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The Hunt of the Unicorn by C. C. Humphreys

The Hunt of the Unicorn

by C. C. Humphreys

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Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: A fantasy book with good action and a fun adventure, but the characters were hard to relate to. I would recommend it more for the middle grade age group.

Opening Sentence: Thunderstorms rumble nearer, the air charged with static, as sticky-hot as only a New Orleans night can be.

The Review:

Elayne is a young girl living with her sickly father. Her mother died a few years ago and now her father has cancer. The treatments haven’t been going very well and they aren’t very hopeful. One night her father brings her a diary of one of her ancestors Alice-Elayne the woman she was named after. In the diary it talks about another world where Alice grew up. The world was filled with magical creatures and an evil tyrant king. Alice left that world behind to start a new life here in our modern day, but before she left she made a vow to a unicorn that if he ever needed her help she would gladly give it. Now 500 years later Elayne will have to fulfill that promise.

On a school field trip they visit a museum full of old tapestries, while there Elayne ends up walking through a portal to a different world. She is in the world that Alice talked about in her diaries and everyone thinks that she is the maiden from a prophecy made long ago. She is supposed to end the tyranny that has plagued the kingdom for all these years, and to do that she has to tame a unicorn. While on this wild adventure she meets many new friends and there may also be hope for her dying father. Everyone says that a unicorn has the power to heal the sick and lucky for Elayne she happens to know a unicorn.

The story is mostly told from Elayne’s point of view but there is a few times where you get to glimpse into the mind of the unicorn, Moonspell. I had a hard time with Elayne. She did have some good qualities like bravery, compassion, honesty, but I just found her voice to be really annoying. She is young and very immature which was hard for me as an adult to connect with. I usually love having a young adult as a protagonist, but they have to have a certain maturity level that Elayne just didn’t have. I think that a younger audience would have an easier time connecting with her as a character than I did.

Moonspell is the unicorn that helped Alice-Elayne escape all those years ago and he has called Elayne back to Goloth. He needs to help save the kingdom and in order to do that he has to be tamed by Elayne. It was interesting being inside his head. He has an internal battle going on where a part of him is crazy and out of control, than another side where he can see reason and wisdom. He needs to bring both sides together to bring harmony to the land and himself. I liked Moonspell just fine but there was nothing that really stuck out to me as unique or different about him.

This was just an ok read for me. Like I said, I had a hard time with Elayne, which made me feel disconnected with the story. Some of the things I did like were that it had good action and a fun adventure. The world was interesting and the descriptive writing made it easy to imagine everything. The pacing was a little slow for me and I had a hard time getting through some of the book because it would drag. Overall, I felt the book could have been better, but I think a younger audience would probably really enjoy this book.

Notable Scene:

Cross over, Alice-Elayne.

Her name! Spoken by a voice that seemed to be both in her head … and coming from the tapestry. She jumped, staggered a step forward. Maybe it was the yellow flashing lights. But the scene before her was no longer just hanging on a wall. It was something happening, an arm’s length away. Every plant moving in a breeze. Every hunter breathing in. Every animal crouching to leap.

And the unicorn … The unicorn was no longer in profile. She could see both its eyes, which were an extraordinary fathomless blue. They sparkled with a universe of stars, beneath a column of spiraling ivory….

The unicorn’s horn.

The unicorn’s horn! She clutched its shape beneath her sweater as if it could steady her for the words that came again.

Cross over.

She didn’t know if she fell or reached out to stop herself from falling. She just knew that when her fingertips touched cloth, they sank into it.

And the room turned upside down. Tapestry dissolving; her, falling. Into a woven tree, through the tree. No fear in the falling. No time for that. Time only for one question, one answer.

What do you do when a unicorn tells you to cross over?

You cross over.

FTC Advisory: Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House provided me with a copy of The Hunt of the Unicorn. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Aug 5, 2013 |
When Elayne's father asks her to read a story the night before he goes into the hospital, she grudgingly agrees. It's a fantasy, about maids and unicorns, but it's also a family history. Elayne is the descendant of a girl who promised to help a unicorn, should he need it. And suddenly Elayne is swept into a world of magical beasts, hunts, and a dangerous ruler determined to whip out the few unicorns left. It may be her destiny, but Elayne has no idea how to tame a unicorn or defeat a king.

Though fans of fantasy may enjoy this story, Humphreys' writing is clunky and the characters are one-dimensional. Elayne brings a modern teen's sensibilities to a medieval setting (we hear about how much her dress starts to stink after a few days, that she has no clue how to ride a horse, and how disgusting the food is - mostly meat and wine), and there are some funny parts to the story. We get a few chapters as told by Moonspill, an aging unicorn, and I enjoyed his perspective, but it wasn't enough to save this book. I would recommend it for upper elementary, except the author threw in a few colorful phrases that seemed entirely out of place. If you have a high demand for books with unicorns, perhaps get this, but it's not a must-have.
  tiamatq | Oct 7, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375858725, Hardcover)

Elayne thinks the old family story that one of her ancestors stepped through a tapestry into a world of mythical beasts makes a great fireside tale. But she lives in the real world. In New York City. And she's outgrown that kind of fantasy.

Until she finds herself in front of a unicorn tapestry at the Cloisters museum and sees her initials woven into the fabric. And hears a unicorn calling to her. And slips and falls—into that other world.

Suddenly the line between fantasy and reality isn't so clear. But the danger is real enough. Almost before she can think, Elayne is attacked by a ferocious beast, rescued by a unicorn, and taken prisoner by a tyrant king. Each of them seems to have an idea about her—that she's a hero, a villain, dinner!

But Elayne has a few ideas of her own. She wants to overthrow the king; she wants to tame the unicorn. She wants to go home! And she's willing to become both hero and villain to do it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:50 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Despite strange dreams and her ailing father's firm belief in the family lore of a long-ago ancestor's connection to the mythical unicorn, fifteen-year-old New Yorker Elayne remains skeptical until, during a school visit to the unicorn tapestries in the Cloisters, she finds herself entering a tumulteous world where she must fulfill the legacy of her ancestors by taming the unicorn and bringing a tyrant to justice.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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