Rampant. And it was good. Really, really good.
Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.
Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.
However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to—perhaps most dangerously of all—her growing attraction to a handsome art student . . . an attraction that could jeopardize everything.
First off, can I say how much I like the idea of killer unicorns? Regular unicorns are blah. They're beautiful and perfect and the embodiment of all that's good and pure in the world. And that's not interesting. Who wants to read about silly, vapid little unicorns anyways?
That's why I applaud Ms. Peterfreund. She finally showed us what unicorns really are. Monsters.
Astrid's job as a unicorn hunter is in the tradition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (think tough blondes out to save the world) and the whole regiment of women warriors throughout history. I love the history and legend interludes the author puts in, and how unicorn history fits into it all. In Peterfreund's world, Alexander the Great supposedly conquered the world due to to the help of a horse-but-really-unicorn, and his female descendants are the only ones who can rid the world of unicorns. And Astrid turns out to be one of those descendants.
I really, really lurve the setting. Rome. Mmm. Gelato or art museums anyone? Astrid manages to sneak out of the cloisters and tour the city, as well as meet up with a couple of cute guys. And she learns some cool weapon skills on the way. She's like a superhero when she's a around unicorns; she can fight and heal better than any normal human can.
Oh and about the unicorns: they're terrifying. They're like all the horrible monsters in mythology wrapped into one evil, horned creature out to get Astrid. But Astrid is pretty tough herself. She comes away with some unicorn kills of her own.
Overall, I liked the author's writing style and her voice. Astrid came off as a likeable, relatable character. At some times I doubted the situation (for example, when Astrid's mother sends her off to the Rome without a second thought). And there are some heavy-handed messages about chastity. But I'm willing to forgive that for a fast-paced, well thought-out, and inventive narrative that kept me wanting more and flipping pages feverishly. The end left a lot of questions unanswered, so I'm hoping that means there's going to be a sequel. Pretty please?
Actually, I liked it so much I'm going to buy it off Amazon (hey, it's cheaper). Why not join me?
I give it a 9/10