The Finding by R.E. Joyce is a young adult epic fantasy novel very much in the fashion of Tolkien. The story starts with Ariah, an adopt speaking horse who transforms into the unicorn she had always been but had not come to age yet. She then set off on an epic quest to stop the darkness that is trying to take over the world. She makes new friends and learns new things.
This novel has all the elements of traditional fantasy fiction that I love: magical creatures, elves, talking animals, and far away places. We meet tons of characters and sometimes it is hard to remember who everyone is, but R.E. Joyce has included a glossary in the back of the book if one gets confused. I do have to admit that it was hard for me to imagine where everyone was going all the time, but that is not uncommon for me in this type of epic quest book. There are at least two different satisfying love stories within this adventure, and many types of relationships develop. This is not one of those books in which there is conflict within the group of heroes at every corner. I found this refreshing. Instead, you see healthy dialogue and productivity growth in the characters.
I enjoyed this book as an adult, but I am aware that some adults would find this story beneath them or juvenile. Part of this would be because the book is very clean (no sex, no cursing, no questionable moral dilemmas, and no explicit violence). I also think that the lack of bickering, grittiness, and deception among the heroes would contribute to this point of view. I enjoyed the book because of these aspects which I have noticed others don’t appreciate in these kinds of books. I also feel very comfortable recommending this novel to the youngest teen readers of 11 or 12 years old.
The main reason that I did not give this book five stars on Amazon or Goodreads is that there is a bit of wandering around in the middle that loses momentum. Also, my confusion over separating out some of the characters with similar names caused some frustration. Some events also felt repetitive with events earlier in the story. This is being kind of picky, but it was disruptive enough to disrupt my interest in the story.
In general, though, it is a beautiful fantasy story that is both relaxing and fun. With short chapters and interesting chapters, I think it is very well-suited for young teens as an ideal audience.