ARC Review: The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake

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“You should say you’re crossed, not cursed. Curse makes it sound hopeless.”
Thank you very much to Entangled Publishing for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The Uncrossing was genuinely one of the cutest novels I have read in a long time. Melissa Eastlake’s debut hit every single one of my favourite themes and tropes that I adore as a reader. Diversity? Check. Fairytales? Check. Consent? Check. Positive family relations? Check. The Uncrossing was a literal dream come true for me, and I basically had a huge smile on my face from beginning to end.

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Luke can uncross almost any curse—they unravel themselves for him like no one else. So working for the Kovrovs, one of the families controlling all the magic in New York, is exciting and dangerous, especially when he encounters the first curse he can’t break. And it involves Jeremy, the beloved, sheltered prince of the Kovrov family—the one boy he absolutely shouldn’t be falling for.
Jeremy’s been in love with cocky, talented Luke since they were kids. But from their first kiss, something’s missing. Jeremy’s family keeps generations of deadly secrets, forcing him to choose between love and loyalty. As Luke fights to break the curse, a magical, citywide war starts crackling, and it’s tied to Jeremy.
This might be the one curse Luke can’t uncross. If true love’s kiss fails, what’s left for him and Jeremy?

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“Two houses both alike in actually, I’m not that into you.”

The Uncrossing is an urban fantasy and that is obvious from the very first page. Although I read almost exclusively from this genre from 2008-2011, I haven’t read much during the last few years, aside from Cassandra Clare’s books. To say I was intrigued by Eastlake’s world building, and the chance to immerse myself in this genre from a different perspective again, would be an understatement. And Eastlake delivered. Eastlake has interwoven a fascinating, complex magical system into a contemporary New York setting, and with each description and explanation of mojo and hoodoo, I wanted to know more and more. We have curses, magical mafia, powerful witch families, true love’s kiss … what more could you possibly want?

The inclusion of magic also felt realistic and the little bursts of exposition explaining the history or how to use it, were expertly placed in the text. Oftentimes with any fantasy story, I find the text is bogged down with info-dumping to ensure the reader understands what’s happening, but Eastlake reveals background information only when necessary. That meant I wasn’t constantly rereading paragraphs to make sure I didn’t miss any vital information, because oftentimes, Eastlake allows the reader to get there themselves, too.

“It wouldn’t square up until Luke figured – and it was obvious once he had it – that nobody had to be the good guy. This story could all be villains.”

The fairytale elements were by far my favourite parts of The UncrossingEastlake has taken an old and tired fairytale trope and given it a fun and imaginative twist. Mix that in with a modern setting, organised crime, and forbidden love, and Eastlake has created something truly captivating. 

So the characters … oh boy, oh boy the characters. I adored them so much and shipped them from their very first interaction. Jeremy is the sweetest – he’s painfully shy, friendly, loveable and tender. He has had a massive crush on Luke since he was six years old. I just wanted to give him a big hug each time he second-guessed himself or didn’t think he was good enough. He’s a little cinnamon role that needs to be protected – but jokes aside, many readers will be able to relate to him. He is so precious and I consider him to be my favourite male character I have read so far this year.

Luke was so genuinely likeable: he cared deeply for his family, and went out of his way to help people, even to his own detriment. He was also hilarious, and I loved how cared for Jeremy, not only physically, but mentally too. With Jeremy’s curse putting a strain on his life, Luke is there to help him in any way possible, from trying to uncross him to texting him silly jokes to remind Jeremy to laugh and that he’s not alone.

“Jeremy didn’t feel like crying anymore, but he could have gone to sleep forever. Or for a few decades, at least. He wanted to sleep until someone simply and comprehensively defined love, however long that took.”

I was also highly impressed by the fact that the teenage characters act like teens: they use apps like Instagram and Snapchat, they sleep around, they talk about weird and random things that teens talk about – basically, they’re flawed, modern teenagers and it makes me so happy to see that in a fantasy. I’ve talked about this before, but it’s quite rare to find a book where teenagers behave like teenagers; there’s all this pressure on authors to make their characters “mature”, and I’m glad that in The Uncrossing, they were able to just be teens so teen readers will be able to see a reflection of themselves in Luke, Jeremy and all of the secondary characters too.     

I will make a brief mention about something that I absolutely loved and really respect Eastlake for: how bi-postive the novel was. This might not mean a lot to some readers, but as someone who is bi, I really appreciated seeing my sexuality spoken about in such positive ways. When Luke realises Jeremy is queer, he doesn’t just think, ‘oh, he must be gay.’ No, he thinks, ‘oh so he’s either gay or bi.’ To me, it just reaffirms the existence of bisexuality. One of Jeremy’s brothers, Alexei, is bi and so is one of Luke’s friends, Wesley, and every mention of bisexuality just made me smile. Here are my favourite quotes:

“The first reason is when people say ‘Gay Wesley,’ he gets to give them his angry bisexual lecture.”
[This is SO me omg]
&
“You grow up with Alexei, see if you can forget about bi people.”

I was shocked when I discovered this is a debut novel, because Eastlake’s writing was absolute perfection. It sounds a little rude to say, but I think it obvious when you’re reading a debut novel: the writing can be a little clunky, the pacing is off – small things like that. That was not the case here. Eastlake’s writing flowed naturally and I was so impressed by her writing style. Some of the sentences and metaphors made my little editor heart swoon.

“You’re a good guy. You think I don’t know we’re the bad guys? I know.”

The Uncrossing is an impressive, outstanding debut and I am *this close* to emailing the author and asking her to write a sequel, because I want more from this world and these beautiful characters. I am definitely going to be reading anything else Eastlake published. Please do yourselves a favour and get your hands on a copy of The Uncrossing today.

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5 stars

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

The Uncrossing is set for publication on October 2, 2017. All quotes used in this review were taken from an advance review copy and should be checked against a final copy of the novel. 

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