"Year of the Unicorn" is my favorite Witch World novel among the many five-star novels in this series by Lifetime Grand Master of Fantasy, Andre Norton (Alice Mary North). Each setting, each character is illuminated with clear description and color, like scenes from a medieval Book of Hours. Even though I first read this book in 1965, I can still close my eyes and see Gillan and the ancient Dame Alousan gathering herbs in the high-walled garden of Norstead Abbey. I can see the twelve and one high-born maids riding forth from the Abbey - the twelve and one maids who were promised as brides to the Were-riders of the Waste.
The heroine, Gillan realizes that she is not meant for the quiet life of her vowed companions. She possesses a magic that is forbidden to the goodly Dames, and a restless curiosity that is stifled behind the stone walls of the Abbey. And so she rides forth, disguised as the bride who had threatened to kill herself rather than marry a Were-rider. In order to survive, Gillan must rely on her unschooled magic to separate illusion from reality, and true love from the snarling masks of the Were pack.
"Year of the Unicorn" is a grand adventure, a love story, a coming-of-age novel set like a jewel amidst the fantastical Dark and Light of Norton's Witch World. `Unicorn' veers away from the `mainstream' WW adventures of the Tregarth family ("Witch World", "Web of the Witch World", "Three Against the Witch World", etc.), but it is perfect in its own setting (the Wastes and Dales of High Hallack), and in its own right.