Twig is used to feeling unwanted. Sent to live on a pony ranch for troubled girls on a misty, haunted island, Twig is about to discover the impossible—someone who needs her.
Jolted awake from a bad dream, Twig follows the desperate whinny of a terrified horse out to the stables. There in the straw is a bleating little scrap of moonbeam. A silver-white filly with cloven hooves and a tiny, spiraling horn.
A baby unicorn.
Now Twig knows what secret is hiding in the island’s mist: the last free unicorn herd. And a mysterious boy named Ben who insists that this impossible creature is now Twig’s to care for. That she needs Twig’s love and protection. Because there’s something out there in the deep, dense shadows that’s hunting for them…
Okay, now for my review:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I didn’t think I would have this review done in time for the blog tour since I just received a paperback copy with print big enough for my old eyes to read yesterday. But once I started reading today, I didn’t want to put the book down. So I didn’t. I read the whole book in one evening. Or should I say a dark and stormy night. Well, it was. Our lights went off and on so many times, I pulled out all the electronics’ plugs but kept walking with the book. Otherwise, I didn’t notice the storm much because R.R. Russell wrote so well. Aubrey Poole edited as well – I found fewer errors than I have in months.
After I discovered I couldn’t read the PDF copy, I loaned it to a friend’s twelve-year-old daughter for her to review in my stead. I can’t say for sure, but I think she’ll love the book as much as I did. The only people who might not like this series would be those who don’t like references to Christianity or vicious, predatory animals they think should be tame. Keep this in mind for sensitive kids. At age nine, I suspect I would have hid under the bed like I did when I read about Tolkien’s ring wraiths riding by the hobbits. But I sure wouldn’t have wanted my parents to take the book away!
The characterization is good and most of the plot unfolds in a realistic manner. Twig was very likable; however, Russell withheld too much concerning Twig’s background. I didn’t like the false mystery, the opposite of info dump. Twig’s not talking was dead on: exactly how my dad’s death affected me at a younger age. But the book was written in Twig’s point of view, and no girl could avoid thinking of the event that brought her to the island for as long as she did. Nightmares would be a frequent and terrifying event. My other concern was that troubled girls didn’t act very troubled, and in a couple of places, I also doubted the adult reactions.
Still, multitudes of excellent storytelling choices dwarf those problems. I’ll limit examples to a few: time as a healer of wounds and a spur to character growth; good caregivers (for once!); unique unicorn behavior and anatomy (not hard to believe if you’ve seen skeletons of some extinct animals); plus interior and exterior conflicts working together to create tension. I could go on, but the best part of all my favorite books is a complete plot arc with an unexpected resolution, plus a teaser for the next book. It’s hard to explain without spoilers except to say that good overcomes the bad, but not without loss.
I think most adults will like Wonder Light almost as much as their kids will. I rate it a 4 for me and 4.5 for tweens. In fact, families might want to have a tug of war to see who reads first. Don’t. Read aloud together and enjoy. I rate received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Now, I’m champing at the bit – pun intended – for book two. I hope it delves a little deeper into the other girls’ issues because those who are hurting most inside may also seek reading as an escape and a means to heal. Now that would be real magic.
R.R. Russell lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. She grew up traveling the world as an army brat and now travels the country as a coach with a nonprofit judo club. She loves to read and draw, and like Twig, once spent a lot of time sketching unicorns.
To find out more about her writing and publishing process, her other books, and other overly caffeinated craziness, visit RRRussellauthor.com.
She writes as R.R. Russell for kids and R.H. Russell for teens and adults. Also see the social media links below.