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Bruce Coville got more and more long-winded as this series went on. I'm still trying to decide whether that's a good thing or not. I've never been a huge fan of the technique where the author switches POV every other chapter, telling two separate stories about two separate main characters. I usually find it really annoying, actually, because you're constantly braking to a halt just when one story is getting good, then switching to the other storyline that you've kind of forgotten about, and then switching back to the first one and so on and so forth.
In this case, though, this method worked pretty well. I mean, it worked better than it usually does. I still got frustrated every now and then when a story was cut off just as it was getting good, but in general it was pretty smooth. I guess it's just the best way to tell two different stories, when they're going on in completely different locations. My biggest beef with Dark Whispers, besides the switching-POVs, is actually one I already mentioned in my review of the second book - I don't like Cara's father. Like, at all. His motives just felt so fake to me, and I honestly didn't even believe his "transformation" at the end of Song of the Wanderer. By the end of the third book, I guess I do believe it (either that or he is most definitely biding his time), and he had some inner monologues that cleared up a little bit of the fog around his motives throughout the series, but still. I just don't like him.
Things weren't perfect over on Cara's side either (I mean seriously, her grandmother is terrible at communicating with people - and not in a "this makes sense" kind of way, but in a "I'm trying to keep the reader in suspense" way), but it was on the whole a much better read. I love Cara a lot, and while she still feels rather like a vanilla character, you really can't help but root for her. The discoveries she makes at the end of the book are pretty mind-blowing, and I love the new friend she makes along the way to her destination. Cara sometimes reminds me of Jenna from the Septimus Heap books, and the resemblance was strongest in Dark Whispers. It's funny, because I can't really identify why that is, or why she reminds even me of Jenna at all, but the underground scenes definitely had a Septimus-Heap-like feel to them. Which is definitely a plus in my book.
All in all, this is a pretty solid installment in the Unicorn Chronicles. If I was reviewing it as a standalone, I would be pretty tangled up between the parts I loved and the parts I . . . didn't. As it is, I can definitely recommend it as the continuation in a good series.
And now I need to travel an hour by car to get a copy of the fourth book from a different library system, because it went out of stock in, like, a day as far as I can tell. I'll post a review when I get my hands on a copy.