Today I’m reviewing a book which is very different from the other books I’ve reviewed thus far. I’ve sampled a bit of everything, from “mature” books like Anna James Watson’s Blackmail to Samantha Ryan Chandler’s inspirational A Love Story: How God Pursued Me and Found Me and Ameel Koro’s epic historical fantasy Sister of Echo: The Making of a Villain. Today’s book is yet another flavor of fantasy, one which is simultaneously relaxing and stimulating and defies any clear age group classification. For this post, I’m going to review The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to Osm by Sybrina Durant.
This illustrated novel follows the struggles of a tribe of Metal Horn unicorns as they try to avoid slaughter by the evil sorcerer Magh. As their numbers dwindle and all beings on MarBryn fall prey to Magh’s dark magic, there seems to be no hope for the desperate unicorns. Then Alumna, the oracle of the Metal Horn tribe, receives a message from her crystal ball about the one destined to save them: a blue unicorn to be born to Miral, the indium-horned unicorn. However, the tribe loses heart when the unicorn is born not with a metal horn but with a plain blue leather horn. No metal, no magic. How could this magicless foal possibly be their savior?
Fast-forward twenty years. The tribe has suffered many losses at Magh’s hands, including the death of Blue’s mother, Miral. Blue has grown up accepted and loved by his tribe, especially his stable mate and dearest friend, the golden unicorn Ghel. While he is not the hero they expected and one male unicorn teases him, the only one to really give Blue grief is himself. He feels like an outsider and is disappointed that he does not seem to be the magnificent savior that Alumna had prophesied.
Then, when all had lost faith in her visions, Alumna receives life-changing news from Numen, the otherworldly device behind the visions in her crystal ball. They’re going back to Unimaise, the world from which all unicorns originate, and Blue will be the one to get them there. Alumna tells Blue of the development and how he must go to Musika Wood in order to meet with the Moon-Star, which holds Numen. Blue embarks before they can meet with the rest of the tribe, but he lacks a crucial piece of information. Blue must be in the Musika Wood with the rest of his tribe or else he will die when the Moon-Star arrives and all will be lost.
Durant takes the reader on a series of mini-adventures with Blue, his tribe, and his non-unicorn companions, culminating in an epic battle of good versus evil. Will Blue meet his destiny? Will he and the other unicorns make it back to Unimaise? And if they do, what will they find when they finally come home?
Paired with beautiful watercolor illustrations, this story is a quick and engaging read that’s enough to keep anyone’s attention from start to finish. Durant writes with a simple style and vocabulary, although by no means is it a simple book. While an easy read for anyone 12 years old and above, the book conveys themes and messages with multiple layers, some of which may be hard for a younger audience to handle. The story openly explores death and the grief which accompanies loss, as well as the importance of believing in yourself and condoning violence.
I would argue that the writing, at times, can be too young for older readers to feel fully stimulated. However, it reads more like a fairy tale than a modern children’s book. Durant seems to be writing for children when, like traditional fairy tales, many components are better-suited for an audience of the middle grade and older age groups. Much of the humor, while clever, would also go over a younger audience’s head.
Many of the creature names—“Hoipolloi”, “Pendragon”, “Ragamoffyns”—make for humorous puns that, while childlike in nature, would only be understood by an older audience. Durant creates an overall vivid world with many imaginative elements, including my favorite, the Rainbow Colored Lands of Weita. This magical world combined with the pun-like names help the already-compelling plot construct a very entertaining read.
However, some of the names are little too heavy on the pun element for my liking. “Magh” for the magic-wielding sorcerer, “Iown” for the iron-horned unicorn who irons out disputes, “Nix” for the nickel-horned unicorn who nixes danger, it can feel cheesy after a while. Given the overall children’s book feel, I brushed these names off without too many problems. Still, given that it’s Middle Grade and suggested for readers 12-18 years old, I’m not sure how older readers will take them.
Durant severely under-develops the antagonist, Magh. He acts like the stereotypical villain, one with very little depth or reason for causing turmoil other than he likes power and pain. Durant briefly dives into his backstory, enough to perk my interest and make me realize that he could be so much more than he is in this story. I wish we could have learned more about him, such as why he took so well to the power he felt from evil magic when he was younger.
I also spotted a few grammar errors, including missing words and misplaced quotation marks. They aren’t that frequent in the beginning but seem to grow in number in the second half of the book. Regardless, they didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book.
All in all, I really liked this book—loved it, even. It took me on a rollercoaster of emotions, easing me into the harder moments and providing enough humor throughout that I never felt overwhelmed. I saw many deeper messages throughout the story and genre-bending elements, a mix of fantasy and science fiction reminiscent of Anne McCaffrey’s The Dragonriders of Pern series, had it been written for a younger audience. The pronunciation guide, unicorn diagram, and map at the end of the book serve as great aids and are themselves entertaining.
If Durant chooses to pursue the worlds of MarBryn and Unimaise further, you can be certain that I’ll be checking out those books. To me, it doesn’t matter what age group the world is intended for. I’m a born-and-raised fantasy fan; if I like the premise, I’m going to read it, whether it’s G-rated or X-rated. I suggest other readers do likewise and fantasy readers in particular explore MarBryn and Unimaise.
To buy The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to Osm as an e-book on Amazon, follow this link.
In addition to a Kindle e-book, The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to Osm is also available as a coloring book. You’re never too old to color, after all. In fact, it can be quite the stress-reliever, so if you need an outlet, consider buying the coloring version for a great read and relaxation.
For more information on this book and Durant’s other work, check out the writer’s website and follow her on Twitter as @Sybrina_spt.
Have you read Durant’s work? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Know a book I should review or want me to review your book on this blog? E-mail me at email@example.com or reach out to me on Fiverr.