Offbeat Unicorn

For those who like unicorns with sharp hooves and mystery

Genre: Children’s Nature Mockumentary, Horse Book

Age: 8-98

For anyone who has read guides to pony care, horseback riding, and equine breeds, this is the book for you! If you know an eight-year-old girl who loves horses, you should get this for her NOW!

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This image doesn’t quite capture the shiny silver! Wheee!

Seraphini and Robin successfully use the conventions of children’s non-fiction nature books to create a convincing (if tongue in cheek) guide to unicorns. The book provides a biological overview (evolution, horn physiology, magical properties, life cycle), an overview of unicorns in legend, and, most inventively, a history of famous (and diverse!) unicornologists.

The illustrations are a delightful blend of cartoon and scientific diagram. My favourite section has to be the double spreads devoted to species, ranging from the Icelandic Volcanic Unicorn (ridged horn, eats pine resin) to the Nepalese Mountain Unicorn whose hair-infused soup helps hermits live 600 years. But who wouldn’t love to pore over the illustration of different horn-types, whether pearlescent or smooth?


This page nicely demonstrates the balance of whimsical illustration and “serious” scientific description. 

Though The Secret Lives of Unicorns touches on the history of unicorn legends, from Odin’s messenger Sleipnir and the Qilin of Ancient China, the book wears this heritage lightly.

In style, it’s reminiscent of Graeme Base’s lovely The Discovery of Dragons (1996) and to a lesser extent, Dugald Steer’s entertaining Dragonology (2003) and Wizardology (2005). Lovers of mythological creatures and those eager to suspend their disbelief will heartily enjoy The Secret Lives of Unicorns.

Buy this amazing book here.


Another reason why I love this book…each page has tiny, detailed illustrations which celebrate unicorn love!

One thought on “The Secret Lives of Unicorns by Dr. Temisa Seraphini and Sophie Robin. New York: Flying Eye Books, 2019.

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