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Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Hunt of the Unicorn by C.C. Humphreys

Published March 8th 2011 by Knopf Books
341 pages
Source: Review Copy via Flamingnet Teen Book Reviews

Elayne has lost all hope for her father’s recovery as he battles leukemia, and it is with a feeling of defeat that Elayne sits down with him one night and cracks open the old volume entitled The Maid and the Unicorn. Elayne reads of the story of the magical weaver Francois Robochon, his daughter and her namesake Alice-Elayne, and the escape from Goloth, Land of the Fabulous Beast on the back of a unicorn. Even as Elayne scoffs at the fantastical story, her father insists on its authenticity and presents a supposed unicorn horn passed down from Elayne’s ancestor to her as a gift. It isn’t until Elayne comes face to face with tapestries depicting the great unicorn and woven with the initials AE that she finally realizes the truth, although the realization does come just a bit too late. Plunging head-first into the Land of the Fabulous Beast, Elayne seeks to discover a cure for her father and possibly save Goloth from its tyrannical ruler, the descendant of the weaver Robochon’s murderer, King-Elect Leo.

The Hunt of the Unicorn turned out to be a lot more than I’d originally expected. The beginning was a bit heavy on the info-dumping, but the authors chose a more creative method. We read about the entire history and back-story as Elayne herself reads from The Maid and the Unicorn, and her commentaries certainly added to the story.

It took me 80 pages to get into the story, and the rest of the book flew by as a result. We are introduced to fascinating Moonspill, handsome Leo, joking Marc, sweetmeat-addicted Amaryllis, and other charming or back-stabbing characters as the story progresses. My favorite being the two-headed amphisbaena snake, who, upon meeting Elayne, proceeds to exchange their knowledge of the language of the beasts with her for her knowledge of modern English. It is quite entertaining to hear the snake, especially the Baena half, speak in a mix of Olde English and “teenspeak.”

The Hunt of the Unicorn is a great addition to the plethora of unicorn books out there. It stands out among the rest, too.

Rating: 3
fairly intriguing
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