After completing my latest read, Rampant by Diana Peterfreund, I can now add unicorns to the long list of things that terrify me. (The list includes but is not limited to: clowns, balloons, the dark, thunderstorms, arachnids, other creepy crawlies, any rodent, most birds, evil children (like in Children of the Corn), heights, falling, failure, and attics. I’m a little neurotic.)
In Rampant, the story begins with our main character, Astrid Llewelyn, reading a happy story about unicorns to the kids she is babysitting. The story paints unicorns as light and fluffy creatures who are friendly to all. But Astrid has always been told a different kind of story. She has been raised with stories of killer unicorns with venomous horns and razor-sharp teeth who think of nothing but devouring those in their paths. According to family history, Astrid comes from a long line of unicorn hunters, dating back to the time of Alexander the Great. Now, Astrid thinks this stuff is a bunch of hokum, but things begin happening that force her to change her mind.
After Astrid gets the kids to sleep, she calls her boyfriend over for some make-out time. They’re in the backyard, doing what teens in “love” do, when Astrid gets a weird feeling. She sees something in the distance. It gets closer and closer. Astrid can’t really believe what she’s seeing. It’s a unicorn, and it wants to kill her boyfriend. Astrid doesn’t really know what’s going on, but after her boyfriend is attacked and begins to succomb to the unicorn venom, she knows just who to call–her mother. (That’s probably who I’d call, too.) Dear old mom just so happens to have the one thing that can heal Astrid’s boyfriend, but after all of this, Astrid knows she can kiss her date to prom goodbye.
So, unicorns are real, and Astrid is sent to Rome to learn how to become a unicorn hunter. (Remember that whole family history? Turns out it was true, and only female virgin descendants of Alexander the Great can be unicorn hunters. Much to Astrid’s dismay, she qualifies.) She stays at the cloisters, kind of a convent for unicorn hunters, and knows she’s susceptible to unicorn attack each time she steps outside the walls. Unicorns are drawn to the hunters, and each side knows that a war is brewing.
Despite all that she faces, both as a unicorn hunter and a teenage girl discovering her identity, Astrid comes to realize that she is an integral part of what is going on around her. What will become of Astrid and the other hunters? Can they survive against marauding bands of killer unicorns? What makes the hunters so special, and why is Astrid believed to be a particularly skilled huntress? Can Astrid ever be a normal teenage girl? Believe and beware when you read Rampant by Diana Peterfreund.
Even though the unicorns scared me a bit, I really enjoyed this book and will recommend it to adult and teen readers. If you would like more information, visit Diana Peterfreund’s website at www.dianapeterfreund.com.