Unicorns but these aren’t the fluffy sweethearts of bedtimes stories. They are lethal killers and they can only be stopped by the virgin descendants of Alexander the Great.
What I thought
It’s by Diana Peterfreund.
It’s got a great premise – killer unicorns.
It’s got a kick ass, Buffyesque heroine.
It’s got a half Italian love interest.
It’s set in the eternal city.
There was really no way I wasn’t going to like this book but I wasn’t prepared for how much I would love it. It could just have been a fun fantasy adventure story, but Diana did so much more with it. Rampant blew me away.
The plot starts with a goring, as Astrid encounters a Unicorn for the first time and discovers the stories her mother told her are all true. The resultant mayhem leads to her being whisked away to Rome. Here she meets her fellow hunters in training, the mysterious benefactor funding the hunting, a hot Italian boy and a unicorn called Bonegrinder (possibly my favourite animal in a book ever).
The world building is so seamless I had absolutely no problem believing that there could indeed be Unicorns in the world and killer ones at that. Unicorn legend is woven into the action, so you get a sense of the historic battle between the Unicorns and the Hunters without being thrown out of the story
Although the plot of Rampant is intriguing and fast paced what really lifts the book to my favourites shelf is narrator, heroine, and reluctant unicorn hunter, Astrid. She’s such a great character, strong, smart and funny but also vulnerable and confused. I loved her emotional growth and her struggle to reconcile her hunter abilities with the life she wants. And, of course, I loved her romance with Giovanni, Diana writes such good boys and such good kissing scenes.
There is a lot going on in Rampant. As well as the epic fight between hunters and Unicorns, the novel touches on abstinence, choice, female roles in society now and throughout history, obligation, personal responsibility and the question of how we treat dangerous but endangered animals. It’s definitely the kind of novel that needs re-reading but I have no problem with doing that.