The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko
Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781681192451
(Age: 8-12) Themes: Fantasy, Adventure, Unicorns, Courage. Kamilla Benko's debut novel is an enchanting fantasy, filled with magic, adventure and tests of courage. Set in Arden, a delightfully captivating world where the last unicorn has disappeared, where secrets abound and tensions run high between the four guilds of magic who have lost trust in each other.
The Martinson family inherit mysterious Windermere Manor and move in for the summer. Sisters Sophie and Claire love exploring the vast rooms filled with antiques and art collected on their Great-Aunt Diana's travels. They discover a ladder in a fireplace leading to another world and their adventure begins. Sophie is a collector of experiences who is recovering from a mystery illness, she loves to explore. Her younger sister Claire an artist, is more hesitant, she carries her pencil everywhere to capture what she sees. The portal leads them into a fractured world, where four guilds protect their own lands and guard them fiercely.
When Sophie disappears, Claire must overcome her fears and search for her lost sister. With the help of Nett a Tiller and Sena a Forger, Claire must bravely embark on a quest across treacherous lands to find Sophie. Her sister has been accused of stealing a magical unicorn artefact that has kept the peace amongst the Arden guilds. Each relies on magical elements for survival, the Tillers use the special powers of plants, whilst the Forgers rely on the qualities of metal objects. Their journey to Fyrton is dangerous: wraiths haunt the forests at night, the adventurers travel hidden in a merchant Spinner's boat, they escape from captivity using aqua masks and sneakily search the Forger's school library for clues. Along the way, Claire grows in courage, learns to overcome her self-doubt, learns resilience and surprises herself with the tasks she undertakes.
'The Unicorn Quest' by Kamilla Benko is a classic fantasy quest, with a plot that follows the traditional format. Interwoven historic tales, hidden clues and engaging characters add interest for the middle grade reader.