“This was her adventure. I was part of her one adventure. But when she didn’t move to release my fingers, I let myself wonder, for just a second, if it were possible she wanted what I did and if she felt vulnerable too.”- Mnemba, Unicorn Tracks
*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.*
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.
Unicorn Tracks is a YA fantasy novel that follows the story of Mnemba, a safari guide who spends her days showing tourists the mystical creatures of Nazwimbe. She may not love her job, but it helps to keep her mind off of tragedies from the past. Mnemba is hired by Mr. Harving and his daughter, Kara, two naturalist from Echalend who have traveled to Nazwimbe in hopes of tracking down and studying the elusive Unicornalis Kardunn (Unicorns). While on the hunt for these majestic creatures, Mnemba and Kara come across a group of poachers who are capturing and exploiting unicorns for their labor. Hoping to set these creatures free, the two devise a plan to take down the poachers. But when things go awry, Mnemba and Kara find themselves in a lot more trouble than they anticipated.
Unicorn Tracks was a surprising and refreshing YA fantasy that hooked me right from the beginning. The setting was the first thing that caught my attention as the story is set in an African-inspired world. I loved the variety of majestic creatures seen throughout this book and Ember did a great job at bringing this world to life. I mean, THERE ARE UNICORNS IN THIS BOOK! WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR?! The plot itself took me by surprise, especially since I didn’t read the synopsis beforehand, I just dived in. Based on the cover alone, I would not have expected this book to contain as much bloody scenes as it did. The action was intense and the suspense had me crossing my fingers that everything would work out in the end. There were also a few scenes that definitely made my skin crawl.
I really liked Mnemba and I admired her for doing what she felt was best for her, even if it meant having to leave her family. Throughout this book, she finds herself opening up and learns how to trust again. I didn’t really care too much for Kara’s character, but I did enjoy seeing her with Mnemba. I liked how Kara and Mnemba balanced each other out, as Kara is a little more daring and Mnemba tends err on the side of caution. This story includes an interracial F/F romance and I liked the fact that the romance did not overtake the plot. However, I did have one major issue with this book and that would be with the length. This book is on the shorter side and the last two chapters felt rushed. I was hoping for a more grand finale and it kind of fell flat for me.
Overall, Unicorn Tracks is a unique and fascinating YA fantasy that I would definitely recommend to everyone. The amazing world building and engaging plot will suck you in and also THE UNICORNS? How can you pass on a book about unicorns?