'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Review: The Unicorn Riders Series

Finally, there is a well-written and compelling quest fantasy series for younger girls, packed with adventure, mystery and magic.

The Unicorn Riders are four very different girls, each with their own strengths and quirky foibles. Like real girls, they don’t always get along but when it comes to looking after the people of Avamay, they band together with the stirring call, ‘We ride as one!’

Book One of the Unicorn Riders series focuses on Quinn, the smallest and newest of the Riders. Quinn has a mysterious past, having been abandoned as a baby and brought up in an orphanage until chosen to be a Rider. She also has an unusual talent, being an excellent solver of riddles.

When young Prince Simon is kidnapped, Quinn’s riddle-solving abilities become a vital tool in solving the clues that the kidnappers have left for his rescuers. With the help of her unicorn, Ula and the other Riders, Quinn must solve the riddles, deliver the ransom and save Prince Simon before time runs out.

The adventure is well-paced with a completely unexpected twist that adds new depth to the main character and pushes them towards a greater understanding of themselves. These are stories with backbone that not only entertain but encourage the discussion of deeper issues such as what makes us who we are, can we overcome our past and can you help someone if they aren’t ready to be helped?

Importantly, the issues are handled with a light touch and humour interspersed throughout so the stories never get too dark for their intended audience.

Serious issues aside, there are many things for girls to love about this series, from the individual symbols of the riders to the unique magical qualities of each of the unicorns. The books are a perfect leaping point for imaginative play and with each book focusing on a different Unicorn Rider as its main character there is a story for everyone and a chance for each Rider to become your new favourite.

The magic of the unicorns is important, often adding beauty and wonder to the stories but ultimately it is the strength of character of the Riders that leads to their success.

Jill Brailsford’s illustrations have the look of medieval tapestries and lend a real authenticity to the stories and the setting of their medieval world. Author, Aleesah Darlison has obviously researched her time period well, adding interesting touches such as some of the rather unusual foods that our characters eat.

With strong, independent, female leads, action-packed adventure, friendship, beauty and wonder, I would say that the Unicorn Riders are set to become much loved and well-thumbed books in many young girl’s libraries.

- this review by new KBR contributor Jodie Wells-Slowgrove

Title: Unicorn Riders: Quinn’s Riddles
Author: Aleesah Darlison
Illustrator: Jill Brailsford
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date:
Format: Soft cover
ISBN: 9781921529979
For ages: 8 – 12
Type: Junior Fiction