Ahoy there me mateys! A combination of Jane Yolen and unicorns with a title like that! How could I resist. And what an odd little tale it was.
Unicorns in this are magical wild tricky animals that like golden apples. The monks need the golden apples to make cider to sell to repair the abbey. But the unicorns are winning! Nothing the monks do seems to work. Even heroes are having problems. Then young James, the duke’s son, is sent to the abbey to study. Might he have the answer?
I loved the monastery and James and the monks. The world Yolen portrays is fun with elements of silliness. The character of James and the atmosphere at the abbey are what I loved about the book. The unicorns almost seem like an afterthought in a good way. Which is crazy but awesome.
This short novel (192 pages) is supposedly for middle grade readers. Bah! I loved it and the clever twists on classic fairy tale themes. Plus is has beautiful illustrations. Lots of reviews seem to recommend it for boys only! Bah! Girls can and certainly should read this one too. James’ older sister is awesome.
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
Young James, the duke’s son, asks too many questions. At least that’s what everyone at Callendar Castle thinks after all but the last of James’ tutors quits and his uncle ships him off to be educated at Cranford Abbey. Unfortunately, the once-beautiful abbey has problems of its own, including cracked walls, a leaking roof, and shattered windows. Not to mention the pesky herd of unicorns that continue to enter the abby’s orchards and claim them as their own.
The only hope to save the abbey is money raised by Abbot Aelian’s golden apple cider. But that means getting rid of the orchard’s unwelcome visitors. And, as everyone knows, unicorns have very sharp horns. Monks do not.
James has an idea that could help defeat these hungry beasts, but first he must find someone to listen to him. For once, he might be the only one asking the right questions. And the only one who knows the perfect hero for the job.
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