Unassuming Skandar Smith yearns to be bonded with a unicorn and must grow into the role he’ll play in an epic battle with evil.
Skandar’s dad has told him that his deceased mum promised him a unicorn. Skandar, eager to escape bullies at school and his grieving father at home, hopes this promise will come true: Now 13, he is eligible to take the Hatchery exam, the first step in determining who will be paired with a unicorn. But he’s inexplicably denied entry to the test. The intrigue deepens when a woman shows up to deliver him covertly to the Hatchery so he can try to open the door on the Island behind which are the unicorn eggs. She warns Skandar about the Weaver, an evil entity. Tension mounts as Skandar tries to determine the Weaver’s plan; he’s disconcerted when the first children who see his unicorn hatchling, Scoundrel, spot the mark of the forbidden, deadly spirit element—which is wielded by the Weaver. In fact, none of the unicorns in this tale are for the fainthearted. Even bonded, somewhat controlled unicorns are bloodthirsty. Wild, unbonded unicorns are immortal in death—murderous, rotting, and forever dying. It is these terrifying details, plus a terrible betrayal, that keep readers on knife’s edge even as Skandar’s bond with his unicorn deepens and his friendship with other riders solidifies—with them, Skandar brings about change. Skandar reads as White; the supporting cast includes diverse skin tones.
Unexpected, suspenseful, and heartwarming.(maps) (Fantasy. 9-12)