Rampant is a unicorn novel for people who hate unicorns — or at least the fluffy depiction of unicorns in current popular culture. Peterfreund sets out to reclaim the dignity of the unicorn by returning to the legendary roots of one-horned critters, and weaves multi-cultural variants on the theme into a unicorn hierarchy.
Since Peterfreund’s unicorns are fierce predators inclined to maim and/or devour any but a maiden pure, she posits a secret society of unicorn slayers. For a little while it seemed like Rampant was going to be more-or-less a rip off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Seasons 7 and 8* in particular, with narrator Astrid as the Buffy-figure helping to train a cadre of young warrior women to combat unicorns instead of vampires ). I would have been fine with that; the sheer novelty of fierce and deadly unicorns was sweeping me along.
But ultimately, Rampant, to its credit, has a lot more going on. It deals with feminist issues a little more explicitly than Buffy, and it’s angrier. I can imagine that if some teenage boys could bring themselves to read a (dark, gory) book about (fighting) unicorns they could possibly have their consciousnesses raised in ways that might prevent some real-world damage to human beings.
I was a little worried as the remaining page-count dwindled that Rampant was going to be one of those “novels” that turned out to be first-in-series and not a complete story. I was pleasantly surprised that while Rampant doesn’t exactly preclude a sequel, it certainly doesn’t require one. I thought the dénouement was a little rushed, but that may have been partly because I was turning the pages so fast.
Peeve: “hissed” as the verb describing the utterance of several sibilant-free bits of dialogue. Multiple times, yet.
*yes, Season 8. It’s currently unspooling in comic book form.
needs more demons? nope.