Plot: Forget everything you think you know about unicorns. Astrid has been raised on tales of blood thirsty killer unicorns and the girls who hunted them. She always thought it was nothing more than her mother’s delusions until her boyfriend is gored by one. The supposedly extinct unicorns are making a reappearance and only girls like Astrid, descendant from Alexander the Great, can stop them.
A lifelong love of The Last Unicorn cartoon (and recently the amazing comic published by IDW) aside, I usually consider myself to be Team Zombie but Peterfreund may have converted me (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to read Zombies vs Unicorns). Her killer unicorns, not to mention her kick-ass unicorn hunters are simply awesome. I was on the edge of my chair from start to finish.
The story is action packed and the mythology is fascinating (with some twists that will surprise you) but what makes the story great is the girls. Astrid is a strong, independent young woman who wants to be a doctor, not a killer of magical creatures. She tries to be scientific about the mythical role she is thrown into (when she isn’t trying to get out of it). And yet, despite her resistance, she is an incredible warrior. Her relationship with her mother could carry the story by itself. The other girls have just as complex reasons for wanting to be, or not to be, unicorn hunters. The focus is mainly on Astrid, her cousin Phil and Cory but each of the girls has a story and I am very curious to know each of them better.
Romance, meanwhile, is a complicated thing when you’re supposed to be a virgin unicorn hunter, when sleeping with a guy means the end of your calling. Peterfreund doesn’t try to pretend otherwise, but she refuses a simple Madona/Whore dichotymy. The girls’ reasons for being virgins are diverse and they are their own. They own their sexuality and they refuse to be cloistered. And despite the restrictions, Astrid’s relationship with Giovanni is incredibly hot. I mean it, smoking. He’s a great romantic lead too: smart, kind, artsy and respectful of Astrid’s decisions. I’m adding him to my list of fictional boyfriends.
This book will change how you think about unicorns forever. Read it. I’m really looking forward to finding out where the girls may be going next. Lucky for me the sequel, Ascendent, is already available.