Unraveling by Karen Lord


Karen Lord

After a string of murders, the true mastermind is still on the loose chasing a myth to achieve immortality. Miranda, Chance, and the Trickster must travel through conjured mazes, following threads of memory to locate the shadowy killer.

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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?

Advance Galley Reviews

Didn't get a chance to read this one before it expired.

This book was very confusing to me unfortunately. There is a lot of stuff happening, but once we veered away from the murder mystery aspect of the story, I got really lost. I could sit and read numerous chapters at a time, but couldn't tell you or understand what was going on for most of this book. I even re-read several sections to see if maybe I missed something that would tie what I was reading together, but that didn't help. There are also multiple POVs, which is something I don't enjoy as a reader. Hours after I finished the book, I'm still struggling to figure out what this story was really about. Also, not being told where this story was taking place made my confusion even worse. Have I put a lot of thought into what was going on in the book while I was reading and after I completed it? Yes, but without being able to grasp what story the author was trying to tell, I'm really having a hard time gathering my thoughts on this read. Thank you to the First to Read Program from Penguin Random House for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I enjoyed most of what I read here. Unfortunately, the ending just didn't seem as well planned out as the rest of the story. I had hoped it would be a more interesting end but it was pretty abrupt. The rest of the story was very interesting however.

There was a great balance here between the supernatural dystopia, and a serial murder. I found Chance fascinating and was touched by his feelings for Miranda. Miranda was interesting, but it was frustrating to see her as much carried on by circumstances as it was for her to be acting. I feel like she was underused. The Trickster was just plain fun. The story jumps back and forth through time and through labyrinths, though still remains easy to follow. Lord does excellent work here, painting beautiful pictures of the scenes and well as the thoughts in her characters' heads. The ending was a bit too abrupt for my tastes but ultimately satisfying.

I was more than excited to read Unraveling. The story sounded unique and interesting. However, I couldn’t get into the book. I tried on more than one occasion, but I never got past a few chapters at a time. Ultimately, Unraveling just wasn’t for me, but I still think the story would appeal to many others.

Won from Penguin’s First to Read site. WTF did I just read? I legit don't know. I feel mindfucked in a satisfying way. I was initially intrigued by the paranormal mystery aspect and it being inspired by Caribbean mythology. The first half does include the ‘who is killing these people’ mystery. But it goes about it in such SUCH a different way. Then it shifts to this soul-searching soul-mated redemption kind of thing. All set in this weird-but-not-really world with landowners reigning like Rome and America's electoral college. It kept me reading and thinking about it afterwards. I immediately started trying to research the inspiration for this to try & understand better. I feel this is very important to do for colonists reading from other cultures instead of trying to supplant their own over it. It sounds like Redemption in Indigo is a prequel to Unraveling. It gave me more tips to find out more about the inspiration for this story to understand it better. I'm going to read Redemption in Indigo and continue following Karen Lord. I really hope they have audiobook versions, since Caribbean storytelling is so verbal. And Lord's mentioned how that affects her writing. I’m really happy I found a new unexpected author with unique stories to follow! This AMA was also enlightening.

“And what happens when all the threads of the tapestry have been traveled? Do you then go over them again and again in an attempt to relive the best parts? Because nothing will be like that first experience. Nothing.” I received a free e-ARC through First to Read from the publishers at Penguin Random House. Trigger warnings: death, child death, body horror, dismemberment, severe injury, violence, blood, spiders. Dr. Miranda Ecouvo is a forensic therapist who helps people who have witnessed violent crime unravel the truth about what they’ve seen. She’s coming off one of the most gruesome cases The City has seen lately: a ritual murderer who dismembers his victims and keeps their body parts. However, when she’s visited by Chance and the Trickster, two brother undying, she realizes that the murders may have been instigated by something other than human. The three of them follow the memories of various people involved in the case, bending both space and time, in the hopes that they can get close enough to the real killer to discover their identity and stop them before they complete the ritual and become immortal. This is one of the weirdest books in recent memory. We’re dropped abruptly into the story with little explanation into the plot or the world. While Unraveling claims to be a stand-alone fantasy novel, I kind of wish I had read Lord’s Redemption in Indigo first, if only to familiarize myself with the characters and the world-building. That being said, the plot itself is stand-alone, and it’s entirely possible to read it on its own, provided that readers are patient and don’t mind having all their questions answered immediately–if ever. The structure is gorgeously complicated as Miranda and the undying move in and out of timelines and imagined physical spaces. Very little of the plot actually takes place in the “real” world, and the timeline meanders into the memories of various minor characters, loops back on itself to see events play out again in a different way, and never manages to resemble anything close to linear. We’re always grounded by Miranda, Chance, or the Trickster’s perspectives, which keeps the novel from becoming too confusing. Again, it’s the kind of book that rewards patience and requires some thinking on the part of the reader to weave the many threads together into something intelligible. I’m new to Lord’s fiction, but I admire the restraint in her writing style. Her subject matter is complicated, and it would have been very easy for the language to be similarly complicated, which would likely render the novel utterly incoherent. Instead, the sentences themselves are clear and straightforward. I might not understand why things are happening, but I pretty much always knew what was happening, weird as it might be. I would encourage readers who want to experiment with nonlinear views of time and space to give it a try because, on the whole, it’s pretty accessible. In addition, it also presents Caribbean culture/mythology, which is a nice change from American/European fantasy. On an intellectual level, the novel has a lot of impact. On an emotional one, it fails to hit any sort of mark. Chance and the Trickster are unique and interesting. I admire Miranda’s faltering when confronted with harrowing experiences and her ultimate grit in facing them down. The characters are compelling, but they’re typically not moving; I never felt a connection to them or to anything that was happening, and it’s my sense that the book holds readers at a distance. Similarly, while I felt I understood most of what had happened, I was less clear on what exactly I was supposed to take from that. It’s not that every novel needs a message, but if Unraveling has one, I have no idea what it is. I’d be open to reading more of Lord’s fiction in the future and possibly revisiting this book to see if I can get a better sense of its overall theme. I’ve certainly never read anything else like it. I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.

I'm with the other reviewers on this one - it's a fantastic concept and there are marvelous threads in the story, but unraveling them (no pun intended) proved to be a LOT of work... There are some highly intriguing and original ideas here, and the characters held great potential, but everything seemed weighted down by a vaguely obtuse sense that I wasn't quite getting what the author was trying to tell me. The read was surprisingly uneven as a result; I'd be clicking along and thoroughly enjoying the journey for handfuls of pages, then suddenly find myself pulling back, shaking my head, and rereading the last few paragraphs to figure out what happened, where I got lost, and why things stopped making sense...

I am not going to lie but I don’t know the author, so I pick this book only by looking at the cover page which seemed to me very intriguing. It’s a big maze with an eye in the middle. The main characters Dr. Miranda Ecouvo and two brothers Chance and Trickster have to go through the maze and solve complicated puzzles in order to catch a killer or rather confirmed that Walther Grey, Butcher of the City killed and mutilated 7 victims. I couldn’t get into the book on the beginning but when I did I couldn’t stop. It’s difficult reading and needs a lot of attention because scenes change very quickly but it’s rewarding on the end. There is a lot of characters throughout the book so if someone likes challenging reading I recommend this one :).

Literary ~ Suspenseful ~ Intriguing This book requires a bit of trust to get into. I spent the first chapter a bit lost, because I hadn't pre-read the blurb (I rarely do). But, the writing was strong, and the pacing was enjoyable. In the end, this book turned out to be the type of murder mystery that is as much literary novel as procedural (like Smilla's Sense of Snow in quality, though in no other sense). I love a mystery novel that breaks genres, like this on with its fantasy and mystical elements. I really enjoyed this book, and it is super fast read, partly b/c you ache to figure out what is happening.

This is a very complicated and confusingly told book. The characters are not reliable and the bouncing around is hard to keep straight. The clues were there and eventually allow you to follow the narrative to the conclusion, but it's tedious and the ending was a let down. Sorry, not my cup of tea.

Traveling in a labyrinth of memory and the potential future alongside otherworldly spirits, the truth and the bounds of reality are explored in Karen Lord's Unraveling.  A forensic therapist, Dr. Miranda Ecouvo helped to solve a string of serial killings in the City, but her investigation is not yet quite complete. Faced with a near-death experience where she's almost hit by a bus, Miranda is thrown from time and into a realm of spirits. Guided by the invested interest of Chance and his brother the Trickster, Miranda explores the victims of the serial killer in greater detail, traversing memories via a labyrinth, in the hopes of gleaning vital information to help catch the mastermind behind the murders, one who seeks immortality. Delving deeper and deeper, the trio are faced with increasing questions of a moralistic nature and ponder how they could prevent the mastermind from achieving success.  The story contains elements that are intriguing, matching with the tone and content of the novel's synopsis, and the exploration within the narrative provoked deeper thought; however, it was generally rather difficult to connect with, almost as if the concept was clear in the author's envisioning of it, but that enormity didn't quite translate to the portrayal offered on the page. The cosmic balancing and/or karmic equilibrium of the story eventually comes together, but the journey for the reader to that point was tedious and confusing (though I do wonder if this was intentional to place the reader more deeply inside the story, providing a sense of Miranda's experience). I recognize that I might not be the right audience for this story in this format as I struggled through to the end, but with some further development of the world and characters that would offer a less nebulous how and why, I might enjoy the story more.  Overall, I'd give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.


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