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The Unicorn Quest


The Unicorn Quest

Kamilla Benko’s debut middle grade fantasy, THE UNICORN QUEST, is of the best middle grade novels I have read in a long time. It reminded me of my favorite childhood fantasy books such as the Narnia series and The Spiderwick Chronicles, as the characters fall into magic along with the reader.

The story begins with Claire and her older sister, Sophie, moving into their great aunt’s home for the summer to clean out her belongings. The two find more than they bargained for when they climb up a chimney and come out of a well into a magical world. The two girls encounter something evil and when they’re safely back home, Claire makes Sophie promise not go back. But when Sophie goes missing, Claire knows she didn't listen and finds herself on mission to track down her kidnapped sister in a magical world.

"Kamilla Benko’s debut middle grade fantasy, THE UNICORN QUEST, is of the best middle grade novels I have read in a long time."

Despite Claire and Sophie not being together for the majority of the book, it was still great to see strong familial female bonds in a middle grade novel. At the beginning of the story, we learn that Sophie had cancer and is in remission. It was a very human element to see juvenile cancer in a middle grade fantasy novel and see how it affected Sophie, Claire, their relationship and their entire family. I like that there wasn't a real sense of a sibling rivalry. Claire and Sophie do genuinely care for each other, even when it seems like they are making selfish choices.

The world and magic system was really unique. I love that we got just a taste of it in this first book, but it is clear that the rest of the series will heavily focus on the magic. I really like that there was a history to this world that went back hundreds of years. But none of the history that was explained never felt irrelevant.

There were so many twists and turns at the end of this novel. There were some that I saw coming and some that completely surprised me. I really liked that none of the characters were morally black or white. There were people I thought were evil who turned out good and vice versa. I loved that Claire and Sophie had some greater connection to this world, which will make them inherently important in future books.

There were some pacing issues with this story. The end was rushed quite a bit with the majority of the action at the end of the story. There was a lot of information dumping at the end to explain things. I wish the supporting characters had more development and would love to see them more in future books.

I genuinely enjoyed reading THE UNICORN QUEST and feel older middle grade and young YA readers will adore this story. Fingers crossed there are more unicorns in the sequel!

Reviewed by Dana Cuadrado on February 26, 2018

The Unicorn Quest
by Kamilla Benko

  • Publication Date: January 30, 2018
  • Genres: Children's, Children's 8-12, Fantasy, Fiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
  • ISBN-10: 1681192454
  • ISBN-13: 9781681192451