Last Updated on December 20, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
So, this book. It’s a classic case of, the cover won me over and I didn’t need anything else. I mean, c’mon. Look at Touraine’s arms. The thirst over the cover is absolutely justified. Yet it also doesn’t prepare you for how absolutely incredible, intense and complex of a novel The Unbroken by C.L. Clarke is.
An ARC copy was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Publisher: Orbit Books | Release Date: March 2021 | Pages: 464
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Fantasy | Format: Paperback | Source: ARC
Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.
Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.
Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.
On the Page
Content warnings are written up by me, unless specified. Subject to being an incomplete list, though guided by referencing this list and trying to highlight as many as I can identify.
- Touraine and the rest of the characters. For me, a book’s characters make or break it. This cast within The Unbroken was so good that they didn’t break the book. They broke me, instead. Touraine inspires me and frustrates me and baffles me and amazes me. Luca infuriates me and makes me want to shake her shoulders until she listens. And then you have a cast of secondary characters who I am attached to, broken by, opinionated about and have VERY intense feelings. Also, character arcs? Clark invented them, because these are MASTERFUL.
- A complex plot that doesn’t shy away. If you’ve heard anything about this book, you’ve probably heard that it is a story that faces the consequences of colonialism head on and doesn’t stop to make sure the readers are comfortable reading, instead digging down deep and showing you the truth in all of it’s complexities. Yet, at the same time, it’s so layered and becomes more and more complex the further along the book goes and just…wow. Wow.
- So hard to put down. Like, friends, it’s been so long since I snuck in reading time wherever I could find it. From staying up too late and becoming a zombie the next day to sneaking in just one more chapter in-between meetings at work; to today, damned and determined to find out how this book ends, only to have my partner walk into the bathroom and ask if I’d noticed that the water had almost drained out of our bathtub while I read (I had and I was shivering, but I couldn’t just get up; I only had 30 pages left!).
- QUEERNORM WORLD. I loved this so, so much. Also, seeing bi characters on the page just warmed my heart in ways I haven’t really experienced yet.
- That it ended? That I don’t know what the letter contains? That I don’t have arms like Touraine in real life!?
This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it did not disappoint. In fact, it’s my second five gem read of the year. Don’t sleep on this, friends. It’s so good.