Title: The Unicorn Sonata.
Author: Peter S. Beagle.
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, children's lit.
Publication Date: 1996
Summary: A misfit 13-year-old girl, Joey Rivera, hears mysterious music and encounters an even more mysterious boy who calls himself Indigo. Thus begins a quest that leads Joey to the faerie land of Shei'rah, source of the music and home of the Old Ones, unicorns who are menaced by blindness.
My rating: 7/10
♥ She took a step after him, beginning to ask, "You want me to come in tomorrow?" and halted, because the music was there again...
...faraway now, somehow as much in time as in distance, a sound with a smell to it, a green and dark smell, and apples, and great feathers warm in sunshine. The melody soars and demands, then drops away downwind like a kite; now as close as my own breathing, now so distant I have to listen with my skin, not my ears. Where is it, where is it? I have to go there.
♥ It was the music that kept her from being frightened. The music was everywhere now, distinctly closer, yet still impossible to pin down to any one location. It surged and softened continually, even here, joyous and irresponsible, seeming to bubble out of stones, like the voice of a sprig; to chirp up from grass and earth, like insect fiddling; to tumble down upon her like rain. Putting everything else off but the music, to be reacted to and dealt with later, she cast about quickly, making several false starts, and finally decided to move toward the open meadow, away from the trees. I'll hear it better there, zero in on it. I'll find it. It wants me to find it.
♥ The road rose and fell with the hills as they walked, but even so it was easier going than the woodland had been. The sky was so intensely blue that Joey could hardly bear to look up: she thought she might begin falling upward if she did that, tumbling into the sky forever.
♥ "Dreams," she said. "There is a legend among us that we of Shei'rah dreamed your world into being. I doubt that this is so, but we Eldest do spend more time thinking of humans and marveling at them than you will ever know. Perhaps Shei'rah is bound to your world merely by our endless fascination with it. I cannot explain it, but it must be so. Why else would we be able to take the forms of human beings and nothing else? We are what we are forever, unchanging - you are everything all at once, past and present and future all rioting together. I pity you terribly, I could never bear to be like you, but I wonder and wonder about you."
Joey started to speak, changed her mind three times, and managed at last to mumble, "It's not so awful for you being blind, is it? I mean, you all get around fine - nobody'd ever know, except maybe for that stuff on your eyes."
"Moving from one place to another without bumping into a tree is not everything," the Princess Lisha replied quietly. "It lessens us, living forever among shadows. We are simpler creatures than humans, in some ways. We were meant to see the world around us, to see it deeply and closely, not to imagine it, not to eavesdrop on it, not to trace it in our minds. Your folk have learned to live with many kinds of blindness, I think, and still somehow remain yourselves. We are not so fortunate, we Eldest."
♥ And that is how Joey came back to Shei'rah, burying her face against the arched neck of a prancing unicorn, and filling her ears with the deep, warmly raucous laughter of a creature half-human and half-goat, who called to her, "Welcome home, daughter! Welcome home!" And the music of Shei'rah leaped and exulted with him.
♥ So he coaxed her, teased her, cajoled her, drove her on until at surprising last she began to see Fireez looking back at her through the grubby prison bars of the staff lines, and to feel the laughter of the brook-jalla in her fingers when she scribbled a flurry of grace notes. I might be getting it, Shei'rah. Abuelita, I really might be getting it right.
When she ventured to say this to John Papas, he looked at her for a long time before he answered, his voice surprisingly gentle. "Nah, it's never right, Josephine Angelina Rivera. This world, that world, doesn't matter. You never make people to see what you see, hear, feel what you feel. Notes don't do it, words don't do it, paints, bronze, marble, nothing. All you can do, you maybe get it a little close, a little closer. But right, like you're talking? No. No."