First in the Unicorns of the Mist series
By R.R. Russell
Available now from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
WONDER LIGHT caught my attention from the opening chapters. Twig is going to Lonehorn Island because it has a ranch for delinquent girls. She's not happy about it, but at the same time doesn't want to stay with her stepmother. But it's quickly clear that Twig isn't an entirely reliable narrator.
R.R. Russell does a wonderful job of combining Twig's family drama with a tale about unicorns. Twig begins the book feeling unwanted, unloved, and unworthy. But after she takes responsibility for Wild Light, an orphaned baby unicorn, she begins to find her footing. As a bonus, these aren't treacly, fluffy unicorns. They're wild animals, and when they go bad they hunger for flesh. Fans of this series are going to grow up to read Diana Peterfreund's RAMPANT.
I wish there had been a bit more development of the other girls on the island. But since this is the beginning of a series, there's time for that. And really, Twig's characterization and growth is given quite a bit of depth. Don't worry that this is too girlish; there is a boy on the island, known initially as the "wild boy." He's a good companion to Twig, and I liked seeing their friendship and mutual respect grow.
There's enough depth to the plot and protagonist of WONDER LIGHT that older readers might find themselves pleasantly surprised. But it's definitely a great choice for the elementary or middle school kid who likes fantasy and being a little creeped out. Pick it up if you're hooked by the words "killer unicorns."
The ebook is on sale through August 4 for $1.99.