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The Unicorn Thief

The Unicorn Thief

4.5 4
by R. R. Russell

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Danger lurks in the mist.

Twig and Ben are unicorn riders--guardians whose job it is to keep the last free unicorn herd safe. But a new danger is threatening the beautiful, mysterious creatures of Lonehorn Island. A thief from Terracornus has snuck onto the misty island and stolen Ben's loyal unicorn, Indy. There's only one path for Ben


Danger lurks in the mist.

Twig and Ben are unicorn riders--guardians whose job it is to keep the last free unicorn herd safe. But a new danger is threatening the beautiful, mysterious creatures of Lonehorn Island. A thief from Terracornus has snuck onto the misty island and stolen Ben's loyal unicorn, Indy. There's only one path for Ben and Twig--straight into the secret, shadowy heart of the island and through the passage to Terracornus.

But their rescue mission is unexpectedly complicated by a secret Ben has been hiding. A secret about the Queen of Terracornus who has enslaved all the unicorns of Ben's homeland. A secret that could save them all--or start a war.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Engaging and invigorating. Russell's writing carries the story with artful imagery that captures the reader's attention...This book will appeal to young readers who will begin to care about the lives of the human protagonists as well as the beautiful unicorns " - Library Media Connection

"Everything I loved about Wonder Light -the exciting, enchanting premise; sparkling storytelling; endearing characters; and fresh, pitch-perfect middle-grade voice- is seamlessly carried over to The Unicorn Thief and R.R. Russell has spun a spectacular sequel...the breathtaking and fierce unicorns simply shine with their almost tangible spirits." - Word Spelunking

"Twig is a character that will stay with you long after the story has ended. This is a great series that you don't want to miss.
" - To Read, or Not to Read

Kirkus Reviews
In the sequel to Wonder Light (2013), Twig and Ben continue to protect the last free unicorn herd, on Washington's Lonehorn Island.However, someone is mysteriously stealing unicorns, including the queen's, in the linked—via a doorway in a tree—world of Terracornus. Ben is unconcerned until his own beloved unicorn, Indy, disappears back to perilous, war-threatened Terracornus. Ben and Twig search for Indy, led by her young unicorn, Wonder. They're taken prisoner by the conniving queen of Westland, who plays a significant role in the plot but whose motivation remains murky. While she clearly doesn't intend to help them on their quest, crown prince Griffin unexpectedly comes to the aid of the pair, leading to a duel against the Boy King of Eastland in treacherous Death Swamp. Ben and Twig plan to cross the swamp in a wooden pirogue large enough to hold them and their unicorns—but, implausibly, light enough for the two of them to carry. Many ancillary characters remain underdeveloped. Action scenes are gripping, but worldbuilding is neither especially inventive nor completely persuasive, with back story inserted rather than integrated into the narrative. Bafflingly, too little of the magic of unicorns is depicted.But readers of the first will need to read this effort, and a third part seems sure to follow. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Product Details

Sourcebooks, Incorporated
Publication date:
Unicorns of the Mist
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The unicorn's nostrils flared at the thief in warning. Her breath came out in puffs of outrage, a visible vapor in the crisp night air. The mare's deadly horn glinted in the light of the lantern, but the thief stayed calm. He held out his hand, palm down. Then he took the tiny instrument from his pocket, held it to his lips, and began to play.

The flattened ears perked up and turned toward the sound. He'd practiced this song, refined it even more, he believed, than the great Darian ever had. His fingers danced over the holes as he blew, making music to lull the powerful Night Spark. To bring her completely under his control.

Darian, the great herder, was a man of many secrets, and this was one of them. The thief's throat tightened around his song, his heart caught in the clench of regret. Would Westland ever see Darian again? Would he? It was too easy to succumb to such dark thoughts anywhere on castle grounds, but especially here, in the royal stables.

The thief fitted Night Spark with a halter and led her out of the stall. He could hear the boots of the guards on the cobblestone outside, pacing in a steady, serious rhythm. Alert, strong. Nothing but the queen's best to guard her best.

Those guards would have a hard time explaining this. It was too bad, but it had to be done. The thief guided Night Spark through the secret opening in the back wall of the stable and into the shaft of darkness-Darian's passageway. Night Spark shuffled, eyelids drooping, as though she were sleepwalking. The thief slid the hidden panel shut and disappeared with the unicorn into the underground maze.


Twig bent to put the last plate in the dishwasher, and Ben scooped a blob of frosting off it. He licked his finger. Twig made a face. She picked up the box of detergent and showed Ben how to open it.

Ben sniffed the citrusy detergent scent-too hard. He sneezed, and his shaggy brown hair flew into his eyes.

"I still don't understand," Ben said between sneezes. "How does this stuff get the dishes clean?"

Twig grinned. "Watch." She poured the detergent into the dishwasher, then shut the door and turned the dial. Ben's eyes widened. He knelt down, ear to the dishwasher door.


Ben had been raised in another world-Terracornus, land of the unicorns. He'd spent much of his life here on Lonehorn Island, in the Earth Land, as he called it, but he'd never seen modern technology. Until the Murleys had come to Lonehorn Island and built Island Ranch-a home, pony ranch, and informal school for six troubled girls-the island had been abandoned.

"It's a machine with a motor, like the truck, only it runs on electricity. The same stuff that powers the lights in here."

"It pumps water over the dishes?"

"I guess so. It sprays them."

Ben listened for a moment, then threw open the door to the cupboard under the sink, an eager, searching look in his brown eyes. "The water comes from under here."

Twig turned on the faucet. "It's all connected."


He pulled on the dishwasher door, trying to open it, but the handle wasn't visible under the matching panel across the top of the machine, and he kept missing the spot.

Twig bit her lip. Should she ask him now? If not now, when? She couldn't wait any longer. In just a couple months, her dad would come and take her home, away from the island. "Ben?"


Twig pressed in and pulled out, unlatching and opening the machine a crack for him.

He peeked inside. "It stopped," he muttered with a frown.

"I was thinking, since I explained something to you, maybe you could explain something to me."

"Sure." He closed the door and started turning the dial every which way. Heavy wash, light wash, super soak, dry. "It dries them too?"

Twig let out an exasperated breath and cranked the dial to the off position. She stood in front of the machine, blocking his view.

Ben rose, brow creased. "What?"

Twig took the note from her pocket. The one Ben had dropped back in Terracornus, before they'd killed Dagger, the bloodthirsty unicorn who'd led the island's herd to attack the ranch. Dagger had been determined to kill Twig's unicorn, Wonder, whom she'd raised from birth.

Ben had tried to hide the note from her, but in his haste, he'd dropped it, and she'd slipped it into her pocket. She hadn't had time to read it until they were safe back at the ranch. And then there'd been so much going on-finding out that Ben was a long-lost relative of the Murleys; Twig's thirteenth birthday, which she almost hadn't lived to see; Skyping her dad, who was in the army and deployed overseas, and talking to him for the first time in a year. It was hard to believe that was just yesterday. It was hard to believe that after all they'd done, their work wasn't over. It was only just beginning.

Twig pressed the note against her jeans, flattening the crumpled paper. She held it out. "What's going on, Ben?"

"How'd you get that?" Ben snatched it out of her hands and stuffed it in his own pocket.

"You dropped it. What does it mean?"

Ben crossed his arms over the too-big T-shirt he'd borrowed from Mr. Murley. "It's nothing. Nothing that I can do anything about."

"Merrill said-"

"Merrill's wrong."

"Fine. Merrill's wrong. You can still tell me what he meant. What's going on in Terracornus?"

"The same old problems."

Twig put on her best "Merrill" voice-gruff yet warm-and quoted his note. "‘It's worse than I feared here. As soon as we've dealt with Dagger, you must come to Westland. For the sake of all unicorns, all Terracornus, you must appeal to the queen.' That's what it says. Sounds like more than the same old problems to me." Twig had the cryptic phrase, written by their friend and old herder, Merrill, memorized. A friend of Ben's father, Darian, Merrill had come to the island to help Twig learn to ride Wonder and to teach her to wield a short sword and handle a bow.

"But it is the same. There's always the threat of war in Terracornus. Merrill wants me to appeal to the queen to step down and put a democratic process back in place, so that Westland can be an example to all the other lands, instead of becoming more and more like them. He thinks Westland can be a reminder to all Terracornus of how things were meant to be."

"Can it?"

"It used to be." Abruptly, Ben's expression hardened. "But it doesn't matter. There's nothing I can do about it."

"Why does Merrill think you can then?"

"The queen knew my father well. He was the greatest herder in Westland, an important man. But she's changed. The herders have been disbanded. Everything's changed. I cannot influence the queen. Not now, not ever."

Meet the Author

R. R. Russell lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. She grew up traveling the world as an army brat and now travels the country as a coach with a non-profit judo club. She loves to read and draw, and like Twig, once spent a lot of time sketching unicorns. Visit her website RRRussellauthor.com.

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Unicorn Thief 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
TheIndigoQuill More than 1 year ago
See full review @ The Indigo Quill . blogspot . com Special thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.      Lonehorn Island is home to our two protagonists, Ben and Twig (I'm kind of digging this name). In the first novel, we adventured with them to save the unicorn race from danger. In this next installment, there is a thief who steals Ben's loyal unicorn companion, Indy. The duo must venture into the unknown of the island to save him. The plot thickens as Ben is holding a deep, dark secret regarding the Queen of Terracornus that could determine the fate of everyone. In terms of middle-grade books, this is a fabulous choice for the young library, especially one that is lacking in books about unicorns. You will find several elements that will encourage even the reluctant reader to explore this new land and consume the story to their heart's content. It moves at just the right pace that will keep their attention. I think young readers who enjoy light fantasy will enjoy this series. I didn't give this book 3 stars because it was bad. Honestly, it just wasn't to my taste. I'm sure children will enjoy it and find it interesting, but this was not a favorite of mine. For the most part, it was well written. The content was at times overly-detailed and a little too simple. I did enjoy the story itself and I'm sure I'll introduce this book to my kids one day. If your child loves fantasy, adventure, and of course, unicorns, then The Unicorn Thief is a great choice. As for adults who enjoy children's literature, you may not like this as much as others. But really, it all comes down to personal opinion, so by all means, I urge you to see for yourself. Honorable mentions go to the creators of the cover, Bert Farnslow and Ian Schoenherr. The illustration and design is soft and beautiful. Honestly, the cover illustrations are what drew me to this book!
book4children More than 1 year ago
At first I wasn't sure I was going to like this book as much as the first one, but the further I got into the story, the more I fell in love with it. This is the second book in the Wonder Light series. In it, Twig and Ben venture into Terracornus (land of the unicorns) and the troubles in that kingdom. As with the first book, I loved the friendships that Twig developed. She showed her steadfast loyalty to the people and unicorns she loved. That doesn't mean that she didn't get into trouble—because she did—but she stood by Ben and his cause while she tried to do what was right. She continued on her path of healing and self discovery as she helped Ben through his own struggles, both internal and external. R.R. Russell's unicorns make for an exciting adventure. They are intelligent, spirited, and dangerous. They form strong connections with their riders, but are never fully tame. They can change faster than the weather. I really love this take on the mythical beast. One of the things I liked about this book was that the author introduced new settings and characters without letting go of the original ones. I still got to spend time with the Murleys and the ranch girls that I grew to love in the first book as well as go on a new adventure, meet some new characters, and solve a new problem. Content: Some suspense and violence, but I consider it a clean book. It's not disturbing or dark, but it is suspenseful. Kids will be sitting on the edge of their seats! Source: I received a digital galley of this book for the blog tour which did not affect my review in any way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LeandraWallace More than 1 year ago
A great MG, and one that fans of unicorns will absolutely love! Even if you aren't particularly all about unicorns(and what's wrong w/you then!) the friendship and adventure make it everyone's sort of book. Plus, the unicorns aren't just all sparkles and rainbows- they've got a bit of an edge to them, which is certainly intriguing.