Book Review: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

HallowedHallowed (Unearthly Trilogy #2)
Cynthia Hand
HarperTeen, January 2012
ISBN 978-0-06-199618-4
Hardcover (ARC)

In the second installment of the Unearthly Trilogy (after Unearthly), teenaged Clara Gardner is learning more about her abilities and obligations as an angelblood, a human who is part angel by birth. She and her mother and brother, all angelbloods, had moved to Wyoming because of the fiery visions Clara was having and the wildfire had, indeed, occurred. In a departure from what she believed she was destined to do, Clara had rescued a fellow student, Tucker, rather than Christian, another angelblood. Now, Clara is confused, being unsure of what her true purpose might be and torn between destiny and free will. She’s becoming very sure of one thing, though—there is going to be a death and someone she loves will not be at the graveside service.

Adding to Clara’s fear is the unwanted attention of a fallen angel, known as a Black Wing, a being who has tried to kill her and her mother and who creates an aura of overwhelming sorrow whenever he’s near. Unable to tell Tucker everything because of the danger full knowledge would bring, Clara’s main source of comfort is all the other angelbloods in her community and there are quite a few. Maggie, Clara’s mom, has her own secrets and begins to divulge them to Clara and her brother, Jeffrey, culminating in two major revelations.

Angels are the theme of more and more dark fantasy or paranormal books these days, especially in the young adult arena, but Hand brings a fresh perspective to the angelbloods of her trilogy. The religious aspect is handled lightly but with enough depth to convey understanding and the expected rollercoaster of feelings of those just learning what they are—confusion, anger, fear, joy, guilt, shock, sadness, peace—are shown to the reader as though there really is not much difference between angelblood and human teenagers when it comes to emotions. That in itself is unusual and very welcome in this subgenre. The author also gives Maggie a complexity that is often ignored in young adult novels and it’s refreshing to have a parent play such a central role.

The trouble with a really good book is having to wait so long for the next in the trilogy or series. The third Unearthly novel cannot come too soon and Hallowed is the first book I’ll be putting on my list of favorites in 2012.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2012.