The Hunt of the Unicorn

The Hunt of the Unicorn

4.5 9
by C. C. Humphreys

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Elayne thinks the old family story that one of her ancestors stepped through a tapestry into a world of mythical beasts makes a great fireside tale. But she lives in the real world. In New York City. And she's outgrown that kind of fantasy.

Until she finds herself in front of a unicorn tapestry at the Cloisters museum and sees her initials woven into the


Elayne thinks the old family story that one of her ancestors stepped through a tapestry into a world of mythical beasts makes a great fireside tale. But she lives in the real world. In New York City. And she's outgrown that kind of fantasy.

Until she finds herself in front of a unicorn tapestry at the Cloisters museum and sees her initials woven into the fabric. And hears a unicorn calling to her. And slips and falls—into that other world.

Suddenly the line between fantasy and reality isn't so clear. But the danger is real enough. Almost before she can think, Elayne is attacked by a ferocious beast, rescued by a unicorn, and taken prisoner by a tyrant king. Each of them seems to have an idea about her—that she's a hero, a villain, dinner!

But Elayne has a few ideas of her own. She wants to overthrow the king; she wants to tame the unicorn. She wants to go home! And she's willing to become both hero and villain to do it.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hand this to readers who like their heroines sassy, and their settings vividly imagined."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Kirkus Reviews
Unicorns and adolescent girls, generally considered a perfect pairing, are here filtered through what seems to be an adolescent male concept of what teen girls might like (unicorns, handsome boys, plus some gory bits). Pages of awkward exposition, via the hackneyed device of an ancestor's journal, launch a lackluster story. Once upon a time, Elayne's ancestor journeyed to and escaped from Goloth, Land of the Fabulous Beast; now, the modern NYC teen, whose cancer-ridden father has just had another setback, has been called by a unicorn in need to fulfill said ancestor's promise. Once in Goloth, Elayne spends her time imprisoned and/or responding inanely to hair-raising exploits (rescued from a dungeon, lifted wet and half-frozen to a boat, she worries about the fishy smell of the cloth she dries herself with). She also comes across as a bit dim: Despite the frequent mentions of unicorn horn as a cure for illness, she takes several hundred pages to realize it could save her father. Indeed, there is a disturbing thread of misogyny throughout; Elayne, Princess Amaryllis (whiny and overly fond of chocolate) and even female unicorn Heartsease all spend most of their time imprisoned and answering to the men (there are no other women), and while Elayne eventually foments revolution and overturns the evil ruler, she's mostly figurehead and aid to heroic unicorn Moonspill. Don't bother. (author's note) (Fantasy. 12-14)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt



Thunderstorms rumble nearer, the air charged with static, as sticky-hot as only a New Orleans night can be. Arcana knows that the werewolf is going to come. She prays that all the precautions she's taken are not in vain. Prays that he's brought the goal of her quest—


She jumped. She was not in an old mansion in Louisiana, but in her bedroom in New York. And no muscle-bound werewolf stood in her doorway. Her dad did, skinny as a stick.

"Sorry," said her father. "Did I interrupt something?"

"Uh, reading, homework, you know."

"Well, if you're busy . . ." With a sigh, he pushed himself off the doorframe. She could see the effort it took.

"You OK?"

He reached out a hand to steady himself. "Fine. I was reading . . . this." He held up a book. "Fell asleep. Began to have the strangest dream."

"What about?"

He smiled. "You."

He'd stepped back into the hall. The light glinted on his gone-bald head. Elayne didn't know when she'd grow used to that. All his thick black hair gone.

She leapt up. He didn't look any better the closer she got. In fact . . . She gripped his arm. "Do you need something?"

"No, I . . ." He smiled again. "Yes. I wanted to read you this." He raised the book. "But I'm kind of tired. So I thought you might read it to me?"

It was late, close to eleven. Her dad was usually long asleep by now, zonked on his meds. But he was going into the hospital in the morning. A few days, they'd said. But they'd said that before.

"Sure," she said. "Love to."

He led her back to the living room and sank onto the sofa while she made cocoa. After plopping baby marshmallows into the two mugs, she joined him, snuggling deep into the old leather. He pulled a blanket over the two of them. It was warm in the loft, but beyond the double-glazed windows, snowflakes fell. A long way from Louisiana, she thought, and shivered. An ambulance's siren, heading away from St. Vincent's, made her shiver again.

"So, what's the book?" she asked.

"Ah!" He handed her an old hardback, small, a little bigger than her hand, the cover emerald green, fading, the edges frayed. "The Maid and the Unicorn," she read out loud.

"Remember it?"

"Should I?"

"I read it to you when you were about, uh, eight, I think."

"Really?" She shook her head. "It's not a fantasy story, is it? You know I'm not into fantasy."

"The shelves in your bedroom tell a different story."

"Dad," she said patiently, "I'm fifteen now—"

"So what about all these vampires and werewolves, eh?"

"That's not fantasy, that's . . ." She was about to say "romance," but romance was something she really didn't want to discuss with her father. So she settled for, ". . . different."

He smiled. "I see. Well, this is different too. Give it a chance."

She gulped some cocoa, put the mug down, opened the book, and read: " 'The Incredible yet Nonetheless True Tale of Alice-Elayne Robochon; Her Adventures in Goloth, Land of the Fabulous Beast; and What Happened Next.' " She looked up. "Alice-Elayne?"

"That's your name. Your full name."

"Duh, I do know. I try to forget the 'Alice' part. It's just so 'Wonderlandy.' " She read again. " 'Robochon'?"

"An old family name."

"So this 'Alice-Elayne' was, like, an ancestor?"

"Not 'like.' 'Was.' Was an ancestor." He pointed. "There's a family tree in the back. But finish reading the introduction first."

She read, " 'And What Happened Next . . . ,' uh, 'Her story, passed down through Generations of the Family by Mouth and translated here, in the year of Our Lord 1863, for the first time in Print, by Alice-Elayne Corbeau, her descendant.' " She looked up. "Another Alice-Elayne?"

He nodded. "Now look at the family tree. It's attached at the back. Careful! It's fragile."

Gently she unfolded a sheet of waxy old paper. At the top were two letters, A and E, except the E was reversed. They were done in gold ink and linked by a tasseled cord. The paper's folds had made black lines down its middle. Between them, in beautiful old-style handwriting, was penned a list of names, descending from . . .

" 'Alice-Elayne Robochon,' " Elayne read. "So she's the one who gets to go to Beast World, right?" Her father nodded. She followed the names down and whistled. "All the women are named Alice-Elayne." She tapped the gold letters at the top. "Their last names change with the men they married, but . . ." She scanned. "Yep. Everyone down to— Hey! That's me!"

"Yes. I added that."

"Nice lettering."

"Thanks." He leaned over and pointed. "There's Gramma Elly who was Alice-Elayne too. Her mother, and her mother, the same, And there is Alice-Elayne Corbeau. The woman who did the translating and writing down."


"Yes. The original Alice-Elayne Robochon was French. I think this Corbeau ancestor, the writer and translator, was the first one in America."

"So the daughters always get saddled with the name, huh?"

"Yes." Her father suddenly looked serious. "It is one of the reasons I wanted you to read this book tonight. To learn the tradition. Who knows what will happen in the hospital? I might not be able to—" He broke off.

She seized his hand. "It's just more tests, Dad. A new drug therapy, maybe? A few days, then home for the holidays. You're going to be fine."

Meet the Author

C. C. HUMPHREYS is an actor-turned-playwright-turned-novelist whose love of history and drama comes out in dashing adventure novels. His books for young adults include the Runestone Saga, and for adults, his latest is Vlad: The Last Confession.

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Hunt of the Unicorn 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Ladystorm More than 1 year ago
I was a little worried when I first started to read this because I had just read a book called Warped that sounded a lot like The Hunt of the Unicorn. I was a little worried they were going to be a lot alike but I actually liked this book better. Alice Elayne or AE (the initials that the weaver put on all this tapestries) was the name of all the girls born into the weavers family. Elayne is just a normal high school girl who doesn't believe in fairy tales or anything like that, and she doesn't believe in Unicorns. Her father is dieing of cancer and he decides its time to tell her about her heritage, and about the weavers and the Unicorn. To her it all sounds like a fairy tale, but she soon finds out its not a fairy tale at all. When she accidentally falls into a tapestry at a museum she falls through the doorway to Goloth, sort of a parallel world. In this world there is a evil king and Elayne finds out that her name is forbidden in the land of Goloth because of the famous tapestry that her ancestor weaved depicting a young woman killing the king. She is believed to be this prophesied girl. There is also this one Unicorn who is also in the prophesy and the king is always trying to kill it. This unicorn brought her ancestor, the weaver to his world a long time ago. He has healing powers and Elayne thinks that maybe he could help heal her father back home, if she can ever figure out how to get back home and away from the new young King. I liked Elayne, though sometimes I though she was a little weak. I can understand her attitude towards being in this new world, but sometimes it was like get over it. She turns out okay in the end once she gets the 'oh how do I get back home' out of her system. Over all I thought it was a fairly face paced story though there was a couple of times I thought it sort of dragged on, but then I am not one for a lot of details and descriptions. (I call it fillers and I tend to skip over it, then miss something important..LOL) I am not a huge fan of Unicorn book, but over all I enjoyed it. I would recommend it to someone who likes Unicorn books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Asom cover and asom book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So should i read the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good well written fun
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
terilhack More than 1 year ago
HoU is the story of a history of specifically named ladies and a debt of promises. HoU begins in the land of the Fabulous Beast. We come into a world that has been torn asunder when a rift in the fabric of the world, a portal left unfolded, let's in a diabolical hunter and a grand weaver. Here their intentions cross into a world filled with fantastical creatures and an agrarian society that recently has lived a simple midevil existence. Nothing will ever been the same again. A story develops of a weaver who wanted to change the rapid abuse of the world by the hands if the Hunter, the Leo, and his destruction of the fantasical beasts, and his tyrany as the King. A greatly removed ancestor's promise brings a unicorn into the modern age to bring home a young girl to the land of the Fantasical Beast. The unicorn is almost the last keeping the land alive and it comes to tell a young girl that she is the one who can change history, only she can keep a long ago promise to end the reign of the Leo, and keep a pure world for our great imagined creatures to live alongside humans in peace. With trees and tapestrys as gateways between the worlds and life threatening decisions, HoU has amazing characters and a thrilling plot that brigs a new voice out in the YA, that reads well for a variety of ages. I enjoyed the plot and the developments, and the backstory was intriguing and worked well blended into the present day plot that was happening.
camie12345 More than 1 year ago
does it have romance?