For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle
This will most certainly be a rant-y review so do with it what you may.
It was so hard for me to get into this book. With the promise of unicorns, magic, and talking trees, I really thought I would enjoy this book. However, for most of the book, I really didn't care what happened to any of the characters. Well, that's not entirely true. I did care about Bilbo, the dog, because no one can not love a dog named after a hobbit. But...
then the dog is freaking murdered and thrown in the river. Excuse me? What the F just happened? I am known for not reading books about dogs, because I know they are going to die. But this death was so random and not even necessary for the plot. The only purpose it served was to motivate Jo, Nat's best friend, to want to fight the bad guys. Because catching the people who kidnapped your best friend isn't motivation enough? We had to make them dog-murderers too? Horrible, horrible, horrible.
I wish I would have stopped reading there. I almost did, but I have this annoying habit of trying to stick with a book once I start it. It didn't get much better from there.
The whole thing is insanely dark. There is kidnapping, alcoholism, children being drugged, murderous rampaging unicorns. Oh, and having ones familiar eat other people's familiars in order to bind them to you. Seriously, eat them. Because there wasn't enough gross animal abuse to begin with.
This book is a high fantasy that is meant for young-ish readers, I would guess middle schoolers. But I used to read books like this when I was that age (because I was obsessed with unicorns) and I hated them then too (because they all somehow made unicorns boring). Overly long and surprisingly dull. I hated reading this as an adult and my middle school self hated that I didn't learn my lesson about these kinds of books back then.
Also, the magical elements just felt lazy. There was a tendency to just add the word spell to anything to make it sound more magical (spellfire, spellrope, spellclave, Spellfall, Spell Lord, Spell Lady, Spellmage, just to name a few). It was horribly unimaginative.
The magic was also weirdly scientific. I've read books that combined magic and science successfully, but this is not one of them. If anything, it just made the text more boring and confusing.
Okay read. I could have done without finishing it, but it is what it is. I'm so glad to be done with it so I can read literally anything else.