Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The Phoebe and Her Unicorn series collects newspaper strips written and drawn by Dana Simpson. This sixth volume is different; it features one long story specially written for this book, a complete graphic novel. The newspaper strips that are usually published as a single horizontal group of four panels are reconfigured into a squarer two-by-two shape to fit these paperbacks, so there’s not a big visual difference between this book of all-new content and the usual style. It does allow for a lot more big panels and splash pages, although the simple drawings don’t really fill that extra space in a more exciting way, but the longer continued story is a much better fit for Simpson’s style of storytelling. Without the pressure to have a punchline on every page, she can allow the plot to do the work of pulling the reader through the narrative. The observational dialogue works much better as just a part of the reading experience rather than trying to shape the action to end with a quip.
With more space for details, we see where Phoebe goes to school and meet an entire classroom of children, some of whom are actually different races, before school ends early due to an ice storm. It plunges the whole area into darkness when the power goes out for everyone. It’s not a normal occurrence, and Marigold the unicorn knows there is a supernatural force at work because all the background magic which she and the other enchanted creatures rely on to cast their spells, has been cut off. There’s no magic anywhere!
Phoebe has to enlist both Dakota with her goblins and Max, her self-professed science-nerd friend, to help her find out who or what is soaking up all the magical and electrical power in the area, and get them both restored for the whole community. The solution to this mystery seems like it could change the whole dynamic of this series. It probably won’t, but readers can see for themselves in the next collection: Unicorn of Many Hats. This story is also found in the Two-Books-In-One collection The Sparking Stories of Phoebe and her Unicorn, and in the box set The Shimmering Box of Unicorn Sparkles.