The Midnight Unicorn by Alice Hemming
Publisher: Kane Miller Publishing
Number of pages: 384
Published: September 5th, 2019
Opening Line: "The city of Essendor stood on a hill, a stone castle at its summit."
The Midnight Unicorn has the feel of reading a glorious fairytale, maybe Sleeping Beauty? It begins like most fairytales in a faraway kingdom, a new queen has been crowned and the women of the village are chatting while their children are playing nearby. One young boy breaks away from the others, climbs a tree and falls into a fast-moving river. Remarkably he shows up on shore, unharmed, professing to having been saved from drowning by a unicorn. From that day forward he was known as the Boy River.
The story then skips ahead five years to Queen Bia having given birth to twin girls. Concerned that her brother, Zelos might have plans to take the throne and harm the princesses, the Queen separates the two girls, sending one to grow up in the west as Alette, the daughter of a sorcerer, and the other to the east, Audrey to grow up as the daughter of a baker. Each daughter is given half of an identical pendant that will become one when they can be reunited.
So, the two girls grow up not knowing about each other. Their circumstances couldn't be any different. One long and strong, given the name meaning Truth, while the other smaller but given the name meaning Strength. All the while, both girls feeling as if a part of themselves is missing. The story then jumps ahead thirteen years, alternating between Alette and Audrey, each beginning to sense that the something missing from their lives is a person. Someone who resembles them, which leads Alette to question her father, Maneo, the sorcerer and eventually leads them on a journey to find Audrey. From there the two sisters learn the whole story of why they were separated at birth and the dangers that lie within the city of Essendor. As I said before, this has a very magical fairytale like feel to it. The unicorns were also a nice touch and I appreciated that this could be read as a standalone, but why would you want to? Come on, it's unicorns and a quest to reclaim a kingdom from their tyrannical uncle. Plus, there's River, the boy who sleeps under the stars, and can speak to animals. Such a sweet, free-spirited boy. Overall, this was a very satisfying story, it ticked off all the things I enjoy in a good fairytale, the two sisters reuniting and learning about each other was super fun and I liked how the story resolved.
**A huge thank you to Kane Miller Publishing for the paperback review copy**
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