Last week, Johnny Worthen stopped by to tell us about his newest novel, The Unseen, Eleanor. Since then, I’ve had a chance to dive into it.
The book is fantastic. The one element that I appreciate the most throughout the entire novel is the fear. Eleanor has never known a life without fear. What Worthen does a beautiful job of is layering that fear, so she’s physically afraid of the humans that killed her family and of people in general who would harm her if they knew the truth, but she’s also emotionally afraid: to love, trust, and not be afraid. The one person she can trust with her truth is dying more every day, so now she has the added fear of what will happen to her once Tabitha is gone. There are moments in the novel when Eleanor wants to trust so badly and it’s heartbreaking to watch.
Eleanor and Tabitha are hiding in a small town, and Worthen does a wonderful job of showing the tradeoffs of that. On the one hand, when she’s not required to be at school and doesn’t need to go into town, she’s free to live her life without interference. Except for the social worker who drops by every month to check on them, they’re pretty much left alone. On the other, the town is so small that if something unusual happens, the twisted version of it spreads like a wildfire that can never be fully extinguished. Eleanor sacrifices so much in order to remain unseen. The book is a wonderful fit for everyone from young teens to adults.