Majanka's Reviews > Unicorn Keep

Unicorn Keep by Angelia Almos
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May 10, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, read-2012, romance, young-adult
Read in May, 2012

Unicorn Keep by Angelia Almos is a gem in young adult literature. How many times do you read young adult books featuring unicorns as one of the primary creatures of interest? Probably not all that often. I personally have trouble finding unicorn-related books, although they’re a species that intrigue me thoroughly. So imagine my happiness when not only I found a book featuring unicorns and unicorn lore, but it was also written in an enjoyable prose and with characters that I could actually root for.

The book starts out with Jiline and her best friend Madalen as they’re waiting for the mages, who have taken this exact moment to drop by their town, to test them using a crystal. If the crystal glows, it means they’re fit to be unicorn keepers. If it doesn’t, they aren’t. For Madalen the crystal starts to glow, much to her own sadness. Madalen is happily in love with the mayor’s son, Wilm, and last thing she wants to do is leave the village to go take care of some mythical creatures. Jiline, who by some strange coincedence looks so much like Madalen that they could be sisters, isn’t chosen. Once she arrives home, she realizes her parents actually wanted her to get chosen. With no good prospects for either of her older sisters when it comes to marriage and hardly any money to provide for all of them, they would’ve liked nothing more than Jiline to leave and become a unicorn keeper.

Jiline and Madalen quickly come up with a plan. Madalen will leave with Wilm to the city, where they will start a life together, and Jiline will go to the Unicorn Keep in her best friend’s place. While Jiline expects to get send back almost immediately, strangely enough the unicorns accept her as a keeper. Even more, they request her help for a special mission, one the mages living in the Unicorn Keep can’t know about.

Life at the Unicorn Keep isn’t easy though. Not only does Jiline have to keep her friendship to the unicorns a secret, but she also has trouble knowing how to behave around Herrick, a mage who she met earlier while traveling to the keep and who seemingly can’t take his eyes off her. When nasty rumors flourish, Jiline learns that she may even have an enemy or two at the keep…

Can she keep her promise to the Unicorns and, when the time is right, save them from their imprisoned existence? Does she actually have feelings for Herrick, or not? And most importantly, can she survive long enough to figure out what it all means?

I liked the main character, Jiline. She’s brave and sometimes a little stupid in the sense that she doesn’t stop to think about the consequences of her actions – a typical sign of youth, and something that made me like her even more. She’s also pretty oblivious to Herrick’s true feelings for her, but since all he does is look at her, that’s not too surprising. I liked how there are a lot of surprises around this character that I didn’t see coming. For starters, she only vaguely wonders why she wasn’t chosen by the crystal, and it’s only later revealed how the crystal really works. The author doesn’t spill out all the secrets at once, which is great and keeps the tension high.

I also liked Herrick. As the main love interest, he’s very intriguing. He gets jealous of Eli, another keeper, when he spends time with Jiline, but he doesn’t go over the top when being jealous. He also knows when to keep his distance, something which adds to his personality. As a mage, he’s very much confined to the ways mages have thought for centuries, like for instance a mage can only be drawn to another mage, but he’s also not too singleminded to let that stand in the way of his true thoughts. He honours the traditions but isn’t afraid to break them when needed. On the possible boyfriend ladder in literature, he scores quite high.

Unicorn Keep is a fast read and ideal for fans of young adult fantasy who are sick and tired of vampires, werewolves and faeries and want to see something different for a change. There’s not a lot of description, but that makes it possible for the reader to imagine themselves how everything would like, like the Keep and the Unicorn forest, and I actually didn’t mind.
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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather Davis I think I want to read this one now!


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