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ARC Review: Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman

Publication Date: January 3, 2o23


Twin sisters, both on the run, but different as day and night. One, a professional rogue, searches for a fabled treasure; the other, a changeling, searches for the truth behind her origins, trying to find a place to fit in with the realm of fae who made her and the humans who shun her. 

Iselia “Seelie” Graygrove looks just like her twin, Isolde… but as an autistic changeling trying to navigate her unpredictable magic, Seelie finds it more difficult to fit in with the humans around her. When Seelie and Isolde are caught up in a heist gone wrong and make some unexpected allies, they find themselves unraveling a larger mystery that has its roots in the history of humans and fae alike.

 Both sisters soon discover that the secrets of the faeries may be more valuable than any pile of gold and jewels. But can Seelie harness her magic in time to protect her sister, and herself?

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved this! The writing is gorgeous, the characters are compelling and intriguing and felt very real, and the plot kept me guessing while still feeling familiar. My absolute favorite thing about it though is that Seelie is an autistic main character who is very believably autistic. She is also very, very relatable (to me, anyway) and I really felt and understood her decisions and choices. Sometimes they annoyed me a little, but I always understood them.

Raze is a character I couldn’t quite pin down, and that’s a good thing. He’s so layered and has so many deflecting shields that he doesn’t really let people in. Seelie is probably the closest he’s let anyone get, just by virtue of adventuring together and being in constant peril.

I loved Isolde. It would be fascinating to see things from her perspective, but I’m glad we’re given Seelie’s. I especially loved the love they feel and the way they are bonded together as sisters against everything. I hope we get a lot more of Isolde in the next book.

Olani is also a fascinating character, and one I want to spend more time with in the next book. She has layers too, and I like her outlook and her combination of healer’s patience and adventurer’s spirit.

Gossamer is fascinating in more of a horrified fascination sort of way, but I really appreciate the way his nature contrasting with Seelie’s brings her more into herself. I am very intrigued by his story and what we will discover in the next book.

I cannot stress enough how much I love that the entire premise of this book is that changeling myths are an early description of autism. Seelie is a changeling, and very obviously autistic, and a wonderful main character. And the revelation about Seelie and Isolde at the end! I was not expecting it and that made it even more impactful and thought-provoking.

I loved the faerie realms and the magic and the adventure and basically all of it. This is exactly the sort of book that I love, complete with reluctant banding together of adventurers for the quest (one of my favorite tropes).

There are a lot of questions left unanswered at the end, but enough of a temporary resolution that I don’t feel like it’s a cliffhanger exactly. I definitely want to know more, and I can’t wait for the next book.

*Thanks to Inkyard Press and Bookishfirst for providing an early copy for review.

Favorite Quotes

Night doesn’t fall in the Unseelie Realm. Here, night staggers drunkenly, clawing at the blue sky with its dark fingers. Desperate and Hungry.

Night doesn’t fall in the Unseelie Realm. Here, night staggers drunkenly, clawing at the blue sky with its dark fingers. Desperate and Hungry.

Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman

This is a first for me, but some of the quotes that spoke to me the most were actually in the Author’s Note rather than the text itself. I decided to include them here because they give important context to the story and to Seelie herself.

How do you write about autism without using the word autism?

Author’s Note of Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman

This book was inspired by the theory that changeling mythology is an early description of autistic children…

Author’s Note of Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman

I wanted to write a story about someone like me, a story where the autistic character is the center of her own narrative.

Author’s Note of Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman

And if you see yourself in these pages, I want to tell you what I wish someone had told me.
You are exactly the way you were meant to be, and you are the hero of your own story.

Author’s Note of Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman

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