After finishing The Sign of Four, I gave some children’s books by Bruce Coville a shot, specifically the first two books of the Unicorn Chronicles, Into the Land of the Unicorns and Song of the Wanderer. I’d vaguely heard good things about Coville for a while, but never read any of his stuff. Chad’s mom went to a breakfast presentation by him last week, and snagged a book for us. Unfortunately, it was the second book, but she also had the first one around—which is incredibly short, so it was no problem to read it while I was lounging around Sunday.
These might be good, but I’m too old for them—which was somewhat of a surprise to me, considering the amount of YA stuff I read. On the other hand, these are children’s books, not YA books, and it does make a difference. For one thing, they’re twee. I mean, unicorns: not your interestingly revised unicorns à la Pamela Dean’s Secret Country books, either, but your standard beautiful sparkly noble healing unicorns. Also, the prose kept calling Thog’s Masterclass to mind. One line from the first book stuck in my mind: after a unicorn clears a pond with his horn, we are told that drinking the water “was like drinking diamonds.” Ouch.
There are a few interesting things about these: a nice throwaway line in the first about the dual nature of chains, for instance, and a pretty good conceit behind the main villain. But mostly I’m just too old for these, too old and too cynical to not see the plot twists coming from a mile away, to put up with the twee worldbuilding, and to overlook the level of the prose.