Friday, May 18, 2012

THE LAST HUNT


Review of THE LAST HUNT by BRUCE COVILLE
(fourth in THE UNICORN CHRONICLES)

This book has been over a decade in the making! I didn't rush to read it - after all I've waited years - but when I finally opened the cover to the first page I actually felt a flood of giddiness accompanied by the ecstatic realization, I’m reading the final book in THE UNICORN CHRONICLES! And you know what? It doesn't disappoint. In fact, it soared above my expectations!

By now it's no secret that I consider pace one of Coville's greatest strengths, but he still raises the bar even higher in that regard. This entire book, much thicker than the first three, takes place over only five days - the five days of Beloved's Last Hunt. Five action, adventure, revelation, and loss packed days.

What really demanded my adoration, though, are all the shocking twists Coville weaved into this final installment. Yes, he answers questions for which we patiently awaited answers, but he also provides fascinating explanations for details I never even hesitated over, not to mention a greater backstory to the entire world of Luster that I dare anyone to claim they predicted. However, despite the dozens of mysteries that Coville closes with tantalizing explanations, he leaves some (and even creates more) puzzles, riddles, and secrets about which we never learn the answers. Perhaps intended to add to Luster's sense of wonder, but I can't help wondering if Coville's deliberately leaving the door open to return to this world again with a new story.

Ah, the end. Don't worry - I won't spoil it. The nail-biting pace propelled me through the novel until, with dismay, I noticed how few pages I had left with only a bleak outlook at best. Throughout the book I kept wishing for as little death and confrontation as possible for characters I've come to treasure, but as the ending neared I felt blindsided by the realization that I expected a happily-ever-after and Coville might be about to finish with a devastating tragedy. With only a few chapters left and so many wounds (metaphorical and literal!) wide open, I feared bittersweet might be the best outcome for which I could hope. There will be death, sacrifice, and heartbreak. The question that held me captive: how much?

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