Keras by Simon Rae

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Keras by Simon Rae

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: A young boy discovers a unicorn in the woods near his home and tries to keep it secret.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: February 2013
Publisher: David Fickling Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780857560346

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Ever since reading The Enchanted Wood as I child, I always enjoyed stories about children who had the freedom to explore the world and go off finding adventures, unencumbered by the protective restrictions that most children face. Fantasy indeed, but this kind of world without limits often produces the most imaginative and memorable childhood tales.

It was with great enthusiasm, therefore, that I began reading Keras, the story of an 11 year old boy called Jack who discovers a unicorn in the woods near his home. The premise was full of potential and I was eager to see how the story would unfold.

After meeting the unicorn, Jack is befriended by the enigmatic Mr Finistaire, a rich bachelor who lives in a grand house called Charnley. Unlike most adults, Mr Finistaire believes in unicorns and is most keen to find out what Jack knows in order to ‘protect’ this rare creature. But can Mr Finistaire be trusted? Evidently Jack’s parents think so, as they are quite happy to let him wander around the estate on his own and even spend a night at the old man’s house. Clearly the unicorn is not the most incredulous element in this book...

Unfortunately, what follows is a rather predictable tale, embellished with copious amounts of padding that left me bored at times. Occasionally there is a glimmer of impending excitement, such as the scene where Jack discovers a hidden room at Charnley, and a few intermittent chase sequences to liven things up, but such scenes are too few and far between to make this book a page-turner.

Sadly, one of the most interesting story arcs, the fate of a star-crossed couple pictured on a tapestry and a locket given to Jack by Keras does not lead to a satisfactory conclusion. I hoped for a huge revelation about the identity of the pair and their significance to the story, but was left disappointed. Likewise, there is a wonderfully mysterious character called Sefton who I wish had played a bigger part in the story. He is given a rich back story but then unfortunately seems to melt away into the background.

Keras has all the ingredients of a great kid’s book; strong characters, a fantasy element, a likeable lead and elements of freedom, adventure and danger. Unfortunately the book never seems to reach its potential and the result is a run of the mill children’s story which doesn’t quite live up to expectations.

Painting Unicorns in Watercolour by Rebecca Balchin is a wonderful book exploring the beauty and history of the mythical unicorn.

Buy Keras by Simon Rae at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Keras by Simon Rae at

Buy Keras by Simon Rae at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Keras by Simon Rae at


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