Author: Julia Ember
Page Count: 180
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, F/F romance, Adventurous!
Source: Directly from the author!
Rating: 3.5 Stars!
Synopsis: After a savage attack drives her from her home, sixteen-year-old Mnemba finds a place in her cousin Tumelo’s successful safari business, where she quickly excels as a guide. Surrounding herself with nature and the mystical animals inhabiting the savannah not only allows Mnemba’s tracking skills to shine, it helps her to hide from the terrible memories that haunt her.
Mnemba is employed to guide Mr. Harving and his daughter, Kara, through the wilderness as they study unicorns. The young women are drawn to each other, despite that fact that Kara is betrothed. During their research, they discover a conspiracy by a group of poachers to capture the Unicorns and exploit their supernatural strength to build a railway. Together, they must find a way to protect the creatures Kara adores while resisting the love they know they can never indulge.
"What's bound in blood cannot be undone."
This book is a wholly original, lovely piece of work! It's super short allowing for a very quick read! (Seriously, the book is only 180 pages making it definitely worth it!)
That is my main problem with the book: The length. It is entirely too short, and I feel like given another 50-100 pages could have allowed Ember to fully flesh out these otherwise well-developed characters and maybe give us a little more look into the world we were in.
The book takes place is an African country named Nazwimbe, and has strong fantasy elements but mainly, the magical creatures. From manticores to chimeras, to the most glorious unicorn. This book is chock full of mentions of magical creatures as well as actually seeing them on the page. I really enjoyed that animals were an integral part of the book because it really brought something out that I think would of been lacking if this had only been a typical YA f/f fantasy. (Not that this genre is a typical thing.) The animals really set this apart.
I really enjoyed the diversity. Especially because Kara is described as fat multiple times and she embraces that fact. I'm always for body positivity and this book gives a little glimpse into that which I find wholeheartedly important. I also really enjoyed the chemistry between all of the characters. The dynamics felt real, and I appreciate that. Something really important to note is that although the relationship between Kara and Mnemba seemed really instalove-y (and it was...) it still felt real. And I generally don't think any form of instalove worked... it worked in this book.
I loved the romance between Kara and Mnemba because they loved each other AND each other's faults. Not despite. And I find that so important.
"Love grows over time. It's slow. It develops."
Plotwise, I wanted more. But this goes back to the length issue. There is so much more that could have been done if this book was longer. More animals, more relationship development, even more of an explanation of the cultural differences between the different countries. I think the Pits could have been shown even more. The power that this held over Mnemba could have been explored more and packed a heavier punch than it already did.
The plot we were given though, was clean and well paced. I liked the development of Kara and Mnemba from almost business partners to friends and so on and so forth. Even though it was quick, it felt natural and I liked that. I liked Kara's spunkiness, and her wish to help others. Her passion that was shown so many times throughout the novel really made me care for her. There are a few things that seemed a little to easy for the circumstances, but I am okay with it.
I loved the little baby unicorn foal. ADORABLE. I wanted more, but I mean I liked what I got.
Overall, I liked this novel a lot. I just wanted more. I wouldn't change much of what did happen in the novel... just add some more in. And honestly, cannot complain for what we were given because it's a culturally diverse fantasy novel set in non-western culture. And that alone made it special. Enter in easy-to-follow good writing, and you have a compelling and almost addicting novel.