Skandar and the Unicorn Thief

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief
Author(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
May 03, 2022
ISBN
978-1665912730
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Skandar Smith has always yearned to leave the Mainland and escape to the secretive Island, where wild unicorns roam free. He’s spent years studying for his Hatchery exam, the annual test that selects a handful of Mainlander thirteen-year-olds to train to become unicorn riders. But on the day of Skandar’s exam, things go horribly wrong, and his hopes are shattered…until a mysterious figure knocks on his door at midnight, bearing a message: the Island is in peril and Skandar must answer its call.

Skandar is thrust into a world of epic sky battles, dangerous clashes with wild unicorns, and rumors of a shadowy villain amassing a unicorn army. And the closer Skandar grows to his newfound friends and community of riders, the harder it becomes to keep his secrets—especially when he discovers their lives may all be in graver danger than he ever imagined.

Editor review

1 review
Trust the goodness within yourself.
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
The first thing readers will notice is that unicorns aren’t beautiful, graceful creatures from mythology. They tend to be aggressive and dangerous and are known to cause chaos, especially if they’re wild unicorns. People on the Mainland discover their existence when a video is released showing the wild unicorns attacking and killing villagers. All children turning thirteen are now required to take an exam that will allow them to attend the Hatchery each year. During this ceremony, teens are selected by unicorn eggs that will bind them for life. Bonded unicorns and their riders are able to wield elemental magic to protect the Island and its people.
Skandar’s situation will immediately grasp the attention of readers. His father is struggling emotionally since his wife died, and the thing giving him hope is that one of his children will become a unicorn rider. Skandar’s sister wasn’t chosen the year before, and problems arise with Skandar’s test. Eventually, he makes it to the Hatchery, bonds with a Scoundrel’s Luck, and makes several friends. The unlikely quartet of new riders must work together to protect Skandar and his unicorn. Skandar and Scoundrel possess a rare ability that may result in their execution if anyone outside their group finds out. The Weaver has the same ability and has been leading wild unicorn attacks against the Hatchery and the Mainland. Skandar may be the only person able to stop him if he’s not discovered and executed first. Readers will also learn there are many secrets waiting to we uncovered.
While the concept of the plot isn’t overly original, the unicorns are the highlight of the story, as they possess independent personalities, are impulsive, and create havoc wherever they go. They have connections to the earth elements (air, water, fire, or land) and it’s common to see them shooting fire, squirting water, or giving electrical shocks to other unicorns and their riders. Skandar develops an emotional/mental connection to Scoundrel, but his unicorn sometimes loses control while trying to suppress his power. The unpredictability of the unicorns’ behaviors means their actions will often result in surprises.
What didn’t work as well:
The basic storyline is fairly common among middle-grade novels. The unassuming young boy discovers he has rare, powerful abilities, meets several friends in a select school, and then must find a way to save everyone. However, the familiarity of the plot makes it easy to follow, and the author adds unique touches to make the story captivating.
The Final Verdict:
Trust the goodness within yourself. This book will appeal to animal lovers, although the unicorns don’t always behave like faithful human companions. The recognizable story still holds unexpected twists that make it creative and entertaining. I recommend you give it a shot, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.
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