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Black Unicorn
Tanith Lee
iBooks, 144 pages

Black Unicorn
Tanith Lee
Tanith Lee has written 58 novels and 9 collections of novellas and short stories. Her work has been translated into over 15 languages. She is a two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award for short fiction, and she received the August Derleth Award in 1980 for her novel Death's Master. She lives in southeast England with her husband, writer John Kahne, and two cats.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Silver Metal Lover
Tanith Lee Bibliography
Paradys -- Tanith Lee Discussion List
Tanith Lee Tribute Site
Tanith Lee Interview

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

I don't know if this is a cavil that's personal enough to be disregarded or if other people ever get around to feeling the same way -- but the press release accompanying this slim volume trumpets "The Return Of The Classic Novel by Internationally Acclaimed Fantasist Tanith Lee". Well, aside from the obsessive capitalization, so far, so good. But then it goes on to say, "Perfect for Fans of Harry Potter and the Academy Award-Nominated The Lord of the Rings".

Oof. There's so many things wrong with that I don't know where to begin. Harry Potter and Aragorn are different enough that "fans" may not encompass both works; one work began life as an unashamed young-adult book, and the other emphatically did not; and since when was The Lord of the Rings defined in terms of the fact that it was nominated for an Academy Award?

And why should an original like Tanith Lee, who writes sparkling gems of stories like Black Unicorn, be compared to either, since her style and her themes match none of the trumpeted comparison works?

Let me say this about the book. It's a slim volume, one which took me a negligible amount of time to read -- but it was time exceedingly well spent. The book made me laugh out loud several times, produce a wry grin at other times, and at least once moved me deeply. It is -- and should be treated as -- a non-pareil, a thing unique to itself, and I'm more than happy to see it reissued in this (illustrated) volume for the reading delight of both Lee's fans and new readers. But it has no Elves, no Muggles (as such), no Ents, no English boarding schools masterfully disguised with talking portraits and shifting staircases to produce Hogwarts. Tanith Lee has her own ideas. I have to admit I developed a great affection for heroine Tanaquil's talking peeve. (A peeve. What a delightful name for a creature. What a delightful creature Tanith Lee has produced to match such a name.) And the "elevators" in the Prince's palace, while wince-worthy, are inimitable. Lee's whole book hovers on the edge of carefully controlled chaos, but that chaos is competently controlled with both strength and finesse. She is, after all, writing about a creature which is described in the blurb as "completely impossible."

And she pulls it off.

Trust me, even people who don't like Tolkien and/or Rowlings might enjoy the sheer sparkle and magic of this book. It didn't need to be propped up by any tired fantasy mainstay buttresses.

It stands on its own.

Copyright © 2003 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves". When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Following her successful two-volume fantasy series, Changer of Days, her latest novel, Jin-shei, is due out from Harper San Francisco in the spring of 2004.

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