The YA adventures of the girl with the unicorn horn sticking out of her head continue (Acorna’s World, 2000, etc.), as the telepathic Acorna, her traumatized “life-mate” Aari, and others on two and four legs to heal their shattered homeworld. Having vanquished those nasty Khleevi bugs and put Aari on the road to recovery (a tiny, inch-long horn is growing out of his forehead), the Linyaari, the psychic humanoid crossbreed with unicorns, return to Planet Vhiliinyar and find an ecological disaster of fetid swamps, polluted streams and carnivorous plants that nearly devour the feisty cat Roadkill. The Linyaari are considering a big loan from the wealthy, somewhat untrustworthy Hafiz Harakamian in order to terraform their world back to what it was before the Khleevi ruined it. While taking preliminary surveys, a handful of Linyaari, including Aari, vanish mysteriously. Acorna and friends consult their four-legged unicorn ancestors, who show them fragile hand- (hoof?-) written records, and drop enigmatic hints that imply that these disappearances might have to do with a hidden cave carved out by the Ancestor Friends, who originally rescued the unicorns from Earth and brought them to Vhiliinyar. With the help of the loquacious android Mac (who has outfitted himself with a series of mechanical horns), Acorna discover the cave, which is filled with old carvings and lined with a substance that dampens communication gear. One of the missing Linyaari turns up, but before Acorna can find out more about what happened, she and her explorers are menaced by a pair of bear-like “hairy monsters.” The cave leads to an ancient buried city that predictably reveals secrets about the Linyaari past, adds an ethical complication to the terraforming question, and includes additional plot threads for the next installment.
Dialogue-soggy, overcute, featherweight YA space-opera, a mix of light fantasy with coming-of-age themes about social responsibility and solemn respect for elders.