Isabel has dedicated her life to serving others. She is the daughter of the Blanche of Castille and Louis VIII and raised as a Catholic. She had a path she was supposed to follow but instead she chose to serve God and become a nun. Isabel is pure of heart and has suffered from stigmata, you could say she has a gift at showing compassion for others. Little does she know that her faith and kindness has made her a pawn in the battle between heaven and hell.
In her monastery, angels in disguise are watching over her and God and Lucifer are fighting for her soul. One angel was put there by god to record her actions and Lucifer is also there in the form of a priest. Isabel suffers through demonic possession and she watches the people she loves put in danger. She is put to the ultimate test of faith in the battle of good and evil and along the way she will have to accept some dark truths.
The Unsaintly by Lisa Vasquez is set in 1254, a time when religion was taken much more seriously then it is now. I was drawn to this book because I liked the idea of someone who is presented as almost saint like being stuck in a battle of good versus evil. In the beginning you get to know Isabel and you like her because she has humanity’s best interests at heart. Isabel to me is a tragic character, you see that all of these eyes are on her and she is forced into some rough situations and you root for her to keep her faith.
While Isabel herself is my favorite part of this book I also liked the setting. This story wouldn’t have worked if it was set in a different time period and I liked how the monastery and the armies battling towards the end are described. In the beginning of the book I also enjoyed the discussion that Lucifer has with God. Among the two you get the feeling that they are really shades of grey rather than black and white, but with the human characters you have an easier time telling who is good and who is bad. There is a lot going on this book, considering that it deals with the question of faith and what we believe to be right and wrong, you know it’s going to be a serious novel that draws you into a different world.
The Unsaintly is no light read, this is a dark story and a little bit depressing. The good people in this book suffer and there is no humor to lighten the mood. I feel that Lisa must have really done her homework on this book. Its been a long time since I’ve read the bible but I remember what my perceptions of god and Lucifer were and the way they are presented in this book match how I saw them when I was a kid. This is a well written book and you can tell that Lisa put a lot of thought into how the characters and setting should be. This is a great horror novel that will have you questioning how you think about God.