‘Unseelie’ is an unbelievable read

Prior to its Jan. 3 debut, “Unseelie,” had been on my To Be Read (TBR) list ever since I heard about it. This epic fantasy novel by debut author Ivelisse Housman had me hooked from beginning to end. 

“A Young Adult (YA) Fantasy that follows the adventures of changeling Seelie and her human twin as they embark upon the heist of a lifetime for a mystery legacy,” reads the synopsis on Housman’s website. “As they evade capture by both human and fae forces, Seelie discovers more about her own autistic identity, her magical powers and love along the way.”

First off, a fantasy book with an autistic main character? Epic. Writing neurodivergence in fantasy has been a hot topic when discussing diversity in the genre.

Coding characters without outright saying if the character is autistic or has some other neurodivergence is how it’s normally done. Authors typically verify any speculation about the character’s identity following the initial debates among fans.

Housman takes it a step further by exploring how autism fits into the Norse Mythology of changelings. According to Norse Mythology, autism is associated with changelings who were switched at birth with humans. One of my favorite parts about Housman’s writing is how she depicts changelings and ableism in this world — which rang true to real world ableism, even though it’s taking place in a fantasy world. 

Chapter eight hit especially hard — I remember having to close the book to process what I just read. Housman rips your heart out with her beautiful writing, this is in part due to how she makes her characters so complex and relatable – we see their insecurities and ambitions, especially Seelie’s.

Seelie is a character you want to root for. Her journey is emotional, fun and humorous.

Raze is a character that oozes charisma. Seelie’s sister Isolde reminds me of Inej Ghafa from “Six of Crows,” for some reason. 

Reading about the bond of the core four was also something I enjoyed — the enemies-to-friends cycle of the group doesn’t feel like it’s forced or contrived. Everything about this group makes you want to see them succeed and their backstories really hone in on how interesting these characters are.

The world building in this book — wow. First off, making a magic system is difficult, especially with a cast of magical characters with differing magical capabilities. Despite how ambitious an endeavor it is for a writer, Housman nails this. Her worldbuilding makes this story feel easy to follow, even though it’s complex. 

There’s so much to love about this book: from the world, to the characters to the magic. Seelie’s character arc makes the audience more invested in Unseelie. These characters aren’t perfect, and watching their growth gives the story a lot of depth. 

Housman does such an amazing job of blending real world social topics and mythological creatures. The book tugs at your heart and brings readers on a fantastic journey. I recommend this book for everyone who is a fan of YA Fantasy, enemies to lovers and a good heist story. 

Rating: 5/5