ARC Review: Skandar the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman

Goodreads | Waterstones

Skandar Smith has always yearned to leave the Mainland and escape to the secretive Island, where wild unicorns roam free. He’s spent years studying for his Hatchery exam, the annual test that selects a handful of Mainlander thirteen-year-olds to train to become unicorn riders. But on the day of Skandar’s exam, things go horribly wrong, and his hopes are shattered…until a mysterious figure knocks on his door at midnight, bearing a message: the Island is in peril and Skandar must answer its call.
Skandar is thrust into a world of epic sky battles, dangerous clashes with wild unicorns, and rumors of a shadowy villain amassing a unicorn army. And the closer Skandar grows to his newfound friends and community of riders, the harder it becomes to keep his secrets—especially when he discovers their lives may all be in graver danger than he ever imagined.

Thank you to the publishers, Simon and Schuster, for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is one I’ve been looking forward to for a while, and I was so excited when I received an advanced copy of it last year. The world of middle grade fantasy is rapidly expanding and seeing these new and exciting stories is so heartwarming. Giving out chapter samplers for this book at work has generated a lot of excitement, and I’ve heard a few parents mention how much their child is looking forward to the release after reading the first chapter – now I can see why!

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief is jam-packed with magic, excitement, adventure and danger. It will help to generate a whole new generation of readers, and hooked me from the first page. Skandar has wanted to travel off the mainland to become a unicorn trainer for his whole life, but when he finally gets the chance, it doesn’t happen quite in the way he expected.

There’s an edginess, an element of danger, that I loved about this book and I can see it appealing so much to younger readers. It feels almost forbidden with the edge of darkness but was still crammed full with adventure and entertainment.

My only small complaint is it felt a little long and the characters felt a bit underdeveloped for the length of the book, but I still enjoyed the read. I can definitely see this one being a big middle grade release of the year and I think a lot of younger readers are going to love it!

★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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