After suffering a brutal attack, Mnemba goes to work with her cousin Tumelo at his safari business. Less than a year into her new life, she is hired to help the Harving father and daughter duo track unicorns for two weeks. Mnemba and Kara Harving soon discover a unicorn poaching ring, and set out to stop the people from using the unicorns to build a railroad.
Why this book?: I’ve had this book sitting on my shelves for a while, and I just needed to dig into it. F/F romance and unicorns are my jam, okay.
Rich, fantastical story
I at once knew that I was going to love this book. I knew because it was a F/F romance, yes, and I also knew because it was fantasy, with unicorns and a WOC, badass main character with a headstrong, beautiful companion.
The idea of taking all of these mythical creatures and putting them in a safari was a feat on its own, and one that was pulled off flawlessly. I believed the whole safari business, and wanted to know more and what each creature that was mentioned was. (And, there being a classification guide in the back really helped).
Mnemba and Kara were an amazing couple as well. While I was at first disappointed that they were more of an insta-love example if anything, I didn’t find it as cheesy as I would if it were a male and female, in another stereotypical YA love story. Each character was their own person as well, each unique in their own way. Mnemba had a heartbreaking backstory, one that filled me with passionate anger, and while she was cautious, she was also willing to take risks. Kara, blended perfectly with her, being reckless but extremely caring. Kara was made all the more better when she was described as being ‘heavier than fashionable’, giving her a more chubby description. And she was proud of that, and Ember didn’t go on and say how she struggled with the physical labor and exercise-because she was already fit.
Every character except two were POC. The main couple were both females, AND it was mentioned that it was normal and accepted to sleep with someone of the same gender in the Nazwimbe.
Unfortunately . . .
. . . all perfect things must come to an end.
I was extremely disappointed in seeing how short this novel was when I first got my hands on it. It almost felt as if the story was more or less restricted by a certain amount of pages, and couldn’t go over 200. At 180 pages, to me at least, this was an extremely thin and short book.
It almost felt like Ember wanted the book to be longer, that she wanted it to keep going, because for a while, it felt like there might be a book 2 in the making with how close to the end of the book I was getting without the poachers being caught and the problem being resolved. Quickly realizing what happened, I once more realized why a few people had criticisms of this book that had nothing to do with the settings or characters.
The ending was extremely rushed. Ember quickly wrapped up the poacher problem in less then 10 pages, and used the remaining pages to fill up with resolution between Kara and Mnemba, Mnemba and her father and her cousin, and Kara with her father. I found these few pages amusing and sweet, but I was still getting over feeling stiffed with the poacher’s ending.
Final Rating: ★★★★½☆
I greatly enjoyed Unicorn Tracks, and consider it a masterpiece all on it’s own. I can’t wait to read Julia Ember’s upcoming trilogy, Ashes of Gold, which is focused on a genderfluid character named Tashi. This book has only helped but to bolster my excitement, and I have to say that Julia Ember is probably one of my favorite people. Ever.
Would I Recommend?
If you’re looking for a unique, quick read fantasy featuring loads of diversity, yes. Go read it. You won’t be disappointed.
Published: April 21st, 2016
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Page Count: 180
Synopsis: via Goodreads
After a savage attack drives her from her home, sixteen-year-old Mnemba finds a place in her cousin Tumelo’s successful safari business, where she quickly excels as a guide. Surrounding herself with nature and the mystical animals inhabiting the savannah not only allows Mnemba’s tracking skills to shine, it helps her to hide from the terrible memories that haunt her.
Mnemba is employed to guide Mr. Harving and his daughter, Kara, through the wilderness as they study unicorns. The young women are drawn to each other, despite that fact that Kara is betrothed. During their research, they discover a conspiracy by a group of poachers to capture the Unicorns and exploit their supernatural strength to build a railway. Together, they must find a way to protect the creatures Kara adores while resisting the love they know they can never indulge.