In the past couple of years, unicorns have grown in popularity as a trend in beauty products, on school supplies, clothing, and jewelry. Some of this may have started with the revamp of the My Little Ponies toys and TV show in the early 2000s.
Before unicorns became associated with glitter and beauty products, the symbolism of the unicorn was associated with purity, femininity, morality and divine power. Growing up, I was fascinated with unicorn lore and stories and read any books I could find from the local library. Now, as an adult, I still collect and look for unicorn books, whether they are for kids or adults.
This is a list of some of my favorite unicorn novels I have read both as a child and as an adult. I am sure you will find something on the list you or your kid will enjoy!
1. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
If there is a classic unicorn novel, The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle is it. This novel was first published in 1968 and has become a fantasy classic among readers and catapulted the author into popularity with his other fantasy novels.
The story is centered around a unicorn who discovers she is the last unicorn in the world. Although men cannot see unicorns unless they are true and pure, she meets a bumbling magician, Schmendrick, and the brave Molly Grue who help her with her adventure. The unicorn is placed into a position where she is touched by love, sorrow, and regret as she seeks to save the other unicorns.
The Unicorn Chronicles by Bruce Coville
The Unicorn Chronicles is a four book series written for middle-grade children. The series consists of: Into the Land of the Unicorns, Song of the Wanderer, Dark Whispers and The Last Hunt published between 1994-2010.
Cara’s grandmother, Ivy, sends her to another world, Luster, where unicorns live in harmony away from humans. Cara meets the queen of the unicorns, Arabella Skydancer, and is sent on a quest to ensure the safety of the unicorns in Luster. Cara discovers she is part of the world of the unicorn, the humans, and the enemy unicorn hunters as she continues her quest in each book.
This is a wonderful book series for preteen and teen girls with a strong heroine as the main character. I waited years for the third and fourth novels when the author was still working on them!
Unfortunately, these novels are no longer in publication, but used copies and the audio version are available on Amazon. Bruce Coville is currently undergoing a project to bring newly published editions to a new generation of readers.
3. The Princess and the Unicorn by Carol Hughes
It’s been a long time since I read this novel, but I found it in the middle-grade section of my local bookstore when I was in college. I picked it up because it sounded like a lovely story!
Princess Eleanor discovers a unicorn in the forest by Swinley Castle and decides to capture the creature and bring it to Buckingham forest. However, the young Princess does not realize the unicorn will sicken and die outside of its forest home. Joyce, the fairy who lives in the forest and sees the unicorn captured, is sent on a mission to save the unicorn.
This is a charming read for anyone who enjoys stories about unicorns. Sadly, the soft cover is no longer being printed, but you can find the Kindle version at Amazon as well as used copies!
4. A Glory of Unicorns by Bruce Coville
A Glory of Unicorns is a collection of short stories and poetry that was put into this anthology by Bruce Coville, the author of The Unicorn Chronicles. He does share a short story of his own, but the bulk of the work is by other authors.
I loved this collection of short stories growing up. The one that I remember the most was one about a girl who has not been accepted by her new classmates and spends much of her time making up fantastical, but unbelievable stories.
This collection of stories is no longer in print, but many used copies are available through second-hand booksellers.
5.The Unicorns of Balinor series by Mary Stanton
The Unicorns of Balinor series by Mary Stanton was released from 1999-2000 by Scholastic in an 8 part series for preteen readers. This is another series for girls who enjoy strong female characters.
Arianna is the princess of Balinor, but finds herself in the normal human realm with her “horse.” She later comes to realize, her “horse” is really a unicorn, and she has been suffering from amnesia after a terrible accident. Arianna goes on a quest in her homeland to try and heal her unicorn, Sunchaser, whose horn has been broken, and discover what happened to her family with the help of the Celestial Unicorns.
This series went out of print, but Mary Stanton has brought back the series along with several of her other books for Kindle release.
6.Where Have the Unicorns Gone? By Jane Yolen
This is not a novel, but a kids storybook with beautiful artwork by Ruth Sanderson. The story traces the unicorns as they are forced to seek a new home as modern day civilization encroaches upon their livelihood. The text rhymes and is sure to be a delight for both younger children and their parents.
7.The Unicorn and the Lake by Marianna Mayer
I remember reading this book when I was very young from the library. Although the title of this children’s book escaped me for years, I never forgot the breathtaking artwork by Michael Hague. The story depicts the story of the unicorn battling a wicked serpent to save his kingdom.
Sadly, this book is also no longer in print, but both the hardcover and softcover editions are available through secondhand booksellers. If you are looking for new storybook for your kindergartner, this book will not disappoint!
8.Unicorns of the Mist Series by R. R. Russell
Unicorns of the Mist is a two-book series that came out over the past few years and includes Wonder Light and The Unicorn Thief. I found these books while browsing the middle-grade section in Barnes and Noble one night with my friend. This series is definitely for preteens and older children due to some of the content in the stories.
Twig is sent away by her stepmother and father to a group home for troubled girls after being accused of hurting her step-sister on purpose. Feeling rejected, she must come to terms with living in the group home and her father’s failure to believe her. However, one night she hears crying from the horse stable and discovers unicorn foal. A mysterious boy in the woods, Ben, insists she must care for the colt. The story continues in the second book when the unicorn is grown, and Twig is her rider as they seek to free the unicorns of Ben’s homeland.
These books are out of print, but still available on the Kindle. I am hoping the author will release the third book in the series in the future.
9.The Christmas Unicorn by Anna Currey
This is another children’s book that my friend bought me for one year as a Christmas present since she knew I collected unicorn books. This is a charming story with beautiful artwork.
Milly and her mom are staying with her grandparents for Christmas. She meets Florian, a unicorn, which helps to bring friendship and surprises to her holiday.
This cute book currently still available through second-hand sellers. If you are lucky, you may be able to find it at Barnes and Noble.
10.The Unicorn’s Secret series by Kathleen Duey
Kathleen Duey is an author of middle-grade novels and children’s books that mainly focuses around horses and unicorns. The Unicorn’s Secret is an eight-book series for older children ages 7-10.
Heart Tribley is an orphan who adopts a mare, Avamir, who gives birth to a weak colt. It turns out the horse is a unicorn, and Heart must do everything she can to protect Moonsilver. The series continues as she tries to find a safe haven for her unicorns from the evil Lord Dunraven. She will do anything to see them safe.
This book series is available in a box set and would make an excellent gift for a child that loves unicorns and reading! You can find it at Amazon, as well as with the books individually for sale!
There are obviously other books about unicorns available and more coming out with the rising popularity of unicorns. Please make sure to check out some of these books though so you or your kids can have more unicorn stories to enjoy!
~Heidi E. Cruz