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on February 19, 2011
This was a good, quick read. I started reading it to my kids before their bedtime and they kept wanting more. I finally finished reading the last six chapters to them this afternoon. The ending provided a nice twist.

The book's level makes a great step up from the Magic Tree house series by providing more indepth characters and stronger plot.

The dialog was quick and authenic. The narrative was very descriptive. I hope there's more to come from this author.

Very appropriate for Middle School aged kids.
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on March 8, 2011
The Thirteenth Unicorn is definitely written with a tween/ early teen age group in mind, which I already knew going in and so wasn't disappointed with the overall book. It does remind me a lot of the Narnia series; portal to another world, two boys and two girls, having to beat an evil witch etc, but it has enough differences (the inclusion of other fantasy elements) to keep it distinct.
I am an avid fantasy reader/ writer and look to read books that can keep the audience engaged. The author's style is easy to read and he keeps the story flowing at a fast clip; necessary for a good fantasy. I enjoyed reading it.
My only issues with the story is how fast the pivotal scenes seem to happen, without any fleshing out; battles are over in a paragraph, vital 'weapons' are retrieved without incident. It seems that these are events that could definitely benefit from a little more description. This is the only reason I felt let down.
Overall, the descriptions in the book are well thought out and give a pretty good image of the surroundings; if the author could add these kinds of decriptions to the main turning points (which are what makes a good story) in the book, it would be even better. I could see this book re-written for a more mature audience, where the author could delve into more detail about the history of Camelot, and the other worlds and races.

Necromancer (The Dark Rising)
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on April 10, 2011
The Thirteenth Unicorn is the story of a sister & brother who are thrust into a fantasy world through a magic portal on Grandma's farm. Grandma goes along too. While the first few pages are a bit ordinary, the book quickly gets down to the business of life on a magic plannet. It is a bit whimsical, much like "The Hobbit", but has action, interesting characters and the story like quality that we all enjoyed when others read story books to us. I think there is a place for a "light treatment" of phantasy lands with fast action pace. The book achieves all of these. I am about half way through and looking forward to reading the rest to my 8 year old daughter. I strongly recommend this book for those who read to their children or for children a little older needing this kind of fast paced adventure.
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This is a very good story for children and young adults, but adults who enjoy fantasy will also be pleased. There are some grammar issues, but not nearly as many as in most free ebooks. Well worth the time to read it.
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on May 27, 2013
I'm sure the author's heart is in the right place, but this is one of the worst-written books I've have ever encountered. The only reason I read it all the way through is that I wanted to give it a fair chance before reviewing it here.

So now I'm done and it's time to write the review. Where should I start?

First, I do not think an editor ever saw this before it was published. The book is full of grammatical errors and malapropisms. Commas are in the wrong places throughout, and plural possessives have the apostrophe before the s instead of after it (the "dwarves's" instead of "the dwarves'"). Some of the errors are funny, like "peal off" instead of "peel off," or my favorite, "anger that was almost palatable." Palatable??? You mean palpable??? That's a cliche, but at least it's the right word.

There are lots of cliches and examples of bad writing, like "huge giant" and "young infant." Worse than that, though, is the hackneyed plot and cast of characters, a cross between C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. So we have the witch from another world who caused the blight, the coarse grumpy dwarves and the tall elegant elves, and the two boys and two girls who have to save the world, and the enchanted forest and the river and the long lake... and the big man who turns into a bear ..and the villagers storming the dwarves' gates. Not to mention the sick mother, straight from "The Magician's Nephew."

The author does not have a knack for names. Some of the place names come straight from Tolkien. Characters' names are just unoriginal: the dwarves have baby names like Hob and Nob and the elves have preppy names like Marcus and Gabriel. The author couldn't think of better names for his wizard and villain than Merlin and Mordred. Among the humans, adults are introduced by last name, and then abruptly called by their first names. The author decided not to deal with language issues, so everyone speaks English, though for comic effect the elves and dwarves don't understand American colloquialisms. The author likes informal language, like saying "The front door to the dwarve's [sic] home was busted off the hinges ..."

The story is launched through two ambitious chapters relating incidents from the deep past that relate to things that will take place in the main action. Aside from these chapters, the back-story, which is ridiculously complex and concerns characters that we never see, is talked about rather than shown. In general, action descriptions are skimpy and compressed, while much of the story is explained in conversations that are more like briefings. On the other hand, description is lavished on visits to a livestock fair and a pizza place, which have nothing to do with the plot. I bet they are drawn straight from the author's experience, while the rest of the book is drawn from things he has read.

By the way, the enemy that the heroes are fighting during most of the story are a sort of reptilian/insect horde with no motivation except to kill everything, so the elves and dwarves and humans have to kill them all instead. Yawn. With arrows (elves) and axes (dwarves).

And to top it off, the book is pervasively sexist. The girls do nothing much but break into tears. The grandmother (and honestly, how old can she be?) complains continuously about how weak and tired she is. There are no female elves or dwarves. Why are there no female elves and dwarves? Because C.S.Lewis and Tolkien lived in a male-only world in Oxford, in England, almost a century ago. There is no excuse for a modern American author to perpetuate this nonsense.

I am sorry to see that Newman has written a sequel to "The Thirteenth Unicorn," but I hope he found an editor for the next volume, and maybe some fresh ideas as well. As I said, his heart is in the right place.
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on May 3, 2014
Even free, this is not worth it. I had to force myself to finish it. This is full of annoying grammar errors. It has a glut of commas, as well as other punctuation errors and misused words. It is not creatively written. He uses other writers' descriptions instead of creating his own, when there are any descriptions at all. Explanations are sketchy and characters are forgettable. Names of characters are unoriginal. There are no strong women here; Grandma sits down and cries whenever there is a difficult situation. The kids aren't allowed to do much, and what is accomplished is unexplained and unbelievable. Like another reviewer, I don't understand how anyone could give it more than one star.
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on May 24, 2014
I read a "rather harsh" review of this book and it actually aroused my curiosity. There were a few grammatical errors and spelling errors. My daughter teaches editing in a school of journalism on the university level. She would not enjoy the book. But I purchased this book to read with my grandchildren and found it to be very entertaining.
If you are looking for a fun book to read, and to just escape the realities of this life for awhile, I recommend the book.
It did take me a little while to get past some of the descriptive details of the scenery and characters.
I could care less if the author spelled John Deere tractor with the "e" at the end or not. Actually, he did both. So what? I knew what he meant.
Good book to read for grandparents and grand kids. Safe without a lot of Gore, etc.
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on April 24, 2014
I thought that this might be a YA (young adult) book, but having read it on my phone, I think that perhaps younger kids might be the target audience. I enjoyed it. It was interesting fantasy, but a bit sweet and "everything works out" for YA.

I haven't read -A Wrinkle in Time- or -The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe- recently, but I consider this in that same line of fiction. If you enjoyed those, I think you would enjoy this. I will look for more of Newman's books. They are certainly page-turners.
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on October 28, 2015
I don't know when or why I downloaded this book, but I decided to read it on a car trip. It was a fast, easy and fun read and made the miles go by. I would recommend it for especially for tween boys and grandmothers. It was interesting to see various prejudices and misconceptions that the different groupings had about each other vanish as they had to work together to survive. As a grandmother I would be interested in reading a prequel focused on how Grandma got into Camelot the first time and what happened. This is not a good book for budding herpetologists as the snake people are evil and embody all the negative stereotypes of snakes and then some. I have already downloaded the next book.
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on September 16, 2013
The Thirteenth Unicorn is a great story to read with your child. I will read this with my son, who is in 3rd grade, but it might be more of a fourth or fifth grade level for most kids to read on their own. This is a fun story without any offensive wording. There are some violent scenes but nothing too gruesome or graphic. If your child likes magical adventures this is a really fun read!
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