Review: Rampant

TITLE: Rampant (Killer Unicorns #1)
AUTHOR: Diana Peterfreund
PUBLICATION: 2009 by HarperTeen
FORMAT: Hardcover


Astrid knows the truth about unicorns, that they’re vicious man-eaters with venom in their alicorns. Luckily they have been extinct for almost two centuries… or so she thought until one of them attacks her boyfriend. Now Astrid is being shipped off to Rome where the virgin unicorn hunters are being trained for this new threat, but no one prepared her for this growing attraction to an art student.


I read this book when it originally came out. I had wanted to use the library in efforts to curb my spending on books, but since no branch had any copies at the time I went to Borders and bought it. I didn’t regret it either. I have since bought the sequel, but felt that I needed a memory refresher before I begin reading Ascendant.

First of all let me gush over the subject. Unicorns. Killer unicorns. This isn’t the first novel to depict them as dangerous creatures to be reckoned with yet it’s the best one from what I’ve had the experience of reading. I have this intense fear of re-reading books because sometimes it ends up being a question of where my good taste ran off to and I wonder why I liked a book in the first place. However, it is with relief that I still enjoy Rampant as much as when I first read it.

Second point: characters. Do I love Astrid? Probably not as much as I should but I do like her. Although I kind of wish that there was more of a feel for the other hunters besides Philippa and Cory. I mean, you get some idea of the other hunters, but they don’t quite feel as substantial to me as the unicorns Bonegrinder or Bucephalus, which seems odd considering that he only makes a few appearances in the whole novel. We get more in depth coverage of Cory and Phil, although Phil’s behavior makes me wonder how fine the line between caution and stupidity is. If I were a hunter with her, I’d probably throw Lilith’s barbs at her too. (It’s unfortunate what happened to her, but do you really behave that way with someone you hardly know?) Yet I must confess that I don’t really like Giovanni. He hardly seems capable of moving the needle on my Fictional Characters Like Radar. I get more of a response from a bloodthirsty kirin. YA novels do not seem to have an abundance of love interests that I like in them, I notice.

Peterfreund leaves some questions open in the novel and I hope to find some of them addressed in Ascendant. I’m left wondering myself if it’s possible for a virgin hunter to have a boyfriend for long. I mean, in a normal relationship the question of celibacy does become an issue as well, but for hunters? Your very ability to hunt depends upon your virtue. The girls discuss their views on virginity and if I remember I think one of them said that she left a boyfriend to come to the Cloisters. Their reasons aren’t all religious, it’s just a choice. And of course I wonder if Astrid ever tracks down Seth and repeatedly stab him with an alicorn.

I’m sure that the crowd of YA addicts will eat this up if they haven’t already. However, the modern fantasy fans may also derive a sense of satisfaction from reading this novel. Or you can be like me and just really dig unicorns.

P.S. For those with a Kindle or compatible app, the short story “Errant” from the Killer Unicorns series is available free here. I do not know if this is going to be a permanent thing, or you will have to pay for it again in the future. The story is also found in the collection Kiss Me Deadly for those who would rather lay their hands on a physical copy.


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