The Unicorn Quest: Fire in the Star by Kamilla Benko
I was lucky enough to reveal Vivienne To's stunning cover art for the first two volumes in Kamilla Benko's magical The Unicorn Quest series. Kamilla is here today to share the cover for the final book in the series, Fire in the Star. I wrote the words in purple, and Kamilla wrote the words in black. Thank you, Kamilla!
Vivienne To is a master storyteller! A major theme in the Unicorn Quest series is that stories don’t have to be written down in words; they can be preserved in all kinds of media. Vivienne is incredibly talented in not only capturing a sense of place and atmosphere, but also emotion. Where I needed three hundred pages, Vivienne needs only a single page of line and color to perfectly capture the trajectory of the sisters. In Fire in the Star, Claire must not only be brave, but she must also learn how to lead others to their own courage. And in Sophie’s expression, you can see just how much she loves Claire—and how proud she is of her. Claire and Sophie are so incredibly lucky to have some one as thoughtful and talented as Vivienne to capture them so perfectly!
The Unicorn Quest series is my ode to some of my favorite childhood authors! Growing up, I adored Gail Carson Levine’s Two Princesses of Bamarre; Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic; Bruce Coville’s Unicorn Chronicles; and Jahnna N. Malcom’s The Jewel Kingdom series. And, of course, CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, which captured my imagination as a kid, but as I grew older, I wondered what the story might have looked like if the girls were allowed to take the lead.
Claire Martinson faces her greatest and most dangerous challenges yet! In Fire in the Star, she reunites with some old friends (and enemies) and even forges some new alliances. She also discovers a rather dangerous pair of footwear. What I love most about Claire, is that even though she is grappling with a huge new revelation about her sister that stirs up a lot of fear, instead of shutting down, she rises up. Though she has every right to be suspicious and pessimistic, she maintains her hope. And because of this, she notices details that others might have overlooked as unimportant but are crucial to saving Arden, once and for all!
Did you know that all of the magic in The Unicorn Quest has a scientific justification behind it? The characters are often told that “magic is in the material” and I take that to heart! With Arden’s magic, I always make sure that there is a real-life equivalent (though in our world, of course, it’s on a much smaller scale!) For example, real plants often use camouflage to protect themselves, so if those same plants ended up in a world with a little bit of magic, it’s not hard to imagine they would be able to go a step further and not just be able to hide themselves, but also an entire village.
Another example is lodestone! It’s a real kind of rock that is naturally magnetic. If you’ve ever seen two magnets of the same charge next to each other, you’ll know that they repel, sending the each other shooting away—and sometimes even off the ground! (This is how magnetic hover boards work.) In Arden, the Gemmers can exaggerate lodestone’s magnetic abilities and use it to shoot themselves over long distances at great speeds. To me, science is just a modern word for magic.
Unicorns on a metaphorical level are all that is good and wondrous in the world. They are sheer imagination and infinite possibility. On a literal level, they are cool horses with swords on their heads!
School Librarians are unicorns! Obviously. :)
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me...what’s next? This October, I have another book coming out, also featuring a pair of sisters: Queen Elsa and Princess Anna! I had the pleasure of working directly with Disney Studios and the directors to write an original novel that shows what happened between Frozen and Frozen II. I still can’t share too much about it, but I can say that the wait to be reunited with the royal sisters of Arendelle will have been worth it!
Kamilla Benko spent most of her childhood climbing into wardrobes, trying to step through mirrors, and plotting to run away to an art museum. Now, she visits other worlds as a children's book author and editor.
Originally from Indiana, she currently lives in New York with her bookshelves, teapot, and hiking boots. In addition to the Unicorn Quest trilogy, she is the author of the original Frozen novel that bridges the events of Disney’s massively successful animated movie and its upcoming sequel.
Look for The Unicorn Quest: Fire in the Star on February 18, 2020.