Secret of the Unicorn, Chapter 9: Help Me Help You Help Me Help You

(If you have the original edition, this is the first two-thirds of Chapter 7.)

Seriously, I think it’s that time of the month for Emily. Yesterday she was feeling crampy, and today … well, she’s downright irritable.

Emily picks at her oatmeal cereal during breakfast, preoccupied with figuring out how to heal Lorelei and making a new Protection from Evil dreamcatcher for the Ravenswood portal. She tries to ask Dr. Fletcher what’s the best way to heal animals, but her mother only tells Emily stuff she already knows: animals can’t perceive that there’s a future, so you have to provide a soothing environment. And then this segues into a lecture on how irresponsible Emily was yesterday. Apparently Emily didn’t clean up after the kibble explosion, and Rachael, the vet assistant we haven’t heard from since Book 1 Dr. Fletcher had to return one of the kennel dogs to his owners.

Dr. Fletcher tells Emily to adapt and make time for all her activities — which, of course doesn’t go over well with Emily. Emily basically tells her mother that she just buries herself in work and doesn’t try to make time for herself, and cites that as the reason why she got divorced. She then storms off.

There is a funny continuity error here in the original edition: Emily’s eating oatmeal, but when she knocks over her bowl at the end of the scene, a bunch of Cheerios spills out.

Anyway, Emily arrives at Ravenswood and runs into Gran, who we haven’t seen since Book 1. In the original edition, Gran immediately senses that Emily’s kinda pissy; in the new edition, she talks to herself about gardening before noticing Emily:

The old woman clipped several magnificent yellow and red roses, carefully settling them in her bag, then held up her pruning shears. “Nurturing, care, and love.”


“To flourish and blossom, it takes more than peat moss and plant food.”


Emily asks Gran about healing animals, and surprisingly, Gran gives some good advice. She says that everyone needs different things in order to heal: some need physical healing, and others require spiritual healing, but those who need both are the most difficult to treat. To illustrate this, she draws a cross in the dirt. For those of you who read the original edition — or have been following along with this blog — you’ll recognize this as one of the symbols used in the Generic Fantasy Prophecy. So obviously, Emily’s the one who “sees in darkness”….

Emily takes Gran’s advice to heart, and runs off to the portal field to join the rest of the party. In the new edition, she also resolves to heal Lorelei:

Emily watched the autumn colors dance through the forests, a bold display before winter’s gray grip took hold. Why was it her burden to feel so much pain and loss? How was she supposed to handle it? It took only one image of the wounded Lorelei in her mind to bolster her resolve. She was a healer and one thing she could never do was give up, no matter how difficult things may seem. She took a deep breath and braced herself for what lay ahead.

EDIT: Changes in the e-book edition

  • Ravenswood Manor is over 200 years old.

Next time: Kara makes spaghetti for everyone!



  1. I like autumn, so I like that the new edition adds more references to the autumn environment.

    Wouldn’t it have been a good novelty if Emily decided to just stop hiding and show some magic to her mother, explaining how she has more important duties now? Seriously, if I ever write an urban fantasy novel I’m doing it like that.

    I wonder if the publisher of these books would allow it if it was suggested Emily was cranky because she was having her full stop? I almost never see that brought up in English-language fiction (the only exceptions I can remember are Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers and Clive Barker’s Weaveworld).

    1. I never understood why none of the main characters bothered to show anyone else that magic exists. Adriane’s grandmother already seems to know about magic, and Emily’s mother would probably accept the existence of magic if she saw Emily cast Heal. Not sure about Kara’s family, but they never seem to pay attention to her, so I don’t think they’d care.

      I’ve seen “that time of month” mentioned occasionally in books. I think it was a small plot point in one of the Song of the Lioness books. I don’t think publishers would let such references appear in books aimed for children, though.

  2. I think this would be important to talk about a bit more in books, but I suppose it’s still really uncomfortable for some people. Anyway, I need to get around to reading Song of the Lioness sometime after it or another one of Tamora Pierce’s series was recommended to me as a good story involving rebellion against an oppressive regime.

    Yeah, s much time is wasted for these characters when they have to hide all of their magic shenanigans.

    1. Was the book Trickster’s Choice? I’ve been meaning to read that for a long time now. Is it any good?

      Also, Song of the Lioness comes highly recommended from me. It was the first fantasy series I really got into.

      1. Oh, wonderful! I’ll look for it then.

        I don’t remember what it was exactly. I just keep thinking it was Song of the Lioness that was recommended, but all I remember is that Tamora Pierce was the author.

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