Lord draws upon the familiar fabric of mythic and religious symbolism to weave a winding yarn about redemption and its demands upon the individual who bravely commits to connect the dots of an uncomfortable truth. However, in the novel, as in life, spotting the signs is neither easy nor straightforward ... In this world of myth and symbolism, Lord frolics around like a demigod, siphoning off pieces of public dream, playfully blending and decanting before reinserting her dabblings into a story that feels, at times, like both crime fiction and fireside fable ... Lord crafts an engaging parable of agency and redemption with a resonance of Augustinian allegory ... The novel is bold and grand in scope, while at the same time firmly embedded in the redemptive journey of the individual. For all its ambition, it is surprisingly successful ... It is critique and sorcery, sweeping and personal. It’s pure Caribbean magic.
Lord sets herself some tricky challenges at the outset, which may impede some readers in getting into the swing of the narrative ... These are quite a few threads to follow, but as their various connections become apparent, and certain relationships emerge as central (such as that of Miranda and Chance), the story develops an increasing urgency, both in its more cosmic themes and in the personal challenges of its main characters. Drawing on mystery, fantasy, myth, and family drama, Unraveling finally pays off in satisfying, surprisingly humane, and moving ways.
... dances along these strands of subjunctivity, not merely in terms of its genre (fantasy) but in the way she tells the tale ... As these various levels of unreality nest inside one another, it is easy for the reader to lose track of where exactly they stand—but in ways that precisely serve the purpose of the story, rather than undermining it ... Lord does a very effective job of making the undying seem like more than simply humans with special powers ... an aspect of worldbuilding rarely touched on in much fantasy and very well-handed here ... For those who have read the previous book, it may be a disappointment that Paama only appears for a few pages, but this dive into the internecine struggles of the undying and the complexities of their interaction with humanity are a welcome expansion on the world and characters of Lord’s first novel.
Lord has pulled together a strange, surrealist novel for those who don’t mind wading into a fantasy world and letting themselves be pulled along by the tide. This book, inspired by the inscrutability of angels and by Caribbean storytelling, dips in and out of myth, of branching possible futures, and of spirit worlds, leaving the reader constantly questioning what is real. Unraveling is twisting and fantastic; readers will contemplate the nature of memory as they dive into the tale, rooting for Miranda to make it through and succeed, even as the story approaches a climax impossible to see coming.
... a fascinating work of fantasy that’s short on plot ... The language is lush and beautiful, but the novel’s mazelike narrative can be hard to follow, and it starts to drag in its final third. Readers drawn to Miranda and her story will find that the effort it takes to untangle Lord’s puzzle is well repaid; others will find it needlessly complicated.