Paranormal

Review: Eleanor by Johnny Worthen

Eleanor book cover
Image used by permission

Title: Eleanor (The Unseen #1)

Author: Johnny Worthen

Genre: Paranormal

It was a gamble for Eleanor to rejoin humanity but she was driven to it. She’d been too successful forgetting. The last vestiges of her original family hung by a thread in her transformed brain and drove her to be reckless.

Ten years later Eleanor hides in plain sight. An average girl getting average grades in a small Wyoming town; poor but happy, lonely but loved. Her mother, Tabitha, is there for her and that’s all she’s ever needed. But now her mother is sick and David has returned. The only friend she’d ever had, the only other person who knows her secret, is back. And Eleanor again becomes reckless.

Eleanor is a modest girl, unremarkable but extraordinary, young but old, malleable but fixed. She is scared and confused. She is a liar and a thief. Eleanor is not what she appears to be.

This is one of those where I liked the concept (skinwalkers of Native American mythology), but it didn’t sound great enough to drop everything and read it. So it took me a while to get around to it. I actually think that was good for my reading experience, though, because I’d forgotten all about what the concept was, so it was a whole lot of fun to wonder what exactly made Eleanor so strange.

Eleanor was interesting, and my opinion of her changed throughout the entire book. At first she was a weird loner girl. Then a weird loner girl with something else really strange and not normal about her. Then towards the end, it was like Eleanor was not really a person, but more like a fluid concept that could be anything. Size, age, gender…nothing was set in stone. It was really strange, and really different. I loved it.

David was the new boy in school that I expected in a paranormal romance – but in a totally different way. He and Eleanor were friends a while ago, then he comes back. He was friendly and sweet, but he had struggles of his own that he wasn’t really interested in sharing. I enjoyed him, but the enigma of Eleanor overshadowed him a lot.

I absolutely loved the plot (probably because I forgot the back cover before reading). It was half contemporary, with Eleanor navigating school and bullies and David and her adoptive mother dying of cancer, and half paranormal, with Eleanor doing strange things and abnormal things happening. Up until almost the end I was frantically trying to figure out what happened next and failing. It was like one great big fascinating riddle, but the last clue was at the end of the story. I was enthralled the whole way through.

So, the skinwalker/shapeshifter idea – not original, and it isn’t always that great. Eleanor‘s take on the idea – different, original, well-executed…and fabulous. It was still a paranormal thing, but there were some sciency details that made it amazingly believable. And yeah, romance is a huge part of it, but it’s nothing like a standard paranormal romance. It’s more about loving someone for who they are than an actual romance-romance.

My advice: buy this book. Let it sit on a shelf for a week or a month or however long it takes you to forget about this review. Then read it without looking at the back cover. Trust me, it’s worth it.

I received a free review copy of Eleanor from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

The Unseen series:

  1. Eleanor
  2. Celeste (2015)
  3. David (2015)
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