Publisher: Harper Teen
# Pages: 402
Copy provided by: bought
Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years. Or not. Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed 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 the 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 ... an attraction that could jeopardize everything.
Now, I'm a big time dragon lover - in any shape or size. I love dragons. Unicorns - not so much! They are always gentle, timid, virgin loving, boring - no excitement. so when I read about Diana Peterfreund's book 'Rampant', featuring "killer unicorns", I thought hmmmm, let's give this a try. And boy, are these unicorns killers! Nasty, smelly, gigantic, ugly, mind-reading - still virgin loving - beasts, that have major bad tempers and are very hard to kill. I loved them! What a wonderfully fresh idea!
Astrid, our main protagonist is descended from a major butt-kicking unicorn killer - Clothilde - and according to Astrid's mother, that is what she was born to do - kill unicorns. Astrid isn't so sure about this and her indecision and resentment of this fact are a large part of the story.
'I pointed at the figure of Clothilde behind us. "She trained all her life, and she was still killed by the karkadann. Unicorn hunters die, Phil. This isn't a game. You can make all the pacts you want so that we can go on dates, go to college, leave after however many years in service, bit it doesn't change the fact that my life is in danger here. I don't want this. I'm not a warrior." '
There is a love interest in the story - Giovanni - he's a major art geek, but hunky too, and I was quite drawn to him, altho' the love story is not up front and central, which I quite liked. I have to point out that there are some quite violent episodes in the story and if you are not a fan of cruelty, there are a few spots that might upset you. But most of the parts with Bonegrinder - the 'pet' unicorn at the cloisters - are like comic relief.
'Bonegrinder squirmed as Phil started tugging on a particularly stubborn knot. The zhi nipped at Phil's findertips, and she swatted the unicorn's muzzle. "No bite!" Bonegrinder's limpid blue eyes were filled with contrition and adoration, and Phil melted. "Monster," she said with a chuckle. "
Right around the 3/4 mark there is a rather nice twist to the story that I was not expecting at all and it kept me turning pages at a furious rate. All in all the book ended up fairly satisfactorily and I was quite happy there was no cliffhanger. It could have stayed as a stand-alone, but the sequel, 'Ascendent' was in fact released at the end of September this year. So now I'm going to have to go and find a copy and continue the story. What fun!