Title: The Unicorn Princess (Pacific Princesses)
Author: Ektaa Bali
Published: 16th October 2020
Synopsis: Sonakshi is the first Princess of Macuata Fiji, to be born as a unicorn in hundreds of years. Kept secret and hidden in her castle in the Blue Mountains Australia, she tries to come to terms with her unicorn-self. But it’s pretty difficult when she’s the only unicorn she knows!
When the powerful witch Mankini kidnaps her friend Rowen, she and her loyal companion Kiera, know they must act before he is lost forever.
Their quest leads them across dangerous Australian Bushland and over the Pacific Ocean to Fiji where Mankini lies waiting.
But a terrible secret threatens everything Sonakshi thought she knew.
It will take skill, wit and a bit of magic to get them through to the other side.
There are mermaids, fae and kangaroos. But where there are friends, there are also foes.
Danger and deception awaits.
Things are never as they seem…
Soankshi has lived in a castle in the NSW Blue Mountains since she was three, far from her Fijian home. Her parents are keeping her hidden from a witch who wants to use Sonakshi for nefarious means. When Rowen, Kiera’s brother is kidnapped, Sonakshi and Kiera set out to save Rowen –and meet fae, mermaids and talking kangaroos along the way. Who can they trust – and what will happen if they can’t get to Rowen in time?
Ektaa contacted me via my blog to review this, and I loved it! It was delightful to see how the Australian and Pacific world was used to create a diverse cast of characters in a relatable and exciting fantasy world. The characters evoke a sense of the real world – the people and cultures within it and has drawn on her own Fijian and Australian experiences to create a fresh and exciting world that middle grade readers, or readers of fantasy will gobble up, and love.
As an Australian, it is rare to see Australia used as a fantasy setting. Usually it is some kind of European or medieval setting – which is nice, and I like it, but something different like this is wonderful, and Ektaa has managed to pull together all the things that are wonderful about the Pacific, the Blue Mountains and fantasy tropes to create her novel.
It is also delightful to see diverse authors, and main characters who are from places like Fiji. The world is believable, that one might go searching for a castle in the Blue Mountains, or a unicorn princess in Fiji, and this was part of the immersive magic for me – I wanted to be in this world, and be part of Sonakshi’s life and group. I wanted to help her, to visit where she went, and to meet her friends.
This looks to be a very promising series – that readers will adore, and that young readers will see themselves in – will see characters who look, and potentially sound like them. This is the magic of an Own Voices, Diverse book. And in this book, the characters are just who they are – and this is fabulous. They are allowed to be Fijian or Irish. This is lovely – I love it when characters can be who they are meant to be. It is a wonderful fantasy series that celebrates diversity and fantastical creatures in a way that all readers will fall in love with. I can’t wait to see where the rest of this series goes, and what other Pacific Princesses we will get to meet!