Book Review: Unwinding The Spiral

This is going to be the kind of book review that is 100% biased. If you’re looking for one that isn’t, check out the Goodreads one that has been reposted on a few other platforms. That’s the only warning you get. So buckle in.

This Book.

This freaking book.

It’s a masterpiece. It’s magic. I’m not even ashamed to say that I purchased the first copy, before the release date because I was so eager. And that meant that I purchased both the ebook and the physical copy. I’m not even ashamed of it. And I feel like I need to explain the beautiful soul behind the book to really get into why this book is so fucking amazing.

I met Peta 10 years ago. We were both doing our Bachelor of Writing and Publishing at NMIT (which is now known as Melbourne Polytechnic and our degree is no longer offered) and we were in the same classes for the semester (Peta actually was a semester in front of me) and we bonded by chance. I know that it’s purely probably because of Megan. I don’t actually remember but it started over late night ciders in a dive bar and then moved on to chats about delicious food, learning to ask for help when needed (I needed to get to places that was too hard by bus), Dead Letter Circus, Vegan Pizza, cheeseboards, sleep overs in my dorm room on campus, vegan desserts and writing very late into the night. She is one of the most amazing people I know and possible one of my most favourite authors (she’s also my matron of honour and will be standing right next to me when I marry my favourite man in the world). I have waited a cool 9 years for this book to come out.

Unwinding the Spiral (I can officially write that in italics and squeal and make it UTS for short) is based in Heredour, a country where elemental magic is the ruling class. Children are trained to work with their god for a years at a time. Most are called by the age of 13, some move to towns to help them reach their full potential with amazing teachers and others…are called Kaiaho (there’s a special symbol above the a and I can’t get it here, but just imagine it’s there, yeah?). Which means if they are called above their class (there is low, middle and high kin) they are sent to Buduwai – the wizard run camp where they are retaught to be called by the right god, but is it a surprise that no one has ever come out of it?

Our main narrators for the story are four very different characters who are all interlinked. We have Wave, who has always been my favourite, she is a powerful waterkin who doesn’t quite belong in the town she moved to, to study. Then we have Jessandra, who is a princess who hasn’t been called. Larka is also a strong favourite of mine, her earthy motherly spirit balances the story perfectly with her tenacity to keep her daughters save and finally we have Mortius, the man who is the advisor to the King (or as he is dubbed – The Mad King) who is plotting his downfall. Each have a story to tell on their own.

Each character is essential to explain how the land that was once flourishing is now barren due to Reuben’s madness. But Wave and Jessandra’s bond, as they find themselves on a journey of a life time is full of complications, almost getting caught and a reunion that everyone needed.

When I tell you I had goosebumps reading this…I had goosebumps. The day that it came out I was feverishly taking a nap (literally here, I was so sick!) and excited to open up my kindle to see the novel there…only I had kept my Kindle on airplane mode for months and I missed updates, which meant I had to wait for it to download then restart and update before it finally was there.

It was right there on my kindle and the first thing I did, was scroll back to see the beginning pages, mostly because I wanted to see the cover but also I was curious to see who it was dedicated too. When I saw my name, I sobbed and sent her photo and a message well after midnight. I was so surprised. Also how the hell did she keep it a secret for SO long? Like what??

Something that I really love is watching writing evolve, it’s why I am so passionate about stories and about finding the way they change, it’s why I have studied so long, because I want to know what makes them tick and watch them evolve, mold and reshape into something so beautiful. And this story? It evolved into a beast.

I had read this book in its entirety when Peta asked me to edit it for the first time. The book from there to now? Worlds different to the story that is out there. Her writing has changed and the power of editing is a thing too being able to strip the story back and find the core of it and then rewrite is no small feat but Peta did. She freaking did it. Every character grew, exponentially, throughout the book. There was no plot hole that was left hanging around. It was tight, composed and fucking stunning.

Have you see it? The cover is beautiful. The inside is amazing. The end pages…all of it. I am the biggest cheerleader there it when it comes to this book because it has changed so much and I watched it change. I watched as Peta pulled apart each word that went into a sentence as I wrote beside her during NaNoWriMo – 8 or 9 years ago as we both wrote through the night to finished first full drafts. You may pick up this beast of a novel (it’s 450 pages long. It was something stupid like 120k or something!!!) and you’ll devour it in next to no time, but this beautiful book took 20 years to get to where it is. It took 20 years of watching the story change ever so slightly as Peta grew as a human being and an adult.

This is a book that is celebrated, that is so needed, a perfect escape from the world around. It’s the masterpiece that I have been waiting with gentle reminders to keep on writing, even when it feels like shit.

I am beyond proud of the story that Peta has brought out, the one I knew was there and just wasn’t quite sure of how to bring it out. The only downside to writing this review?

She is only 1/4 of the way through writing book 2. I’m dying for more. Need more of Wave’s adventures (and I’m stiiiillll in love with Strath) and to find out more about Samuel (even though I know a little more about him than what others do because best friend privileges).

If you feel called to buy this book, do it. It’s available anywhere you can get your hands on a book, but if you’re in Australia and want to get it straight from her with a loving note download it here.

Mandi is a writer, reader, dreamer and is breaking procrastinating inner editors, one at a time.

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