Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review: Rampant- Diana Peterfreund

The sparkly, innocent creatures of lore are a myth. Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. And they can only be killed by virgin descendants of Alexander the Great. Fortunately, unicorns have been extinct for a hundred and fifty years. Or not. Astrid Llewelyn has always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend in the woods -- thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to prom -- Astrid learns that unicorns are real and dangerous, and she has a family legacy to uphold. Her mother packs her off to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries. However, at the cloisters, all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to -- perhaps most dangerously of all -- her growing attraction to a handsome art student... and a relationship that could jeopardize everything.

One of the most original urban fantasy novels I've read. Diana Peterfreund swaps vampires for killer unicorns in this epic tale starring Astrid Llewellyn, a sixteen year old who always thought that her mother's stories about her unicorn hunting ancestors were just a sign of eccentricity.

Soon after she witnesses a unicorn attacking her boyfriend, she's shipped off to Italy to train as a unicorn hunter. It's not all fun and games, and there's one important caveat; Astrid's unicorn slaying powers are tied to her virginity. Cue a complicated relationship with cute art student Giovanni, not that Astrid needs any more problems!

The world building in this was phenomenal. Diana Peterfreund didn't just think up the idea of unicorns being man-eaters rather than happy sparkly creatures; she created a whole new set of mythology and even different unicorn species, from the tiny, cute, but nonetheless deadly Zhi to the enormous Karkadann.

It's not just the concept that makes this a great read; it's filled with witty prose and great characters, from Astrid's nutjob mother Lilith to unicorn-hating Cory, who regularly throws their fast-healing pet Zhi, Bonegrinder, out the window. Then there's Astrid herself, who transforms from a disbelieving girl to a fully-fledged huntress, with the archery skills to show for it.

Rampant is followed by Ascendant, which I just read and also adored; review coming soon!


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