Reviewer: Leslie Rewis
Unicorn Hunting by A.R. Hellbender was a very surprising read. Most of the YA fiction that I have read about queer characters tends to focus more on their coming out and what ensues because of it. If you are looking for a story with a queer character that has a plot line not revolving around coming out, Unicorn Hunting is a good place to start. This is the perfect book for a book lover of fantasy, action, and of course, non-straight crushes.
The protagonist, Caoilinn “Cal” Valderan, is a unicorn hunter. She is hunting in order to provide for her family. She is joined by her best friend, Sura; her crush, Adryan; and her would-be enemy, Delphina.
Cal and her friends soon find out that there is more to learn about unicorn hunting than what their instructors tell them. Without giving too much away, the unicorns reproduce rather strangely.
The story also revolves around a moral dilemma. Why do the girls have to kill the unicorns? Cal is faced with deciding whether killing unicorns is truly the right thing to do. On top of her new job, she also has to worry about Adryan falling for someone else and Delphina kicking her butt.
Essentially, Cal is making a decision to stand against everything she have been taught in society, and that is never easy.
Unicorn Hunting has enough surprising twists and turns to keep the best of readers busy. From one moment to another, Cal can either be slaying unicorns or questioning her feelings for Adryan or exploring new feelings altogether. Cal captured my heart within a few chapters. She is not a perfect character and I do not want her to be. She and all the other main characters of focus are human and easy to relate to.
Overall, Unicorn Hunting is a winner. For anyone out there wanting to see queer representation in books, this is a start in the right direction. Cal clearly has feelings for another girl, but her feelings are not the central arc of the story. Rather, her own moral journey and taking a stand have a higher rank in the story line. For those looking for a kiss or two, you won’t find that much in this story. However, this adds to the story line, rather than retracting from it.
If you are looking for an unconventional queer story, action scenes, and unicorns… well this is the only book I know of that does all of that – and more. My only complaint is that I was looking for more at the end. However, all the best stories leave the reader feeling just like that.
Leslie Rewis is an English major from Alabama. When she is not reading and working on school work, you can find her procrastinating on Tumblr at thetypicallytwisted.tumblr.com and on Twitter @lemur1993. She hopes to begin working on a doctorate in English after graduation and publish some queer stories.