Monday, June 22, 2015

Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville, 1994

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As each chime sounds, Cara climbs faster up the steep bell tower. Eleven! She must be on the roof when the next bell tolls. Twelve! With a deep breath, and only half believing she will survive, Cara jumps off the church roof and into Luster, land of the unicorns.
In Luster, Cara meets many wonderful creatures, but the most magnificent of all is Lightfoot, a rebellious young unicorn. Cara's band of friends comes to include a hairy creature named the Dimblethum and the monekey-like Squijim. Together, they set out to reach the Unicorn Queen before the mysterious man who is following them does - to prevent the destruction of all unicorns forever.
(176 pages)

This is a small book that I only found because a friend of mine recommended it to me. I read it, and enjoyed myself doing it, but then forgot to review it. I didn't fall desperately in love with the book or its world, didn't rush out to buy the rest of the books in the series that very minute - but yesterday, when I decided it was really (past) time for me to review Into the Land of the Unicorns, I requested the next few books from the library. I'm looking forward to seeing how Coville expands the story-lines he started in the first book.

First books in series are notorious for being nothing more than set-ups for the later installments. They set the stage, introduce the characters, and pull the reader in with an exciting premise that will be explored in the later books.That's exactly what happens in Into the Land of the Unicorns, with the added bonus of a nice little storyline (a quest-type journey) to tie all the world-building bits together. We get to learn about the world of Luster along with Cara, learning who to trust and who to avoid through Cara's experiences and interactions. The stage is set for a powerful tale of family, friendship, and forgiveness. Will it be thoroughly explored? I hope so, but I don't know. The story so far is stronger than I would have expected for its deceptively short size, but I'm not sure which of the many paths Coville will take to expand the story in the next books.

It's not exactly mind-blowing (I saw the plot twist coming from the very beginning!), but it's definitely promising. Cara doesn't get much time to show her stripes as a character, because she's pretty much constantly reacting to the events around her, but she has pretty strong characterization for someone in such a small book. My favorite characters, though, were the animals of Luster. From Lightfoot, the alternately wise and adolescent unicorn, to the Squijum (who reminds me a lot of Gurgi from the Prydain chronicles), every creature was unique and endearing in its own way. There is a Cara in every book; not as many feature characters like the bizarre assortment of beings living in Luster.

Honestly, I enjoyed it. The main issue I had with Into the Land of the Unicorns was its size; by the time I was into it, it was over! I won't be wholeheartedly recommending the series until I've read the later books, but if I do wind up suggesting it to people the one thing I know I'll warn is "don't start reading until you've got easy access to all of the books!"


  1. Wahh, I loved this book when I was a kid! For years there were only two... (after you read the second book you'll understand how painful that was :P). I was surprised and excited when two more books were finally released~

    1. Yeah, I have no idea how I didn't hear about these sooner. I'm excited to read the rest of the books (and very glad I'll have both the second and third book at the same time, so I don't have to worry about any nasty cliffhangers!).


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