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Book Review: The Last Hunt, by Bruce Coville

The Last Hunt (Unicorn Chronicles, #4)The Last Hunt by Bruce Coville
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Last Hunt, by Bruce Coville
★★★ ½ (rounded down to 3)

Synopsis: In the center of Luster towers an enormous tree that is the Heart of the World. Now the tree is wounded, pierced by a tunnel that connects it to Earth. Through that tunnel strides Beloved, the ancient enemy of the unicorns, followed by an army of Hunters eager to destroy every last unicorn.
At the center of this great struggle is the human girl, Cara Diana Hunter, who sets out with her friend, the gryphon Medafil, to ask a dragon to aid the unicorns. As she travels, Cara meets not only the dragon, but a mysterious stranger who may hold the key to Luster’s secrets.
As the threads of destiny weave about her, Cara will discover at last the truth about the unicorns – a truth that brings hard choices for everyone she loves as this magnificent, multi-stranded saga thunders to its astonishing conclusion.
In A Sentence: A surprising conclusion to a good series.

My Thoughts: This book surprised me, and I often don’t get surprised by kid’s books. The first two books were light and clearly for younger kids. The third one, published almost a decade later, involved only one death, which surprised me a little. It was also a bit darker than the first two, but being a middle book, that was to be expected.
The fourth book was the darkest and most violent out of all of them. In a way it reminded me of the many warrior-action films we see nowadays, where everything and everyone converges into one major final battle at the end. That’s exactly what this book did, although not in the way that I expected. For one thing, I wasn’t expecting there to be so much death! This is a kids’ book, but more characters died, or didn’t have a happy ending, in this story than in Harry Potter. I was slightly shocked, considering how G-rated the first couple of books were.
I was also surprised at the ending. It was bittersweet, which was to be expected, but I think it could have used some more optimism. I thought it could have used a little more writing as well, since it felt kind of unfinished and left me with a few unanswered questions (does that mean there’s another one coming out?).
I saw some flaws in the story too. There were some inconsistencies with the idea behind transformative magic (I’m not entirely sure why it worked for one character, but not so much for another), as well as with the unicorn’s ability to tell time and understand other languages. It seemed like Coville was insisting that unicorns did not tell time like humans did, nor were they able to understand other languages, but I kept seeing examples throughout the books where they did.
Overall, I have mixed feelings with this story. On the one hand I’m glad I finally read it, and I appreciated the complexity of the story. On the other hand, I felt the conclusion could have used a little more. If there’s another book in the works, then I’d be fine, but if this is the end then I am not satisfied. Definitely an interesting story though.


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