The God of Lost Words
- Author: A.J. Hackwith
- Genre: Fantasy
- Publication Date: November 2, 2021
- Publisher: Ace
- Series: Hell’s Library #3
CONTENT WARNING: panic attack
Please note that this review will contain spoilers for earlier books in the series, although I won’t include any spoilers for this book.
To save the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, former librarian Claire and her allies may have to destroy it first.
Claire, rakish Hero, angel Rami, and muse-turned-librarian Brevity have accomplished the impossible by discovering the true nature of unwritten books. But now that the secret is out, in its quest for power Hell will be coming for every wing of the Library.
To protect the Unwritten Wing and stave off the insidious reach of Malphas, one of Hell’s most bloodthirsty generals, Claire and her friends will have to decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice to keep their vulnerable corner of the afterlife. Succeeding would mean rewriting the nature of the Library, but losing would mean obliteration. Their only chance at survival lies in outwitting Hell and writing a new chapter for the Library. Luckily, Claire and her friends know how the right story, told well, can start a revolution.
I’ve been a fan of these books since they first quietly appeared on the scene, and now that the third book had released, I realized that I forgot a lot of what had happened in the first two. Thanks to the miracle of audiobooks, I was able to quickly reread the first two and approach this book in a fully informed manner, armed with some fresh new insight that I can only seem to gain by binge-reading.
The found family vibes are especially strong in this series, with Claire, Brevity, Hero, and Ramiel shifting roles throughout the three books. Although the transitions weren’t always easy, the bonds between these four character are incredibly strong, and forged of some very unbreakable materials — a love for books and the Library itself. The characters themselves are also changed throughout the series. Each of them grows into themselves a lot, making new discoveries about themselves, learning more about who they are and who they want to be, working to be the best version of themselves that they can be.
It’s told from the viewpoint of the four main characters, so we get a lot more insight into what each one is going through. And Hackwith gets into the deepest parts of the characters, highlighting the biggest flaws of each one in order to showcase how much they truly grow. Since I’ve come to adore each one of the characters in a different way, it was really amazing to see them change so much in this final volume of the series. But there were definitely two that grew by leaps and bounds, and if you’ve read the series, I’m sure you can guess who they are.
Hero, the snarky and sarcastic villain who escaped his book, definitely showed the most growth out of everyone, in my opinion. After losing his book and experiencing a complete shift in who and what he is, this is the story where he comes to terms with that and where his story is going to go. He struggles a lot with what it means to actually have a soul. We get a front-row view of what all that bluster hides, and surprise! It’s a soft and gooey inside, where he has *gasp* mushy feelings! This made me happier than anything else to see.
“That last part was Hero’s way of trying to soften his words. He did that more often lately. Had more soft bits, as if his time with Rami and Claire were wearing down the more barbed parts of his defenses.”
Claire shows a lot of growth in this book too. While her earlier experiences have primed her to change, the events of the last book have kind of tipped her over the edge and readied her to become a different version of herself. She’s now surrounded by people who understand her and see through her defenses, and it gives her the freedom to become a better person and more selfless, something I wasn’t quite expecting to see, but was thrilled regardless.
“Considering that Hero was the one being redefined, he’d accepted it almost immediately. He’d never understood the fuss, souls and no souls. He’d always felt human enough, and if humans had souls, then why shouldn’t he? But Claire had survived for three decades in Hell by clinging to a very rigid and precise categorization of the world. Every time that categorization defied her (Hero) or betrayed her (Andras), she struggled to change with it.”
Ramiel works to become a bit more accessible in the story, and uses his knowledge to help others understand more about the Library and how the realms work. He aligns his goals with that of the others, and in doing so, he finally find a sense of belonging. This is something that he wasn’t expecting to find anymore.
“Ramiel, their angelic resident soul expert, insisted it all came down to the revelation of the secret the Library had been hiding: books are made from the fragments of souls. Or, at the very least, human souls and stories were made of the same stuff. Souls were one thing in Hell: power.”
Brevity grows into her new position as Librarian, and in doing so, gains a newfound sense of confidence. Their shared goal of saving the Library from the grasp of Hell requires an immense amount of teamwork, not just from these four, but from others as well. And it takes all the resources they can gather to make it work. But just as each of them brings their strengths to the table, they also bring their own unique resources, all of which might just manage to save the Library.
“It was no secret that the others thought of Rami as the anchor of their group, the stabilizing influence of the Library. It was normally a role that Rami enjoyed. But it was an illusion. The Library was populated with runners. There was Hero, who took his running away literally, greasing the way with false bravado. There was Claire, who ran to the safety of books and processes when threatened. And Brevity’s flight was the width of a smile, quick as a shadow behind her eyes.”
In this book, we get to see more of the world and how it works. I was fascinated by all of it, and the way each of the wings manage to interact. All of the different elements of the story came together in an unexpected way, and I truly enjoyed seeing this story unfold. There were enough plot twists to keep me engaged every step of the way, but the ending had a sense of finality that left me completely satisfied and happy at the end of the story. I loved this series, and it’s definitely one that’s going to be on my reread list; a rare honor.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 11
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