Magical Adventures in New Zealand
Lily and the Unicorn King, by Kate b. Gordon, Relish Books, 2019
Review from kidsbooksnz.blogspot.com
More shrill whinnies had Lily gulping down her fear of the unknown. She grabbed a handful of mane and vaulted onto Rainbow’s bare back. “We have to go see.” He moved forward willingly as she squeezed her legs. “I don’t know what it is, Rainbow, but if a horse is hurt or something, we have to help if we can.”
Little does brave Lily know that she is about to have an adventure she wouldn’t have believed possible. She and her faithful pony Rainbow discover a herd of unicorns have appeared on the beach by her family’s farm. They are on the run from an evil sorceress who is intent on enslaving every last one of them, and they arrived here by means of a magic portal. Adding to the wonder of the mythical creatures, Lily also discovers she has a magical connection to the leader of the herd.
The herd needs a safe place to hide while they recover their strength, and Lily knows just the place – an empty neighbouring farm. Once they are settled in, Lily returns home determined to do everything she can to help them. She decides this secret is too huge to keep and she calls on her two best friends to share in the excitement and challenge.
The first in a planned trilogy of stories, Lily and the Unicorn King is a page turning adventure full of midnight missions, horse riding, magic, unicorns, Maori herbal knowledge, friendship, kindness, an evil witch, bravery and more. The girls put aside their pony club champ training in order to spend time helping the unicorns and in return form deep friendships with the herd, and learn more about themselves and each other along the way.
It is great to see a story set around creatures from European mythology can work so very well in a New Zealand setting, and with Maori mythology and lore. The plot moves along at a good pace, and laced with daring midnight rides. The characters are well written with backstories that are interesting and give them depth, making them more believable and relatable; think overbearing mothers and parents in approaching divorce.
All in all, a great read that will be enjoyed, and more stories to look forward to.