Unblemished by Sara Ella is a dark YA fantasy that falls into some old clichés but is still an enjoyable read.
This review contains minor spoilers for Unblemished.
Unblemished is the first book in the dark YA fantasy series by Sara Ella. It follows the adventures of Eliyana who has a birthmark that makes her feel insecure and ugly. She is seventeen years old and lives with her mother in New York. One day her mother disappears (or dies?) and Eliyana is introduced to new worlds where her birthmark becomes a source of power.
The story reminds me of Once Upon A Time. I think that people who enjoy that TV show will surely enjoy this book too. The story is told from Eli’s POV, which could’ve been a disaster if Eli wasn’t a likable character.
Although shy and full of self doubt, due to her birthmark insecurity growing up, she’s still able to prove herself as the story progresses. However, I wanted a bit more urgency and purpose from her. However, because Unblemished is the first book I think we’ll get to see Eli grow stronger and more confident as the series continues.
The author spends a lot of time on world building. She talks about mirroring-realities called Reflections. There are five Reflections in total. Eli lived in the 3rd (our world) and she gets to know about the 2nd, where the story takes place. I’m looking forward to seeing the other worlds in the upcoming books.
There are also individuals that have certain ‘Callings’ which gives rise to specific powers and skills; some of them are healers, while others cause pain. There are also two very powerful forces called the Verity and the Void. There are so many things that Sara Ella can explore and I can’t wait to read it all.
The only thing I didn’t like in Unblemished was the love triangle. I know there are readers who might enjoy them but I don’t. It also doesn’t help that it wasn’t handled properly in the story. Eli felt too attached to Joshua and the whole thing came across as one-sided. Sara wrote Joshua as someone who is closed off and enigmatic, but there’s a great difference between being mysterious and being boring. I did enjoy Ky’s character though. His relationship with Eli felt more believable and organic compared to the one she shared with Joshua.
If you aren’t into love triangles then you’ll probably end up annoyed reading the book. The irritation is furthermore exacerbated by reading the events through Eli’s point of view and living in her head.
All in all, Unblemished is an enjoyable story. It has a likable female lead and a rich fictional world to build upon. And let’s not forget the stunning cover art.
Have you read Unblemished yet? What did you think?
Note: I received a review copy of Unblemished from Smith Publicity, Inc.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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