The Unicorn Tree
In The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia Collins, 17-year-old Lisa Duncan misses her older brother, Matt, who’s one of the crew of the clipper ship Northern Star, embarking on a voyage across the Atlantic. She and her friends visit a 19th-century estate known as Mirabelle Manor, built by a 19th-century sea captain for his wife. Lisa is captivated by Mirabelle’s portrait－the eyes seem alive, following her every move. Lisa also experiences several weird events during her tour. She has the opportunity to read a copy of Mirabelle’s diary and feels the connection to her as Mirabelle coped with her husband’s absence when he was at sea. Lisa’s also determined to find Mirabelle’s unicorn tree where one can watch for ships.
The Unicorn Tree is a charming story. It’s a slightly different YA read－the teenage angst is definitely there but it’s combined with mystery, suspense, and even some mystical elements, giving the story a solid depth. With a clean and articulate narrative, the plot has a very nice flow from start to finish. Characterization as a whole is nicely done. When we’re introduced to Lisa, it’s apparent that her summer will be interesting the moment she sees the mysterious young woman on the day her brother went off to sea. As the story progresses, Lisa’s reality and Mirabelle’s days in the past start becoming more parallel and the anticipation of what’s to come is enthralling, particularly when there’s troubling news about the Northern Star. On the whole, this is a great read from Cynthia Collins that reaches readers of all ages. — Lit Amri for Readers’ Favorite
The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia Collins is a great novel for a younger audience that teaches readers how to deal with absence. Lisa’s life is about to change. She’s a senior in high school and exploring college. Her brother is part of the crew of a clipper called the Northern Star for the summer. She has to do a paper on the historical Mirabelle Manor. The more she learns about the manor, the more it parallels to her life. Mirabelle was an original owner of the manor, married to Captain Hutchings. Mirabelle would wait for weeks to receive letters about her husband’s welfare, using her status to comfort the other families of the crew. When the Northern Star becomes lost at sea, Lisa finds solace in the journal of Mirabelle, using her experiences to find comfort as she waits for news of her brother. Through the connection she feels with the late owner, she’s able to process her own fear and find hope.
The Unicorn Tree is the perfect comfort for juvenile readers who have a parent or relative away on a dangerous job. It gives them something to relate to. Lisa pushes people away, but she stays strong for her parents and uses the manor as comfort. Cynthia Collins gives younger readers someone who knows what they’re going through. Lisa’s brother is lost at sea in a hurricane. This situation can easily be applied to someone at war, in the navy, going into a hurricane to help those in need, or any other risk taking job. It can be hard for people to work through fear and it can feel like no one else understands. The Unicorn Tree is that understanding. It’s a comforting novel that’s real, heartfelt, and a little bit mystical. A must-read! — Liz Konkel for Readers’ Favorite
“I am impressed and moved by how well you’ve captured not only facts/reality about maritime history and life, but also the interior life of people actually involved, on shore and on the water.” — Laura Pires-Hester, Ph.D., Vice-Chair of Schooner Ernestina Commission
“The Unicorn Tree is a remarkable achievement… I kept reading, not just because I had to, but because I wanted to. It’s a real page turner.” — Barbara Stretton, author of the Tori Trotter Mysteries
“This is a fascinating book, for high schoolers as well as adults! Cynthia Collins weaves history with both suspense and mystery, skillfully building a story within a story. …a must-read for any high school student.” — Robin Tidwell, author
“Cynthia Collins’ The Unicorn Tree is not your typical Young Adult book fare. Very well-written, it combines history, teenage angst, family crisis, and the occult in a wonderful blend that keeps the pages turning. An added plus is you will learn a lot about nautical terms and how old ships work. In short, I highly recommend it!” — S. R. Mallery, author
“I have enjoyed The Unicorn Tree immensely. I loved all the characters, the weave of centuries, the presence of Mirabelle Manor and the shore… You have mastered all your details and carried me through the experience while always holding my attention.” —Lee Gruzen, writer and editor, Ship Lore and Model Club of the Port of New York
“The Unicorn Tree blends history with coming of age. Full of angst because her brother was lost at sea, a teenage girl discovers an old and fascinating journal. Her suspenseful search to unravel truth weaves history into her adventure. Author Cynthia Collins has penned a delightful story that any age can enjoy. I highly recommend The Unicorn Tree to all.” —Kathleen Rowland, author
“An old manor, a curious journal, family crisis and suspense – a great plot. A book for teenagers and adults alike. A recommended read.” —Diane Major, author
“The lines move with a tempo of suspense. Well researched and believable. Wonderful plot and characters that come alive. A good read.” —D. A. Ramirez, author