Dark Whispers (Unicorn Chronicles, #3) - Bruce Coville Welcome to ULA––Unicorn Lovers Anonymous. Who would like to speak first?*Stands up* Hello, friends. I'm Brigid and when I was 9 years old, I was a unicorn addict. I have now been sober for almost ten years now ... well, except for that I went into a brief relapse so that I could read this book.Anyway, I have Bruce Coville to blame for the unicorn addiction. He hooked me with the first two Unicorn Chronicles books and then decided to take a whole decade-long break from publishing them, thus leaving me empty-handed and desperate. And so I found myself searching frantically for other unicorn books to fulfill my needs since I could not immediately know how the Unicorn Chronicles would end. Unfortunately, there's a surprising lack of unicorn fiction out there––and what unicorn fiction exists is mostly crap. So after sorting through the crap I had to resort to writing my own rip-off unicorn stories and drawing illustrations of unicorns––which is a bit odd for a 9-year-old kid, which is why everyone hated me in elementary school and I had no friends. So basically, you ruined my childhood, Bruce Coville. Thanks a lot. Okay, okay. I won't be that mean. Honestly I have no idea what prevented Mr. Coville from writing the third book in this series. Maybe his life started sucking and/or he just didn't have the time or inspiration or whatever. But still, the wait was rather cruel. And even after it came out, I couldn't quite bring myself to read it––even though I was dying to know what happened next, I felt a bit silly reading it as a teenager. But ultimately, I succumbed to the temptation. I just had to know.Well ... uh ... Yeah. Understandably I couldn't enjoy this book as much as I would have when I was a child. I still liked it, but didn't love it as much as I loved the first two, back when I was in third grade.Firstly, ten years is a long time between books. In ten years an author's style can change a lot. I don't remember a ton about the first couple of books––although I remembered most of the details as I began to read this one––but I still felt like this book was oddly detached from the others. It seemed a bit dark in comparison. Three characters died, in rather horrible ways too. I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, it just came as a surprise to me since I remember the first pair of books being a bit more innocent.The other problem is, I've changed a lot too since I started reading these series. Back when I read books one and two, I thought they were the best thing since sliced bread. Since then, I've read hundreds of other books that I've loved a lot more. This book may have met my standards 9 years ago, but not quite at my current age.Was this better or worse than the first two? I don't know. I thought about rereading them before getting to this one, but decided against it. I'm always afraid to reread books from my childhood, because often I found that I've glorified them in my mind and that they're a lot crappier than I remember. Well, I can say that as far as juvenile fiction goes these are very good. I'd recommend this to kids over Captain Underpants any day. Still, there are aspects of the story that I found a bit ridiculous, now that I'm reading them as an adult. Mostly what I find hard to believe is the story of how the villain, a woman ironically named Beloved, became evil.I guess this is kind of a spoiler if you haven't read these books, but I assume that these are only being read by 10-year-olds who most likely won't read this review, you're not going to read this and you just want to read my review of it, or you've already read it. So, yeah. Just deal with it.Okay, so. Here's the story. When Beloved was a kid, her dad took her out hunting with him one day because she was a sickly child and he didn't want to leave her at home. He left her in the middle of the woods somewhere while he went out to shoot things. While he was gone, a unicorn came along and decided to stick its horn through Beloved's heart in order to heal her of her sickness. Her dad comes back and is understandably concerned when he sees his daughter being impaled by a unicorn. He screams or something, which startles the unicorn, who rears up. When the unicorn does this, a piece of its horn breaks off and is stuck permanently in Beloved's heart. The unicorn and Beloved's father then battle each other to death. How they do this ... I'm not really sure. But for some reason, they both die. And since a unicorn killed her father, Beloved is determined to kill all the unicorns. Luckily she has an eternity to do this, since the piece of unicorn horn in her heart gives her immortality.Yeah, so ... I have a couple issues with this. 1) How the heck did a piece of the unicorn's horn break off just because it suddenly stood up? Its horn would have to be made out of clay or something in order for that to be physically possible. More likely, the unicorn would have just ripped Beloved open from the chest upward ... as gruesome as it sounds, but it's true. 2) Why is Beloved so bent on killing all the unicorns? Yeah, I understand that a unicorn killed her dad and that's very sad. But this was, like, hundreds of years ago and she's still not over it. Well, I understand it's become her life's purpose and she really has nothing better to do. But then, apparently, the unicorn horn in her heart physically pains her yet she's determined not to get it removed––not because she's afraid to die, she says, but because she won't rest until she kills all those rainbow-farting unicorns! This, I have more difficulty understanding. If she's really in that much pain, I don't think it's worth it. I mean, it's been centuries since a unicorn killed her father, and she's in constant horrible pain ... I think it's time for her to let it go. But maybe that's just me.Then, there's the main character, Cara. I didn't find her as likable as I remember. She's 12, but she talks like an adult. The only evidence of her being a child is that she cries pretty much all the time. Every time something bad happened, it's like, "And then Cara collapsed on the ground and cried until she threw up." Okay, not really. But she did burst into tears quite often––which I understand, but it did get a little repetitive.So, yeah. This is a toughie. I might read the fourth book just to find out how it ends; this one ended on a cliffhanger, as the other two did. These books are still entertaining and well-written, believability and main-character issues aside.