What a delightful novella; firstly thank you to the author for sending me a copy of the book. I still can’t believe that authors ask me to review their books, so I always make sure that I put everything into these reviews. It was very recently the year anniversary of ‘mylittlebookblog,’ and its apparent success, has come from making these reviews as personal and as detailed as possible; and this one will be no different. Nevertheless, I will stop rambling now and get onto the review of this charming book. Hope you enjoy!
In an age when people lived off the land and the Wild was still wild—
when a young Queen warmed the throne and her Bulwark Knights patrolled the unruly borders—
the edge of civilisation was a place where dreams went to die.
Asher’s best friend has been poisoned.
He has three days to live.
The only cure: a unicorn horn.
The only place to find one:
Dragoncliff Cove, where none dare go.
Exciting, right? This is a book of fantasy, of dragons and unicorns, of knights and wild beasts. So it may come as a surprise that the protagonist is a fifteen-year-old boy. Young Asher joins a troop of rather arrogant soldiers, a knight, and most importantly an ostracised healer as they go on a life-changing, mystical and magical adventure. The son of a farmer, Asher is going to have a big reality shock; one knock on the door and events are set in motion that will change not only his life, but also the life he will attempt to save by going on this journey. See, Asher has committed a seemingly light-hearted prank with his friend; however it ends in disaster and leads to Asher fighting for his own life, which he has willingly put in danger to help save that same friend. The only cure is a unicorn horn. Asher must go on this quest and find the horn before it’s too late! The book continues with us voyaging with the unlikely protagonist through new locations and meeting dangerous creatures. I don’t want to give too much away or give too many spoilers because this book is definitely worth a read, and it will lose something in the telling, so I’ll leave the rest up to you!
‘Once upon a dawn in the far-flung village of Southwind, Asher stirred from sleep. There was a hammering on the frail cottage door, and it dispelled the boy’s dreams, returning him from green, distance lands to his reality.’ What a beautiful first sentence and this fabulous language continues all the way through this short but very sweet fantasy. The writing has a beautiful and honest quality to it, which really draws the reader into the story and pushes the imagination of the reader. Some scenes further into the book are quite violent, mostly including the creatures such as the dragon and honestly; at times this made me feel quite moved. Notably, this is not easy for an author to do as it means manipulating the emotions of the reader using a fantasy setting which doesn’t link to the reader on a physical level so it makes it difficult to make a connection with the reader. However here it has been done very well and that is a credit to the author. What I liked most about the plot was that it tells the story of the young boy, and at the end of the story he is still that same young boy. He does grow, but you can still see the same naïve and sweet natured boy, who, although shaken by his adventures has most importantly by the ending, learnt a lesson. He remains believable, as a fifteen year old but one who will be a wiser man for them. Additionally, the author doesn’t swamp the book with endless description but instead he keeps the pace, with strong explanation and with an understanding of how to keep a reader interested. It gives the story a feeling of fragility, which is really beautiful. I’m finding it hard to describe it, but it has an honest and delicate style that emulates the feelings of the young boy, allowing us to empathise with him, and understand his predicament through the style. This is something that you do not come across very often and I have seen in a few reviews that it has been criticised. I think it brings something different to the fantasy genre and it makes me really want to read more from this author. This then grows later in the story and it takes a darker tone which helps to give more depth to the narrative and allows for further exploration of the characters. Moving on from that, the characters are well developed and they hold strong profiles and have easily identifiable character profiles which is a strong quality of the book. Another point is that due to the use of the unicorn and certain fantasy elements you would expect the book to become a little clichéd, however the author manages to avoid this and the book feels fresh and new. Slight moan, the ending fell a little flat seeing as it had been built up so extensively; however the cliff-hanger leads me to think that this will be explored in the next instalment! (Which I cannot wait to read!)
This book is a fantastical journey, of growing up, learning about life, and taking control. It is written with a beautiful understanding of prose and how to keep pace. If you’re looking for something fresh and a little different but in the fantasy genre, this is definitely worth a read! (PS: how beautiful is the cover!)