Author: Sara Ella
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Author Provided (thanks, Sara!)
Publication Date: 2016
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E L S E W H E R E
Series: Unblemished, Book 1
Genre: Fiction; Fairy Tale, Contemporary Young Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5
REVIEW: Eliyana isn’t like the other girls. Her normal is hiding in the shadows. Just getting through the day is an everyday accomplishment. The mysterious blemish covering her face puts El in the “freaks” crowd at her school. But everything shifts when El loses her mother. This is when her entire life falls apart. To begin with, El discovers the next door neighbor (the boy she’s been crushing on), Joshua is anything but ordinary. Following this up, she learns there is an alternate world hidden within the New York she knows. Suddenly, El is thrust into a world of trolls, fierce warriors and a dangerous new romance.
This marks the debut for booktuber, Sara Ella. And what an adventure it is. Inside these pages, Sara has created magic. She’s crafted a story inside of a story that’s painful to leave behind. Settling into this novel did take me a smidgen longer than I expected, but if I had to wager a guess, I’d blame this more on reading two books at once rather than the quality. Once I set aside my other read, hook, line and sinker, I was enchanted.
In so many ways do I “hear” Sara Ella’s voice in these pages. From her fangirl love of Once Upon a Time to the multiple concepts she effortlessly blends, this is top shelf. As I flipped through the pages there were so many examples of what a good story should look like. I saw what popular series The Mortal Instruments *could* have been. I felt the passion common in fairy tales. I experienced the quirky, parallel timelines of Once Upon a Time. This isn’t just a bit of escapism, Unblemished pulls away the curtain of “perfect” and examines what else there is.
To put this novel in as few words as possible (because we all know I can continue to ramble on – and on), Unblemished is a solid debut sparkling with wit. I loved Eliyana’s sense of humor, and being inside her mind (first person POV) is something of a unique journey. Tripping on the edge of the new adult genre (based on the themes and ages), this book has a surprisingly realistic grip on life. Yes El’s journey is one of self-discovery, but the journey looks so much deeper. It’s a story that reinvents “beauty.” With a fast-paced adventure seeking its multiple worlds, romance (which I suspect will deepen in subsequent novels), and fantasy elements sure to delight. If nostalgic trips to Storybrooke are a favorite pastime, curl up with Unblemished. It’s exhilarating from first to final word.
Synopsis: Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?
Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.
But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.
Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.
Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself? – Goodreads
Coming Next from: Book two in the Unblemished series, arriving in 2017
Sincere thanks to the author, Sara Ella and publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book.
Review text is © Rissi JC and first appeared on Finding Wonderland (Dreaming Under the Same Moon), RissiWrites.com