To Read or Not to Read?

The Unicorn Chronicles by Bruce Coville

I want to start this review by telling you a little story. When I was in elementary and middle school I absolutely loved book fairs even though I was teased by some of my fellow classmates for how many books I would buy. One of those books (I even still have the copy with the special stamp mark designating it a book fair purchase) was “Into the Land of the Unicorns” by Bruce Coville. I remember reading it over and over again though I didn’t have the rest of the series nor did I try to find them to borrow. Not until this year.

Yep, at age twenty six I walked through the library I work at and checked out the four books of a series targeted for an Amazon specified age range of eight to twelve. But was I ashamed? No, not at all because I was darn curious to know how the epic story ended. And although I could tell by the wording, etc. of the story that it was targeted to a much younger audience, I still enjoyed the story.

So here’s a brief synopsis. The Unicorn Chronicles is a four book saga about, of course, unicorns. And since I’m reviewing the series as a whole and not the individual books I’m going to let you in on a few little details that weren’t discovered until later on. The history goes that the unicorns used to live on Earth but then humans learned that their horns had magical healing powers and decided to hunt them so they could take their horns and use the magic for themselves.

Then a misunderstanding between a girl named Beloved, a unicorn, and her father led to an accident that caused the unicorn and the girl’s father to die and the girl to be in a perpetual state of injury and healing so that she could never die. This leads to a vendetta between Beloved and the unicorns and the unicorns are hunted so badly that in order to survive they must escape to a new world named Luster.

Years later a young girl named Cara and her grandmother are being chased by a man, a Hunter descended from Beloved. So Cara, using the amulet her grandmother gives her, is transported to Luster. Throughout the course of the four books of the saga Cara meets not only unicorns but dragons, centaurs, trolls, and various other magical creatures.

How the story was laid out was very interesting, with events in earlier books coming almost full circle in a way, in later books. Each book had a major event/problem that needed to be solved so my interest was kept throughout (instead of just feeling like you’re focusing on the main event that takes forever to be resolved).

One thing I was surprised at: the violence. It was never anything too gory, at least not to a well seasoned mature reader, but I could see where it could be a bit too much for an eight or ten year old. For example, during the final battle a woman grabs an arrow and uses it to stab a man in the throat and kill him. A young boy uses a knife to slash open a Hunter’s hamstring. Many unicorns, men, and other creatures are killed with depictions of their blood streaming onto the ground.

But violence aside I did enjoy the series and I am very glad I finally got around to finishing it!

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