Unicorn Tracks by Julia Ember, is a novel that is centered around a safari business that tracks both “normal” and mystical animals. The main character, Mnemba, guides travelers from afar on expeditions in hopes of showing them the natural and mystical surroundings of the savannah she calls home. It is this part of the book that initially what drove me to read it, and while it did meet some of my expectations, I felt as though there was a lot potential that was left unmet.
reckless adventure, mystical milieu, and a dubious romance
What I liked:
- I loved the whimsy of the world that Ember created. The idea that there are mystical creatures living alongside us is just too cool to pass up. The details about the mermaids, chimeras, phoenixes, unicorns, etc were just fascinating. I wish there had been more!
- This is a short book (155 pages), so it moves quickly. On the one hand, I really liked that about this book (on the other hand… see below). There weren’t dull moments and the story never dragged.
What didn’t cut it:
- This is a tale of instant love if I’ve ever read one. It spans a total of two weeks, and in that time we go from meeting each other for the first time to saying View Spoiler »“I love you & I want to stay here instead of going home even though I’ve only known you for two weeks.” « Hide SpoilerUmmm, whoa there. Slow down folks! It just wasn’t convincing. At all.
- While I liked that the book was quick, it was almost too fast paced. The ending felt rushed and the resolution of the conflict was too neatly tied up, making it feel unrealistic in the world that Ember created.
- Mnemba and Kara, our main characters, had a lot of questionable decision making. They were often rash to the point of being unbelievable. I understand how their decisions were critical to the plot development; however, the choices made were often so unbelievable it created a faulty framework for the entire story. Ultimately, their characters lacked sophistication appropriate for their supposed ages.
Ultimately, I felt as though my main issue was that the entire book lacked the complexity and sophistication I was craving. It read almost like a children’s novel (not in content, but in plot development/story evolution).
Have you read this novel? Or better yet, have you read any books similar? I’d love to read another book similar to this (in terms of fantasy world meets our world).