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THE GOD OF LOST WORDS By A.J. Hackwith from @TitanBooks #BookReview #Fantasy


Titan Books, s/b, £8.99

Reviewed by Matthew Johns

The front cover for The God of Lost Words by A.J. Hackwith. The front cover is red. Running along the bottom of the page is a demon between two sets of upright books. There are three open books on the left and right of the page that are falling down,

The final book in the Hell’s Library trilogy, The God of Lost Words, takes the reader on a journey through heaven, hell and beyond as the motley crew that run the Unwritten Wing battle to protect their charges from hell’s most fiendish and downright unpleasant general, Malphas.

The Library doesn’t actually belong to hell; it just sits there as a neutral space that is just about tolerated by the demons – a Switzerland of the underworld, if you like (just without the cuckoo clocks, bank accounts and chocolate). Populated by unfinished books, this is one wing of 12, all spread across different afterlife realms containing different types of stories and secrets, which are all under threat from Malphas and her demonic troops.

The team protecting the Library include a formerly fictional character, Hero, the previous Librarian, Claire, an angel Rami, and the current Librarian, Brevity (who used to be a muse). A very varied crew that are ably brought to life by Hackwith. With witty dialogue, snarky comments aplenty, a nice love triangle, and even an appearance by Death (or Walter, as he’s known by his friends), this is quite the rip-roaring ride through the afterlife. The dynamics between the lead characters are explored nicely, with some fairly familiar themes of secrets between friends and lovers, a heroic sacrifice or two, and people changing to become better versions of themselves. There is plenty of comic relief offered by some of the lesser characters – some of the other librarians and a veritable army of damsels from books within the Unwritten Wing stand out.

Coming into this fresh, not having read the first two books, I will confess that it took me a little while to get into it and understand who everyone was, but once I was in, I was hooked. The author does a great job in building the (under)world of the Library and really takes the reader on a journey with the protagonists as they try to get the support of all the other Library wings to stand against Malphas and find themselves a home. Unsurprisingly, finding a home for an enormous library containing countless books and characters is not a simple matter of checking the local properties to rent or buy online, so the team find themselves on a bit of a quest.

Having read the third book, I now want to read the first two just to get all the backstory that I was missing! In short – a great book, but do make the investment in reading the first two first for the fullest enjoyment and experience of Hell’s Library.

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