Friday, April 8, 2011

Book Review - R. L. LaFevers' The Unicorn's Tale

The Unicorn's Tale (Nathaniel Fludd Book 4) by R.L. LaFevers
Published by: Houghton Mifflin
ARC Provided by Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: April 4th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 160 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
There's nothing Nate wants to do more than hunt down his odious cousin Obediah. He needs to find out if this feeling he's having, this hope that his parents are still alive, is justified. Beasts don't matter when he might get his parents back. But what does Aunt Phil do? Pack them all in her little plane, grumbling Dodo included, and head to France to deal with a Guivre! A little water spitting eel like creature that has quickly developed a fondness for soaking Nate. While wrestling with the wee beastie, Aunt Phil gets an urgent message from a Mr. Sylvan that the Unicorn he is the caretaker of is behaving oddly and he needs her help right away. So once again, instead of going back to England and trying to find out where Obediah has secreted himself, Nate is off to tend another creature with his Aunt. Luckily they are close by, and despite Nate's misgivings, Unicorns are pretty cool, especially when they are cared for by fauns! The torso of a man and the legs of a goat. Their arrival is rather later than the worried and harried faun would have liked... but after a good night's sleep they are all up at dawn and trekking into the forest to find Luminessa.

Aunt Phil quickly sees that Luminessa might pose a problem, that's until the unicorn recognizes the little Gremlin Greasle as a fair maiden. Maidens and unicorns go together like bread and butter, even if the maiden could use a bath. Also for the first time ever Phil realizes that perhaps Greasle is of use... diagnosing the unicorn is far easier with the calming influence of Greasle. They make a wonderful discovery and just as they are about to leave the forest to gather supplies, the odious Obediah appears. It is quite convenient to have your enemy show up when you've been wanting to have a bit of a chat... having that enemy show up on the doorstep of a rare and magical beastie... not good at all. Obediah has a deal to strike. Either they comply and not everyone looses, or they resist and he will make all suffer. Working against the clock they have 48 hours in which to foil Obediah and keep all mystical beasts safe from this madman and come out of this with the most precious of prizes.

Nathanial Fludd keeps growing on me. It's not just the message it sends about the preciousness of life and the danger of extinction. But it's the way Robin presents these lessons in a way that is a fabulous narrative with a heartwarming message at the center that is not beat into us or told to us in a condescending manner. I will admit, I did, when younger, have a weakness for unicorns. You can't fault me, I'm a child of the 80s and what with the Serendipity books and rainbows and Pegasuses being everywhere. And yes, there was a short time when I thought that if I wished hard enough I'd get to meet one. Here Robin brings us unicorns in all their glory! And rhinos are unicorns! This made me so happy and brought a smile from ear to ear. The classification of rhinos as unicorns made this a five star book hands down. Though I will admit, that Mr. Sylvan is a close second. He is a wonderful little nod to Mr. Tumnus in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He has a jaunty red scarf and when it says he has an umbrella stand near his fireplace I actually held my breath a little, but of course he keeps forks for roasting bread over the open fire there, not a little umbrella. In the end though, these little joys aren't what make this book the best. What does that is we have significant plot movement on the odious Obediah and the disappearance of Nate's parents. Though it's going to be a painful to wait for the next installment, I want the confrontation with the nasty nanny to be now... but with everything Robin writes, it will be worth the wait.


Unicorns seem to be regaining popularity again. I will keep this series in mind. It's something I think my kids will enjoy in a few years.

Oh, totally keep this in mind. It handles unicorns well and not too airy-fairy.

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