Beware of the Killer Unicorns! 4.5 stars!There I was, dancing with glee. I won a book about killer unicorns! Killer Unicorns, of all things, in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. When you think of unicorns, what do you think of? Do you think of majestic beasts, full of magic, sparkles, and rainbows? Or do you think of blood-thirsty, fanged, poisonous creatures that enjoy killing? If you chose the latter, well, those are the unicorns you’ll find in Ascendant.Ascendant takes place in our world, except there is an infestation of killer unicorns terrorizing humanity and other smaller creatures. A small dedicated group of unicorn hunters are dispatched to deal with this menace. Theirs is a dangerous job, a thankless job, a job that requires virginity. Ascendant is the second book of Diana Peterfreund’s Killer Unicorn series. It continues the story of Astrid and her band of virginal unicorn hunters. The girls are known as the Order of the Lioness and they live in Rome in the Cloisters. The hunters share a special magical and telepathic connection with the beasts. They are able to sense the unicorns, their thoughts, and feelings. Astrid is able to calm unicorns. The magic lasts as long as the girls remain virgins.Astrid has hopes and dreams of her own. She wants to have an education. She wants to study science and become a doctor. When Astrid is offered a chance to do just that by Isabeau at the Gordian Company, she jumps at the chance. Astrid’s duty was to tend to a herd of unicorns. As this is a young adult book, there is one overriding theme – the absence of a parent. Yes, Astrid’s mother is mentioned, but all she does is long distance parent. Astrid’s mother seems to be a talent agent rather than a mother, seeking ways to make money from her daughter’s skill. When Astrid goes to work for Isabeau, Isabeau becomes a surrogate mother. But again, Isabeau was using Astrid for her unicorn wrangling skills.I have read many young adult books this year, but this book was by far one of the best. First of all, the story – Killer Unicorns – How original is that? If you go to the author’s website http://www.dianapeterfreund.com/books/unicorns/research/ she has a whole section on unicorn research. Absolutely fascinating! Second, there are some interesting themes involved in this book – environmentalism and animal testing. Is it OK to kill off an entire species? Can we kill a few animals in order to create an antidote to their venom? If you are tired of reading about vampires, werewolves and zombies, then why not try a book about killer unicorns? I’m going to find book 1 – Rampant and immerse myself in the world of killer unicorns.