There’s a story behind this one.
When I was younger, I was obsessed with unicorns. It was hard to find novels that featured them, but I read every one I could get my hands on. The unicorns I read about weren’t dainty, cute, pink maned creatures that pooped rainbows — the kind you see everywhere these days. They were beautiful and majestic, pure-hearted but also incredibly dangerous. I think it was that mix of beauty, purity and ferocity that made them my favorite mythological creature when I was young.
At some point, I came across a series called the Unicorn Chronicles, written by Bruce Coville. There were two books, the first called “Into the Land of the Unicorns,” and the second called “Song of the Wanderer.” I read them sometime when I was in elementary school and, at the end of the second it became immediately clear that there was another book in the series. So, of course, my mom and I headed off to Barnes and Nobles to pick up a copy of the third book.
We came home empty handed.
I have vivid memories of my mom and I, prowling bookshelves. I don’t remember how long we searched, but for a number of years, every time my mom and I went into a book store, we would go to the customer service desk and ask if they had a copy of the elusive book three. They always said no.
Eventually, the series faded into the back of my mind and I forgot about it.
For an unknown reason, an old memory resurfaced a few months ago and I became curious again about the fate my once beloved series. I jumped online armed with little more than a weak summary — the title of the books and the author had long since been forgotten. I knew with certainty, however, that once I saw them I would recognize them immediately. It was enough. A brief Google search later and I had recovered not only the series title, but also that it was at last complete. In 2008 and 2010, Coville published not just one, but two final installments to the series. Book two was published in 1999. That’s nearly ten years later. In other words, a series that I began when I was in elementary school was completed while I was in high school!
I think I’m going to have to order that last two books online, because the entire series is now out of print and the last two books appear to be a little hard to find. Until then I stopped by a local bookstore and picked up copies of both the first and second book so that I could restart the series from scratch. The third and fourth books I will review individually in later posts.
There’s no doubt that these are children’s books. There is something youthful and naive in the language they are written in and though the author’s descriptions are deep, the vocabulary he uses is not complex.
That being said, I enjoyed reading these now every bit as much as I did as a child. There is something so enchanting about this series. It is full of adventure, has a plethora of magical creatures ranging from unicorns and dragons to gryphons and dwarves, and has a strong female main character — who isn’t so strong that you forget she’s a young girl, and who still knows how to ask for and accept help.
I even found myself tearing up at several points along the books — something I haven’t done for any of the more “adult” books that I have read recently. There were tender moments, some great surprises, and a wonderful wrap-up at the end. And just as it happened when I was a child, when book two was over I found it an almost unbearable fact that I wasn’t able to immediately pick up the next installment in the series.
I would most definitely recommend this series to any of you that have elementary aged children who love to read. But after they are finished, I would recommend it to you as well.
Since I am feeling nostalgic today, I thought I would sit down and review this series while sipping a cup of earl grey tea.
Earl grey has always been my favorite tea. When I was little, it was because it made me feel distinctly British as I sat around with my friends, playing at hobbit tea parties. These days, I enjoy the subtle flavors hidden within the black tea base and the scent of orange blossoms every time I bury my nose into a cup to take a long, deep inhale.
Earl grey tea is a black tea flavored with bergamot oil. This oil is obtained from the rind of bergamot oranges, a slightly bitter breed of orange that supposedly tastes like a cross between an orange and a lemon or a lime. I enjoy mine black, but it also tastes delicious with a bit of sugar and some cream or milk.