Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure
“Every horse has a talent or two. Some can sit, some can jump over obstacles, and some can select a button for a treat. For one particular draft horse, Dok Saau, his talent is in writing. He does not just scribble letters in the ground as a trick, but he also uses his talent to express his own thoughts to his bemused owners.
Surprised by his strange talent, his owner Chang Gao brings him to the Horse Fair, where he beats the other horses by writing proper answers to several questions. After a DNA scan, he is revealed to be a unicorn: even though he was supposed to be released into the wild, the authorities let Chang Gao keep him so that he might become a local attraction.
Yet even as he tries to adjust to his new life as an animal celebrity, every now and then he faces recurring nightmares from his troubled past. As he seeks Chang Gao’s help, will he be there to help him defeat his fears? Or would they instead attract something much worse: something that could threaten his comforts or even his own life?”
Just reading the unique premise of ‘Unicorn Farmhand’ had me very interested and the book did not disappoint. After escaping a traumatic life in the circus, Dok-Saau the horse has taken to life on a simple farm, but he is far from simple. He is an exceedingly intelligent animal who is fascinated by the human art of writing.
From observing his caretakers, he learns to write in various ways and when he begins communicating with his humans, soon becomes a local celebrity. Dok-Saau’s character is entirely charming. He’s not only smart and loves to learn and teach, he’s witty, determined, and loyal. It’s really cool to see how his brain comprehends things from human culture and how he’s not afraid to speak his mind regardless of the situation. Dok-Saau also seems to suffer from a sort of PTSD which goes a long way in his personification. Over the course of the book, we see him try to remember and overcome the dark experiences of his past and finally, with the help of his human and animal friends, takes their enemy head on.
However, this amazing horse is not the only interesting thing about the story. The author has crafted a world reminiscent of several real-life cultures while incorporating elements of science fiction. The culture, lore, and histories of Dok-Saau’s country and the various peoples surrounding are both unique and vast. My favorite parts include his hometown’s many holidays as well as the interactions between Dok-Saau, his caretakers, and their extended family. While his human family and friends are very compassionate, they also have their flaws which makes them believable as real persons.
Another fun bit of the story is when Dok-Saau is introduced to a weird species of horse the humans call unicorn. The human children (even the adults) are intrigued with the species while Dok-Saau himself finds them irritating and stupid. The book is full of little quirky moments as he explores the world around him and learns to use his strength to better it for everyone.
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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden
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