I received this book for free from ALAAC17 in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko
Series: The Unicorn Quest #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on February 6th 2018
Genres: Middle-Grade, fantasy
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Claire Martinson still worries about her older sister Sophie, who battled a mysterious illness last year. But things are back to normal as they move into Windermere Manor... until the sisters climb a strange ladder in a fireplace and enter the magical land of Arden.
There, they find a world in turmoil. The four guilds of magic no longer trust each other. The beloved unicorns have gone, and terrible wraiths roam freely. Scared, the girls return home. But when Sophie vanishes, it will take all of Claire's courage to climb back up the ladder, find her sister, and uncover the unicorns' greatest secret.
I had pretty high hopes going into this one. I love children’s portal fantasy books and add in a sister relationship and magic and a quest to find the truth?! I really thought this would be amazing. Unfortunately, at least for the adult audiences, this one falls short.
It was still okay but not nearly as good and exciting as it could have been. First, we barely get to see much of the sister relationship. We know Sophie was sick and we know Claire worries about her and their relationship now is different than it was before but none of that is really examined very deeply and almost as soon as the book starts, the sisters are separated until the very end. So the relationship the book is built on is barely even there. Then, the middle of the book is just extremely slow. And that’s from an adult’s perspective. The action scenes, when we get them, are good but there’s so much filler and explanation and traveling in the middle that I think even kids will get bored in those parts. I even skimmed a few of them myself. Lastly, and this is something kids might or might not pick up on, but there are a lot of very convenient fixes that get Claire out of trouble and solve problems that otherwise would have caused a lot of trouble for the characters. But everything worked out nicely in favor of the protagonist. And I think some of the more advanced readers will pick up on these easy fixes while the younger crowd will probably be excited by the journey. So consider that when thinking about who will best enjoy this book.
Overall, the book was fine. I think it’ll be really good for younger kids getting ready to move up to more involved fantasy fiction. But for the older crowd or more experienced readers, I don’t think it’ll be a hit. And that’s fine. We need books geared toward all ages and interests and I really think some kids will really love this series. I just wish it had a wider appeal.