I read a book with unicorns.
I felt very let-down.
The Unicorn Chronicles, Book One: Into The Land of The Unicorns
By Bruce Coville
Cara and her grandmother are on their way home from the library when Cara notices a strange man following them. They duck into the nearby church to lose him, but when he follows them inside, Cara’s grandmother insists that the only way for Cara to escape is to run to the top of the tower, and on the twelfth toll of the bell, jump.
She has no reason to believe that when she jumps, she won’t simply fall, but being caught by the mysterious man chasing her is just as scary as jumping from the bell tower. So Cara jumps and finds herself transported to a world of forests and meadows—and unicorns—all of which are threatened by the very man who was trying to capture Cara.
We were looking through boxes in the garage and came across one filled with books from my childhood and tweenaged years. I got rid of most of them—either at the half-price bookshop, or by passing them on to my sister—but I confess I decided to hang on to a few of them and see if they were worth keeping.
Given the recent upsurge in my fascination with unicorns, I decided it would be a good idea to read this book again. In my research, I’ve been sorely disappointed to learn that the only good book involving a unicorn as a main character is Beagle’s The Last Unicorn…but I wanted to read through some of my young reader books and see if they had any redeeming qualities I could put into my story about Æthelred the Black (no, creatures, I haven’t given up on him).
Alas, there were no redeeming qualities to be found in this book. It’s pretty much the story you find everywhere about a little girl without parents who finds herself in a magical land with an assortment of misfit companions. Her goal is, of course, to save the world of the unicorns from a clan of hunters that would destroy them for a reason that is, of course, very stupid.
I was slightly interested in Coville’s interpretation of the unicorn hunt.
I some reading about unicorn hunting, and most sources say that the usual way to hunt them is to send a virgin out into the forest to call the unicorn, and because of her purity, one will eventually be drawn to her, and because they’re trusting creatures, it will curl up next to the girl and fall asleep, and can then be shot at by the hunters that lie in wait nearby.
Coville changes it a little so that the hunt is facilitated by leaving a sick or otherwise distressed maiden in the woods (the concept of leaving virgins in the woods is apparently too much for young readers), but it’s still pretty similar to what’s in the actual unicorn mythology.
Of course, when I read old descriptions of unicorns, I find the notion of hunting them laughable anyway…which is why Æthelred and Wulfhere hunt people instead…but that’s just my opinion.
Out of all the characters and plot points in the whole story, the hunt was the only one that interested me. I definitely don’t recommend this book, although, to be fair, it’s only about 150 pages, and I know I never read any of the rest of the series. It may have gotten better, for all I know.