Unwept (The Nightbirds, #1)
by Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman
Review by Gayle Surrette
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765332035
Date: 01 July 2014 List Price $22.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Ellis awakes from a horrific nightmare to find herself on a train, dressed in a traveling outfit in a shade of green she'd never have chosen. There's a crying baby and a woman reading a newspaper. She has no memory of how she got on the train or where it's going. Further thought brings up the fact that she doesn't even know who she is or what her name is. The woman she's evidently with tells her she's her nurse and is taking her to live with her cousin, Jenny. She doesn't remember Jenny either but the name does sound a bit familiar.
Throughout the story, Ellis begins to remember bits and pieces of her past, but none of it makes sense to her. Everyone seems to know everything about her, but she doesn't remember any of them. They are forbidden by Merrick, who seems to run the town of Gamin, Maine, to answer her questions.
The reader gets bits and pieces of the story, most from Ellis' point of view, with occasional descriptions of events or scenes. The town and the people don't seem to fit. Ellis has noticed discontinuities in time and that no one seems to find any of their behavior strange. Throughout, there are rumors of a serial killer being on the loose but no one seems overly concerned about the deaths.
The book is incredibly frustrating to read. There are hints and clues as to what might be going on, but nothing concrete. The writing pulls the reader in and dangles just enough shiny bits to keep you reading so you can figure out what's going on. It really puts the reader in the place of Ellis, who has been thrown into this situation and has no knowledge of her past, but is expected to just accept all she's told.
As the first book of a series, it's not really a stand-alone book -- there's too much that is unresolved. It's really a teaser which brings you to the last page, and then will keep you waiting for the next book in the hopes that some of these bits and pieces will come together and answer Ellis' questions as well as those of the reader.