Reviews of The Unwritten Girl

May 7, 2009

J & J Review: A Charming and Imaginative Fantasy

Puck describes the Land of Fiction as “a patchwork of stories,” and that’s how Rosemary and Peter experience it. With each new story they enter, their clothes and surroundings change, and they encounter new characters and a new test. Rosemary is smart and resourceful, and Peter makes a likable and loyal sidekick. As they themselves become characters in a series of stories, they face increasing danger and learn important life lessons.

Author Bow clearly had a lot of fun creating this world. The Unwritten Girl is the kind of book that richly rewards imaginative involvement. Middle-school-aged readers will enjoy Bow’s silly puns and sometimes mind-bending ideas, although they’re likely to miss literary allusions to writers such as Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Read the full review here.


February 16, 2009

The Written World: A Fun Book

Have you ever wandered what happens to all the books that you abandon? I know that there are plenty of books through the run of a year that I either don’t finish because I am not interested in them or because I get distracted by another book and forget to return to them. James Bow takes this idea and has apparently has created a trilogy based around it. So, what would happen if the books paused when you paused and never reached the conclusion? One interpretation of that idea is found in the pages of this book. Since I really enjoy books about books, I knew that I had to see what this trilogy was all about.

Read the full review here.


February 16, 2009

Stella Matutina: 3 Stars

This was a quick, enjoyable read that I’d recommend to young readers. (It’s marketed as YA, but I got more of a middle grade feel from it). If your kid isn’t old enough for Jasper Fforde but would enjoy the literary setting, this could be the book for them. (I’ll be passing my copy along to my little cousins, who seem to have gone book-mad when I wasn’t looking). And to top it all off, it’s likely to scare the younger set into finishing every book they start.

Read the full review here.


March 27, 2008

Big A little a: Highly Recommended

The Unwritten Girl is meta-fiction at its best and perfect for fans of fantasy and science fiction who will recognize many of the character types and conflicts in the novel. James Bow’s prose is clear and uncomplicated, allowing the meta-narrative and the story to take center stage. The Unwritten Girl is highly recommended for readers ages 9-14 and is the first in a series of books featuring Rosemary and Peter. Based on this first volume, I will certainly read more.”

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January 10, 2008

A Gaggle of Book Reviews: Highly Recommended

I highly recommend James Bow’s The Unwritten Books. Both The Unwritten Girl and Fathom Five are wonderful Young Adult fantasy novels, and would be attractive to both boys and girls. The fantasy inside James Bow’s novels aren’t the type of fantasy that has received a lot of movie attention of late, so teens and tweens who say “I don’t like fantasy” should like these! If you’re an adult, don’t pass these up because they’re labeled Young Adult. You can always buy and read them, then donate them to the Young Adult section of the library!

Read the full review here…


November 14, 2007

Canadian Children's Book News: We Recommend

“…Both The Unwritten Girl and Fathom Five are interesting novels of fantasy. It is obvious that Bow’s writing has matured as he continues to create fantastic stories for children. The beauty of the Unwritten Books series is that they do not have to be read in order. Both books stand alone as separate adventures, partly to accommodate the fact that the characters are pre-teens in The Unwritten Girl, making it suitable for ages nine to twelve, but full teenagers in Fathom Five, more suitable for older readers. In addition, the books’ focus on both a male and female character so both boys and girls will be able to relate to, and find equal pleasure in, reading this series.”

Excerpt from Fall 2007 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News.


March 12, 2007

Mad Jenny Flint's Mad Tales

The Unwritten Girl is a bit of an enigma. I’m not sure how to place it. It is a fast-paced, exciting, adventure story ideally suited to fans of Lemony Snicket or Chasing Vermeer. But, on the other hand, it is chock full of literary references that might be of more interest to an older, better read bunch. The main characters are young, but the situation in which they find themselves is a bit older. Which is not to say that the situations are “adult”, but that they find themselves with a lot of responsibility… …The main characters are appealing. Both Rosemary and Peter are intelligent, thoughtful, and well-drawn. I am looking forward to seeing their relationship develop in the second book, due out sometime this year.

Read the full review here.


December 1, 2006

Teens Read Too: 5 Stars and Gold Award

I can’t describe to you how great I thought this book was! Between the idea of being truly sucked into a book, to living in the stories that you’ve read, to the fabulous reason that all of the characters are upset. It’s hilarious, scary, exciting, and impossible to put down. I’ve always loved Puck, and the fact that he speaks mostly in iambic pentameter, intended or not, is just too perfect. If you’re a book fanatic, this is an absolute must!

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October 9, 2006

What If Magazine

James Bow is a young author to watch and to read. This is first novel and we certainly hope it’s not his last. As he says, some stories have happy endings and some don’t; it’s worth reading The Unwritten Girl to find out which one it has.


September 25, 2006

Brett Lamb

Xmas is coming and you can buy the book online at Amazon. A good gift for brats 10-12 who have an insatiable appetite for fantasy fiction wrapped in a thick, juicy slab of precious Victorian-styled sentimentality. Stick it in their stockings and get them to shut up for a few hours.

Read the full review.


September 9, 2006

Bartspace (UK)

the best sign that a book is good is when upon finishing you immediately want to know more, what happens next? What痴 the next adventure?

Well the good news is that the sequel is due out in spring next year, for now though I値l have to make do with rereading this one.

Read the full review here


July 22, 2006

Prairie Fire

The Unwritten Girl … is a quirky, literary story, a blended mixture of fantasy and realism. … It could easily be read by teens or adults who enjoy a fantasy with clever twists. Indeed, adults might best appreciate some of the clever literary references and subtle irony used by the author.

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July 8, 2006

Eclectic Closet

Bow takes us on a delightful, nostalgic trip with The Unwritten Girl; however, what is more important is how young adults will respond to this book. Despite its fantasy/fairy tale setting, The Unwritten Girl addresses some fairly serious issues; mental illness, being an outsider, the death of parents and bullying. In many ways, this is a fairly dark book and Bow deftly handles these significant topics without resorting to clich駸 or becoming preachy.

Read the full review here


July 2, 2006

Windy Weather

Bow writes well and the story has the ingredients of good children’s literature: it has a moral, but the moral is integral to the story and doesn’t get in the way of what is likely to prove a satisfying adventure for the young reader. I understand that this is James Bow’s first published fiction as a professional; I’m sure it won’t be his last.

Read the full review here


June 30, 2006

Sarah's Stars (Whitney, Age 13): 5 out of 5

This book was one of the best books I have ever read. The descriptions were amazing. I have never read a book like this. Not even one with the same concept or idea. The Unwritten Girl is a book I would gladly read over and over again. I really hope that there will be a sequel to this book very soon.

Read the full review here


June 24, 2006

CM Magazine: Recommended

Bow’s greatest strengths are his concept and the fluidity of the novel. It is a solid first work by a promising writer. The Unwritten Girl is an engaging and entertaining novel that will bring a smile to the reader’s face and perhaps send the reader to the library looking for old favourites.

Read the full review here...


June 18, 2006

Postcards from the Mothership

The book is by turns adventurous, spooky and laugh-out-loud funny. I love the sense of fun James brings to this story…

Read the full review here


June 7, 2006

Critics' Corner: 4 Stars

…Rosemary and Peter race to save Rosemary’s brother before an unseen enemy exacts a terrible revenge. They are about to learn there is a consequence for every action, even if that action is leaving a book unfinished.

Full review from the Cambridge, Ontario library system


May 29, 2006

Parabolic Reflections

The climax of the story (two climaxes, actually) is terrific, and the resolution satisfying. It’s not hard to imagine that some young readers might fall in love with this book and want to read it again and again. So if you have a fantasy-loving child on your Christmas list, you might want to consider buying them a copy of The Unwritten Girl.

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May 13, 2006

Nimble Spirit

Delightfully, Bow has drawn from numerous sources throughout literature to create the Land of Fiction through which Rosemary, Peter, and Puck venture. It is great fun to see how many of the books are recognizable via their partial incarnation within the Land of Fiction. I am acquainted with Bow via a listserve that reads and discusses the work of my favorite author, Madeleine L脱ngle. Bow痴 own love for Miss Madeleine shines forth on every page of The Unwritten Girl.

Do not think for a moment, however, that this is a derivative story. It is original, funny, and Bow takes punning to new levels of groaning.

Read the full review here.


May 2, 2006

Sinister Thoughts

“I loved the book. It reminded me, in a way of the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, in that it was set in the world of fiction and presents literary characters as living people…. …If I was an English teacher, I would use this book to teach my students the parts of plot.”

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April 21, 2006

Let it Bleed: Grade: A

“Pacing is James’ forte: a condensed page count (less than 200 pages) doesn’t allow for an awful lot of exposition or character development, but he’s generally managed to make every one of those pages count. His management of words and structure can be note perfect: the first encounter between Rosemary and Puck could have been an unholy mess in less assured hands, but James has a real skill for keeping on top of dialogue and beats and it comes off very well. The second quarter of the book, recounting Rosemary’s first few encounters in the Land of Fiction, at first seems awkward, but as you keep reading you realize that he’s just set up perfectly for the moment, which happens almost literally at the half-way mark of the book, when everything clicks into place - from there on out, the book becomes a darker, more intruiging and satisfying read. (There’s one scene in particular, when the characters first come upon the city that figuratively lies at the heart of the story, that is an absolute show-stopper. Just read it.)”

Read the full review here.


April 16, 2006

Blogography: Unwritten

“Because of how much stuff I’ve got going on, I had thought I would just read a chapter or two so I could say something about the story here, then read the rest once I got caught up with everything.

“But one chapter led to another, and I didn’t stop until I had read the whole thing (and once you’ve read the book, you’ll understand why that’s kind of ironic!).”

Read the full article here.