Publication Date: April 21, 2016.
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press.
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, and LGBT.
Selling points: Magical creatures such as unicorns and mermaids, girls loving other girls and girls saving the day.
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.
Thank you, Julia Ember, for my review copy of Unicorn Tracks. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Unicorn Tracks by Julia Ember, I mean what do I even say? I’m absolutely in love with this piece of literature. It is a story rich in culture, magical creatures and girls. There is so much to appreciate and love about Unicorn Tracks, but most of all I love how it is a story about two girls who come from two very different places in the world with very different experiences. We have the main character Mnemba, a girl who has been through so much and who has so much depth. She is an amazing person with a huge heart. Then we have Kara Harving, a girl with a sparkling personality and wonder in her eyes.
“Miss Harving looked about my own age. Definitely younger than twenty, with fresh, blemish-free skin. She had a fuller-than-fashionable figure, with soft, doughy curves rather than the waifish slenderness I’d come to expect from ladies in Echalend. Her eyes were impossibly ice blue, and they looked into mine with an intensity and excitement in them that made me suddenly want to study my shoes.”
Unicorn Tracks is a story I fell in love with more and more for every page, it’s a short story and I love the way Julia Ember’s world is displayed. I can’t speak for if the culture is accurate because it is not mine to speak for but I can say that it was beautifully written. It is so vividly described, filled with magical creatures that all have their own history and origin.
“The horn itself held its shape, blackening without burning. But as we peered deeper into the fire, the lines of silver twisting around it unfurled. Starting from the wide base, a strip of pure silver filament unwound in a curled spiral. The glistening metal started to glow orange and red with heat, and suddenly, it exploded. The pieces hovered in the air around us, like stars suspended in midair. We watched them twinkle for a moment, before a low wind came and brushed heaven’s dust away.”
Kara and her father came to Nazwimbe to do research on Unicorns but what was supposed be a research adventure turned into a dangerous mission to save these creatures. The magical, kind and pure Unicorns were captured and tortured by a ruthless gang of poachers in order to use them and their supernatural power to build an illegal railway. However, with Kara’s immense love for the magical creatures and Mnemba’s growing feelings for Kara, they decided to do something about it and along the way were faced with numerous obstacles and dangers.
“I stared at the pebbles rolling under my toes, too afraid to look back up. Warmth rose up my neck. Try as I might to focus on the brown and gray stones, I couldn’t get the image of her form beneath the wet, clinging fabric out of my mind.”
However, as the lover of romance I am, the most compelling part of the story was seeing Mnemba and Kara develop deep feelings for each other. I love a good romantic story, and that is exactly what Unicorn Tracks is. A lot is standing in the way of Mnemba and Kara’s feelings for each other and their love but how they tackle their feelings, Mnemba’s tragic past and Kara’s betrothed waiting at home is a something you’ll be dying to read.
If you’re looking for a story filled with magical creatures, characters that are complex and girls loving girls then this is for you. This is a story that will make you wish there was more, more pages, more scenes between Kara and Mnemba and more of every magical being in the story.