By Author / Illustrator
Simon & Schuster Ltd
Soar into a breathtaking world of heroes and unicorns as you've never seen them before, in this first book in the hotly anticipated fantasy adventure series for children age 9+, and fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and Amari and the Night Brothers.
13-year-old Skandar Smith has only ever wanted to be a unicorn rider. To be one of the lucky few selected to hatch a unicorn. To bond with it for life; to train together and race for glory; to be a hero. But just as Skandar's dream is about to come true, things start to take a more dangerous turn than he could ever have imagined. A dark and twisted enemy has stolen the Island's most powerful unicorn - and as the threat grows ever closer, Skandar discovers a secret that could blow apart his world forever...
Get ready for unlikely HEROES, elemental MAGIC, sky battles, ancient secrets, nail-biting races and FEROCIOUS UNICORNS, in this EPIC ADVENTURE series that will have your heart soaring.
Praise for Skandar and the Unicorn Thief: 'My book of the year. Not since Harry Potter have I felt this excited about a series. Readers are sure to be clamouring for the next book. You'll never look at unicorns the same way again, nor will you want to!' - Dominique Valente, author of the Starfell series. 'Never have unicorns been so ferocious, fearsome and thrilling! A fantastically gripping read!' - Laura Ellen Anderson, author of Amelia Fang and Rainbow Grey.
If you thought unicorns are fluffy and glittery..... think again! At least, not in Skandar's world, here they are vicious and terrifying beasts. Despite their ferocious reputation, Skandar yearns to be a unicorn rider, to bond with his beast and seek glory together. As his dream is about to come true, things take a dangerous twist; his island's most powerful unicorn has been stolen. Cometh the hour, cometh the unicorn rider and Skandar sets off on a rescue mission, uncovering a dangerous secret.
The first in a planned series, Skandar And The Unicorn Thief is so much more than the traditional good v evil, with the chosen one destined to save the world because he's special or unique. Rather, the superpower is in friendships and the power of connections. This is a thrilling adventure which will appeal to anyone who loves a cracking good story.
400 pages / Reviewed by Kay, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+
Skandar and the Unicorn Thief is a stunning, highly dramatic and exciting story that takes a totally new look at unicorns and every other story I've ever read about with them. My review copy arrived with an unexpected seal around it that I had to break open to discover which 'element' I was destined to be allied to. With that and the powerful, tense and startling Prologue with its final line "Because unicorns don't belong in fairy tales; they belong in nightmares", I was completely captivated and hooked.
13-year-old Skandar lives on the Mainland but is desperate to become a Unicorn Rider (a role deeply coveted and only possible if you pass the crucial Hatching Exam) and to find that his future lies in a unicorn egg just waiting to bond to him and one of the four elements: fire, water, earth or air. He longs to escape from feeling like a lonely outsider; picked on and isolated in school and coping with a depressed father with little money. Unicorn Riders and the annual Chaos Cup race are admired and revered on both the Mainland and on the Island, where unicorns are bonded to one of the elements and to a single rider in a deeply magical ceremony that twins the unicorn and rider together always.
The author creates (so intricately and visually, cinematically amazing) an entire new world for the reader. As this new life unfolds for Skandar, we see it through his eyes; shocked, delighted, in awe and disbelief but also with nervousness and fear. The sense of wonder, as Skandar discovers the utter uniqueness of the unicorn school with its vast treehouses and community, really shines through the story. Skandar quickly realizes both the intense joy of the total entwinement with a unicorn and also the brutal truth about the temperament and character of these magnificent beasts. This author doesn't coat her unicorns in any sparkle or glitter; these are fierce, vicious, blood thirsty and headstrong creatures. They both enchant and terrify readers and riders alike.
Skandar and the Unicorn Thief follows Skandar's first year of school. We find he has a secret to keep that, if discovered, would see him and his unicorn, Scoundrel's Luck, cast out and in danger. He finds friendship against these odds with his fellow riders and learns of the need to stop the malicious, feared and dangerous figure of the Weaver. He faces his own past and losses and must take control of his future if he is to survive the year.
There is SO much I want to say about this brilliant book but I don't want to give away any the gasps of shock and surprise that it gave me throughout. There are epic explosive sky battles, perilous training tasks and also humour and heart at the centre of all the chaos and intensity, with the relationships of the young riders, to each other and to their bonded, beloved unicorns, so emotionally explored and laid bare.
Skandar and the Unicorn Thief was a total joy to read; a whole world of deep magic and acts of courage, sacrifice and loyalty . An epic quest journey that I hope will continue for much, much longer.
400 pages / Reviewed by Jennifer Caddick, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+