This seems to be my week for reading (and liking) books to which my initial reaction was, “Ehh… that sounds pretty dumb.”
What “sounded pretty dumb” to me in this case was Diana Peterfreund telling a story in which unicorns are actually venemous fanged monsters that crave human flesh. It sounded completely incredible to me. The pure, white, virgin-associated unicorns, attacking and eating people? Nonsense!
As a mythology buff, I really should know better. Ten minutes of research into the matter will reveal that until Christian propaganda stepped in during the Dark Ages, unicorns came in all shapes and colors, many of them vicious. For a quick but accurate summary of the various unicorns depicted in Rampant, and their historical bases, go here. I especially love the story of Bucephalus. For lack of a good reason not to, I’m going to choose to believe that that’s true.
Having thusly established the credibility of the fantasy, let me just say that the book itself was well-written, well-paced, and generally lively and interesting. At times, I couldn’t quite understand why Astrid bowed to her mother’s wishes so easily, but that could just be me. I also had trouble keeping all of the girls straight in the very beginning, but they quickly established themselves as individuals in my mind. I loved Bonegrinder; best pet ever.
So if you want to read a story about unicorns that aren’t so sparkly and saccharine as to make you vomit, this is the book for you. Great protag who really kicks ass, wonderful mysteries surrounding the whole unicorn hunter mythos, and enough left hanging that the sequel looks promising.