On the Cover: Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend her life cataloging Unnaturals in her father’s Museum of Unnatural History. There is nothing she enjoys more than studying a stuffed Sphinx, or mounting a delicate sylphid. But as she nears seventeen, the dreaded need to become respectable, find a husband, and settle down looms heavily. Just as she is resigning herself to a mundane life, a series of mysterious accidents reveal a terrifying truth: Vespa may be New London’s only surviving witch. And in New London, witchcraft is the greatest imaginable heresy, punishable by death.
Syrus Reed’s Tinker clan has always revered and respected the Unnatural creatures that inhabit New London’s wild places. When Syrus’s family is rounded up and taken away to be refinery slaves, Syrus finds himself on the run. His only chance to save his life – and his people – lies in the hands of a witch.
As the danger grows, Syrus and Vespa find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake is nothing less than the fate of New London – and the world.
Why I Chose It: I saw the cover in the library and was immediately intrigued. When I read the cover I knew I had to read it!
I thought The Unnaturalists was a really creative book. I absolutely loved the descriptions of how New London functions, and the different technologies that are present in this world. There were really fun and interesting things like how Science is the religion, and the “Saints” are all major historical scientists like Darwin and Tesla! I also loved that it wasn’t romanticized in any way – New London is dirty and smelly, and this aspect really made it a much more believable and realistic city.
But in addition to the technology, The Unnaturalists has the added bonus of a whole bunch of fantasy creatures. There are Sphynx, Manticores, nymphs, sprites, and lots of other really interesting creatures, and they’re integrated really well into the story. And it may be the librarian in me, but I absolutely love the descriptions of the Museum where Vespa works. She catalogues all of the different creatures that come into the museum, and I could really relate to her character. Plus after she meets some of the Unnatural creatures, I could totally understand her revulsion of the stuffed creatures they have in the Museum.
Overall, I did enjoy Vespa’s character. She was quiet and simply wants a career at her father’s Museum, something not possible in a society that expects her to marry and run a household. Plus I did feel bad for her as she struggled to understand her new found witch powers.
But I have to admit, Syrus totally stole the show! I absolutely loved the Tinker clan and their way of life, and the connection they seem to have with the Unnaturals. The Tinkers definitely respect Unnaturals and trust their lead in a way that makes New London look absolutely horrible in the way they treat the creatures. Syrus was determined to help the Manticore find the witch, and to try and help his family. I think Syrus embraces the possibility of magic much more easily than Vespa, which actually makes them a really good team as they go though their adventure.
So I did really enjoy this book. I absolutely loved the setting, I loved all of the characters, and even the mystery in the storyline was really intriguing. The only slightly weird thing about the book is that somehow it didn’t suck me in like other books. There are so many books that I couldn’t put down when I was reading them, but for some reason I was able to put down The Unnaturalists and walk away from it whenever I wanted. I did find this really odd because I loved everything else about the book. Still, definitely a good read, and if there are any future books involving Vespa and Syrus I will be sure to check them out!
Rating: 4 / 5