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Book Review

Unblemished by Sara Ella has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “Unblemished” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Seventeen-year-old Eliyana (El) lives with her artist mother in a New York apartment. She has a crush on the handsome, slightly older Joshua, who lives next door. Since his arrival three years earlier, they’ve become close friends and have spent a lot of time together. He’s the only one who doesn’t seem put off by the large birthmark on El’s face. When El’s mother dies suddenly, she learns Mom named Joshua her legal guardian. But the young man seems reluctant, and El hears him talking with a strange man about how he’s just doing his duty.

Grieving her mother and confused by Joshua’s coldness, El attends a party with her only other friend, an edgy girl named Quinn. When Quinn ditches her, El ends up dancing with an acne-faced boy named Ky. He kidnaps her, and she alerts Joshua of the situation on her cell phone.

Ky takes El to Central Park and forces her into a pond. From beneath the water, El’s mother pulls her into another realm. After they’ve spoken for a few moments, they’re separated again.

Joshua finds El alone in the park. He admits knowing that her mother is alive. He introduces El to Makai, the man with whom he was speaking about his duty. Makai introduces himself as the Commander of the Guardians. He says he has watched over El and her mother since El was born.

El suddenly discovers her life is not as it seems. Joshua and Makai lead her through subway tunnels to a hidden Threshold. They explain that there are actually seven worlds, or Reflections, that exist. El and Joshua have been living in the Third. Each Reflection has a series of Thresholds leading in and out.

A villain named Haman captures El. El thinks Joshua has been killed. Ky aids Haman in taking El to the king. A group of Guardians saves El, but only after she has been injured. They take her to a rebel village to help her heal.

Little by little, El learns the secrets of the Reflections and the people she meets. Many have different Callings or abilities. Some can shape shift. Some can control specific natural elements. Some heal, some are artists and scribes, and some create illusions. Only one Mirror, or person who has all of the Callings at once, can exist at a time. El discovers she is a Mirror.

Two competing entities vie for power. The Verity is made of pure light. Whatever human serves as the Verity’s vessel has the power to restrain the Void. The Void, which is pure evil, is contained by a human serving as its vessel.

The world has grown dark because the Void has been allowed to rule. The evil King Jasyn, who is also El’s grandfather, knows by El’s birthmark that she is somehow linked to the Verity’s vessel. He cannot destroy the Verity without her. El’s mother tried to keep her hidden for years, but when an article about El’s mother’s art appeared in the paper in New York, Jasyn found them.

As El tries to navigate her surroundings and understand the new rules, she must also determine whom to trust. Her initial enemy, Ky, ends up being her protector, as Joshua grows distant. Guardians turn on one another, and many people aren’t what they seem. El relies on periodic messages from her mother in her head to determine what to do.

As she travels with the rebels, she comes to know and trust Ky. She learns he had a cruel adoptive father. She later realizes that his adoptive father was her biological father, Tiernan. He was not only brutal to Ky and his little sister, but he also hurt El’s mother. He had been consumed by the Void. More pieces begin to fit together concerning her history and her purpose. She wrestles with feelings of pain and rejection from Joshua. At the same time, she finds herself growing more attached to Ky.

El is ultimately forced to use her newly discovered powers to shift into another Reflection and save her mother. King Jasyn laughs as he gathers El, Joshua, Ky and El’s mother in his throne room. Also present is El’s friend Quinn, who is actually El’s evil half-sister, Ebony. The king pits the players against each other. El discovers part of the Verity currently exists in Joshua and in Ky. El’s initial plan is to take on the role of Void imprisoner to keep others safe from the darkness. But when she becomes the Verity vessel instead, Ky becomes the vessel for the Void. Joshua admits he does love El, despite his previous objections. He asks her to marry him so they can become king and queen now that Jasyn is vanquished. El loves Joshua but still harbors feelings for Ky.

Ky and Joshua meet in the forest as Ky prepares to leave the Reflection. Ky will not be completely consumed by the void as long as he loves El. Joshua insists El belongs to him. The uncertain future that lies before El and her suitors paves the way for the second book in the series.

Christian Beliefs

No overt references to Christianity appear in the book. The Verity and the Void represent good and evil, and characters make significant sacrifices for one another.

Other Belief Systems

Callings are abilities that allow people to shape shift, control specific natural elements, heal and create illusions. A Mirror is a person who has all of the Callings at once.

Authority Roles

El’s mother keeps many secrets in an effort to protect her daughter. El’s grandfather Jasyn and deceased father, Tiernen, were both victims of the Void’s evil. They killed, mistreated and sought power for themselves.


Several characters get bloody in skirmishes. Some are killed, but a fair amount are healed and resurrected.


A rude classmate tells El her rack is her best feature and says she should flaunt it. Various shape-shifting characters appear naked when they shift back into human form. El is surprised that no one seems to notice the nakedness in a sexual way.

At 16, El’s mother became pregnant with her out of wedlock. El’s half sister calls El’s mother a whore for seducing their father. El kisses both Ky and Joshua. El’s friend Stormy has an unspecified relationship with a man other than her husband. Various types of kisses between characters indicate they’ve made vows to or owe one another.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Abuse: Ky suggests his adoptive father, Tiernan, was physically abusive when he was a child. The man killed his mother and kidnapped his 8-year-old sister, forcing her to drink water that made her sick. He later makes Ky drink water that will fill him with evil, threatening his sister’s life if Ky doesn’t comply. Tiernan also physically and verbally abused El’s mother.

Tattoos: Some characters have tattoos that indicate their various callings.

Alcohol: El attends a party where teens are drinking, and the teenage host is drunk.

Addiction: Characters like Ky, who are infected with the Void, battle with something like an addiction. Ky says he has to fight it every day by drinking from Verity-sourced water.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

16 and up


Sara Ella






Record Label



Thomas Nelson, a registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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