by Julia Ember
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: April 21st 2016
Harmony Ink Press
Summary from 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.
When he reached the baobab tree, the unicorn looked around in confusion. The trance of the moonstone seemed to break with the humans closing in on him. He sniffed the horns around him, squealing and pawing the ground in distress. Three of the riders threw their ropes, catching him around the neck. As he struggled to back away, others advanced. Men taunted the stallion with their whips, making him kick and try to rear. When his feet lifted, they threw more ropes, circling the nooses around his powerful feet. As a group, they wrestled the unicorn to the ground, throwing themselves on top of him the moment his knees touched the grass.
Even with the weight of six on his back, and men all around holding ropes anchoring him to the ground, the stallion kept fighting. His eyes rolled back in his head, his legs thrashed and I could hear his screams from the cliff. I’d never heard a unicorn make a sound before, and hearing it now sent a chill through my entire body. His screams were different than a horse, higher in pitch, with a vibrating tremor that made him sound almost like a singer at the crescendo of a performance.
The leader of the group advanced on the now subdued unicorn, holding what looked like a handsaw. The stallion tried frantically to spear the man with his horn, but three of the followers held the animal’s head in place. Still he tried, snorting and staring his captor in the eye, silver-tipped horn poised like a sword toward the leader’s heart.
Kill him, I found myself praying. Fight them. Kill him and this will all be over.
The saw began to tremble in the man’s hand as he swiped again and again across the base of the stallion’s horn. Fragments the size of fingernail clippings covered the earth like snow. Beside me, I felt Kara start to shake. Her whole frame quivered with silent sobs. The horn fell to the ground and all at once, the stallion quit struggling. The men climbed off him and loosened their hold on the ropes that bound him.
The group’s leader reached for one of the ropes around the unicorn’s neck. He turned and the stallion followed him, meek as an old broodmare. His eyes seemed to blink back a heavy sadness, the only echo of his proud battle song.