Saturday 7 January 2012

Unicorn Riders Book 3 : Krystal’s Choice

Unicorn Riders Book 3 : Krystal’s Choice by Aleesah Darlison, illustrated by Jill Brailsford (Walker Books)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 978-1-921529-99-3
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

The third in this series holds excellent lessons on being wary of one who offers something special to lure you away from what is truly important and who, despite the facade, does not have your best interests at heart and may even be a danger. It shows how one can be duped and that it is important to listen to the voice inside that warns you when things do not feel right. A real strength of it is how it uses a combination of wonder and delight alongside that of menace and drama, all without a trace of didacticism.

The story opens with the Unicorn Riders helping the poor folk of Stillmet rebuild after floods. Krystal, having left a life of luxury on her parent’s estate when chosen as a Rider, doesn’t delight in drab jobs. She is chastised for shirking duty while using her Unicorn, its magic, and her riding skills to entertain Stillmet’s people. While being a rider is the highest honour one can be given, she feels life as an entertainer would be far more her thing. She is relieved when Queen Heart sends the Riders on a mission to track down and rescue children who have been disappearing from Miramar.

Once in Miramar Krystal meets Dezoban, who leads a troupe of young travelling performers. Krystal does not realise they are stolen children. Her inner voice queries whether she should take up his invitation to see his unusual animal collection but vanity and desire to be special is easily won over. Seekng her dream, she sneaks away from the others. When Dezoban gifts her a peacock charm, marking her as one of his entertainers, she keeps it secret. It takes hold of her thoughts, making convincing suggestions.

Her underlying wish sees her fall under the charm’s spell and she convinces herself it will do no harm to follow its suggestions. It is when she leads the Unicorns and their riders to their capture that Dezoban reveals he had her do this so he could steal the unicorns for the magic held in their horns. He traps the riders and a great battle ensues in which Krystal’s love for her friends and her true, good self sees her use all her strength to release herself from the charm’s spell and rescue the others, including the stolen children.

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