My rating: ★★☆☆☆
Alrighty. Here we are, finally at the end of the Unicorns of Balinor series. (Thank goodness!) Before I talk about the book, I’d like to paint you a picture.
Sometime around 2000, I was an elementary schooler with a love of reading. I had discovered the Unicorns of Balinor series, and while I wasn’t massively impressed (that honor went to Harry Potter and Song of the Lioness), I enjoyed the series enough to quickly read to the end. I finished Shadows Over Balinor, returned it to the out-of-town library I’d got it from, and eagerly went over to the shelf for the next book.
Except there wasn’t a next book. Some quick OPAC (remember that term? I don’t think I’ve heard it since 2003) research proved that Shadows Over Balinor was the end of the series, and my tiny little child-brain didn’t understand. I honestly wondered if Mary Stanton had died before managing to finish the series. I was stunned that the end of the series had come and gone without addressing the lingering plot threads.
My Night of the Shifter’s Moon review outlined these, so I’ll revisit them in order of importance.
What’s the secret behind Linc’s mysterious past, and will he have to go back to Glacier River Farm?
Both of these questions are answered, but in what’s possibly silliest sequence of events to be found in children’s fantasy. I won’t ruin the answer for you, because if you read this you will want to be surprised. It’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read, and I could never take that WTF away from anyone.
Will Lori ever get home, or is she going to stay in Balinor forever?
This isn’t resolved. At all. The series ends by implying Lori will go home someday, but that’s it.
What’s up with that Kraken guy, and is he supposed to be the new Big Bad?
This is answered, but it’s vague and befuddingly. I’m still not sure what his deal was.
At first, Kraken is presented as some kind of demigod of evil. Then he was stated to be relatively neutral, if somewhat inclined toward “evil”. Now suddenly he’s playing Bigger Bad to Entia, a powerful evil that must be stopped at all costs. (And then he’s stopped with literally zero cost.)
And I’m still puzzled by the explanation of his powers. Since magic in Balinor has to be balanced between good and evil, both the sides have to be relatively equal. But the goal of Shadows Over Balinor is to make sure Kraken stays weak… so how exactly does that work?
Entia has been defeated, which would mean that the “evil” side is now weaker than the “good”. So Kraken rising makes sense; he’s filling the gap that Entia left behind.
But by defeating Kraken, doesn’t that leave an imbalance? Doesn’t that upset the flow of magic? Doesn’t weakening Kraken mean they’re weakening themselves? Is that what they were trying to do? Or…?
See what you’ve done to me, book? I’ve been reduced to gifs. For shame.
Where is Ari’s family, and will they ever be rescued?
This is pretty much the single most important facet of the series, beyond overthrowing Entia (which happened a whole book ago).
And it’s never resolved. Ari’s family is never recovered. At the end of the book, the characters just return home with a collective “eh, we’ll get around to it sometime or other”.
I… but… what…?