Tuesday 13 December 2011

Unicorn Riders Book 4 : Ellabeth’s Test

Unicorn Riders Book 4 : Ellabeth’s Test by Aleesah Darlison, illustrated by Jill Brailsford (Walker Books)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 978-1-921720-00-0
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

When Willow breaks her leg, Ellabeth volunteers to be lead rider in her place. The team’s latest mission is to acquire magical diamond scales from a specific Dakkar Serpent, needed to make Princess Serafina’s armour for her initiation ceremony. The ceremony will be followed by a Council of Kingdoms meeting that the princess will attend in an effort to avoid a war. The Unicorn Riders must travel dangerous territory and return in time for the armour to be made before the meeting.

Though Ellabeth is at first adamant she should take the leadership role ahead of any other rider, she soon learns that being a leader isn’t simply about bossing people around. It means lots of decision making. It’s frightening when the black Mists of Shanahan engulf the riders, making it impossible to keep track of their path. Ellabeth becomes plagued by self-doubt and battles self-pride before she finds it within herself to ask for help.

After the team makes it to the serpent’s home, they must face another obstable; convincing the serpent to give the scales freely. Their magic will die if taken without permission. Ellabeth, tired and snappy, does not treat the serpent with the respect she deserves. The serpent decides she “can not entrust the Dakkar Diamonds to one who is not respectful.” Fortunately, Ellabeth is placed in a position where her actions enable her to redeem herself.

Besides a map that allows readers to follow the riders’ journey through Avamay, there are illustrations that capture scenes within new territory and characters no-one has met before. As well as reading about the fantasy world Darlison has created, girls aged eight and up will be able to visually absorb it and its people.

Like others in the series, this story is magical and uplifting. Action and adventure is high on the list, with risks and dangers that are sure to engage readers. Moving forward at a lively pace, while also exploring possible failure as Ellabeth makes her way through this test, guarantees the attention of young readers is held.

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