Book Description:

In this standalone fantasy novel by an award-winning author, the dark truth behind a string of unusual murders leads to an otherworldly exploration of spirits, myth, and memory, steeped in Caribbean storytelling.

Dr. Miranda Ecouvo, forensic therapist of the City, just helped put a serial killer behind bars. But she soon discovers that her investigation into seven unusual murders is not yet complete. A near-death experience throws her out of time and into a realm of labyrinths and spirits. There, she encounters brothers Chance and the Trickster, who have an otherworldly interest in the seemingly mundane crimes from her files.

It appears the true mastermind behind the murders is still on the loose, chasing a myth to achieve immortality. Together, Miranda, Chance, and the Trickster must travel through conjured mazes, following threads of memory to locate the shadowy killer. As they journey deeper, they discover even more questions that will take pain and patience to answer. What is the price of power? Where is the path to redemption? And how can they stop the man—or monster—who would kill the innocent to live forever?

Unraveling, Karen Lord’s latest novel, is a standalone sequel to her wonderful World Fantasy Award–nominated, Frank Collymore Literary Award– and Mythopoeic Fantasy Award–winning first novel, Redemption in Indigo. Although it has ties to the previous book and some of its characters, Unraveling is quite different from it stylistically, making it seem like its own story more than a continuation of Redemption in Indigo to me. Redemption in Indigo is a folktale brimming with wit and humor told as though being narrated by a storyteller, and while it also contains some wit and lovely phrasing, Unraveling is a murder mystery with darker shades told through less conspicuous prose. It’s also a complicated journey through time and memory that may be a bit bewildering to us mere mortals at times.

“Bewildering” may sound like a negative quality, but I don’t see it that way in this particular case: the fact that this isn’t a straightforward whodunit adds depth and uniqueness to this tale. Lord did a fantastic job making Chance and the Trickster, undying who are currently mortal, both familiarly human and otherworldly in their approach to people and questions of morality, and they and the angels have an alien concept of time. The details of what human investigators had learned about the murders were gradually revealed, and it also delved into what was/is/will be—which could be confusing to those of us who experience time linearly, yet was also consistent and handled well.

Unraveling is a perfectly good book, one that obviously took skill and thoughtfulness to create. Yet as immersive as I found it after the first three chapters or so, it never managed to engage my heart the same way it engaged my head. The crimes and discovering the culprit are a big part of it, and there’s not much room for in-depth characterization with numerous characters connected to the serial killings constantly weaving in and out—although I do think the characters are decently developed considering the type of story and the short length of the novel. Ultimately, I appreciate Unraveling as art but do not find it memorable because my personal taste tends more toward books that delve deeper into the characters, and I much prefer Redemption in Indigo.

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: Finished copy from the publisher.

Read an Excerpt from Unraveling

My Review of Redemption in Indigo