"A Plague of Unicorns" by Jane Yolen, is a fantasy set in a medieval monastery. James, the inquisitive son of an earl, is sent to be educated at Cranford Abbey. Unfortunately, the abbey is falling apart. Abbot Aelian could save the abbey with his family's secret recipe for golden apple cider -- if only the unicorns would stop devouring the golden apples...
Can the plague of unicorns be stopped? Can the abbey be saved? Can James help?
I was very intrigued by the beautiful cover of this book and the premise of a "plague" of unicorns, however, I found the book very difficult to get through.
As for the aforementioned questions -- not all of them are answered in this novel. If the real problem of the novel is the need to save the abbey then this novel does not actually have a resolution.
The monks believed that unicorns were "the animal avatar of the Christ" and that harming a unicorn brought about the greatest of misfortunes, but I guess, recruiting "heroes" to defeat unicorns brings no misfortune at all.
These unicorns (animal avatars of the Christ as you'll recall) pierce one monk, run another through the thigh and cause three infants to have screaming nightmares. Not very Christ-like of those unicorns.
Benedict Cumber, is introduced as James tutor, but we all know that Benedict Cumber or "Cumbersome" as he comes to be called is actually a Hollywood movie star -- Benedict Cumberbatch.
The casual use of the word "exorcism" really troubled me. "The giant was taken to a priest who held an exorcism, which helped the giant give up his addiction to marauding." (164). This isn't crucial to the story in any way, but kids who don't know what an exorcism is will come across some gruesome visual images or videos when they google it.
I found the ending of the novel too rushed and too predictable -- although the happy ending might satisfy readers who forgot what the original problem was. Overall all, I cannot recommend this book. Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers http://booklookbloggers.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”