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Katie Fitzgerald reviews Unleashed by Amber Kirkpatrick, in which she was pleasantly surprised to meet Catholic characters.  

While I love reading books about the faith written by Catholic authors, there is something special about coming across Catholic characters in a book where I wasn’t necessarily expecting to find them. This happened to me recently in Unleashed by Amber Kirkpatrick, published by the small press Quill & Flame Publishers.  




In this urban fantasy romance, society has undergone a Changing. Thousands of previously ordinary people now have supernatural powers, leading them to be ostracized and even killed for their newfound differences. Not only is Fenris Trygg one of the Gifted, but he has also suffered unimaginable loss that has caused him to become bitter, cynical, and closed-off. He works alongside his best friend Marcel at an organization that aims to assist endangered people with Gifts. It is here that he meets Sara Gardien. Sara is less bitter than Fen and very bright, but as the orphaned daughter of Gifted parents who has no powers of her own, she doesn’t quite fit into this new world. Love for her late parents and disgust at how the Gifted are mistreated drives her to work for the benefit of the Gifted. Fen and Sara slowly come together, bonding emotionally as they fight against evil, but when darkness descends, it becomes difficult to know whether their feelings for each other can withstand the strain.  

Though this story has its share of serious, brutal, and sad moments, it is also filled with humor, heart, and hope. The connections between Fen and Marcel and between Fen and Sara provide many wonderful exchanges of dialogue that feel real, but also made me laugh out loud, or, sometimes, tear up. Marcel and his mom, who is like a surrogate mother for Fen, are Catholic, and though Fen is away from the Church, Marcel’s family is constantly reminding him to return to Mass. Large families and family gatherings are portrayed as warm and joyful, and there is an ever-present sense that there is always hope in the moments of deepest suffering. Though the author isn’t Catholic, the novel certainly has a Catholic sensibility, and it was nice to feel represented in a work of fiction like this.  

This book is also really fun if you’re a coffee drinker. Fen has many funny moments related to his coffee obsession, and there is a fun storyline where he tries to reduce his caffeine intake. The running joke about coffee provides much-needed comic relief at times when the story’s tension is at its height. I don’t drink coffee, and even I was amused by the coffee humor.  

The violence in this book is more appropriate for adults than young teens, but this could certainly be a great read for an older teen or college student. It’s a real page-turner, and the kind of book someone could easily stay up all night to read. If you love fantasy, love stories, and dystopian stories infused with hope, Unleashed would be a great addition to your bookshelves. Happy reading!  



Copyright 2024 Katie Fitzgerald
Images: Canva