Book review

A Unicorn Dies: A Novel of Mystery and Ideas by Paul S. Fiddes

Have you ever wondered how to catch a unicorn? No? Me neither. But this is how the novel starts: Giles Questing, a young student sitting in the University Parks in Oxford, thinking about exactly this question. Which of the girls in the park could lure a unicorn into her lap while sitting under a tree?

Despite Giles' tendency to dreaminess and the official police report that the death of his friend's fiancé was suicide, he decides to investigate by himself. A series of six postcards with different pictures of unicorns lead him on his quest. Are the postcards telling a story? Can they help explain a suicide or murder?

With every journey he undertakes, Giles and the reader learn more about unicorns and what they could symbolise. The unicorn as a lover, as Christ, as both? Although he starts feeling hunted as well, Giles continues against all obstacles, driven by curiosity and love.

The story is catching until the end, and I not only enjoyed it very much but learned a lot. For example, I know now how the unicorn ended up in the King James Version of the Bible. I also want to visit all the places Giles went, to see the tapestries and art objects from the postcards in real life, because they were described so beautifully in this novel.

Just a warning: After reading this book you will start seeing unicorns everywhere, as I did at the beach in The Hague and the old church in Delft. But thanks to Paul S. Fiddes, I am seeing them now in a different light.

Birgit Leuppert


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