Year of the Unicorn Critical Context - Essay

Andre Norton

Critical Context

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Year of the Unicorn was Andre Norton’s third book set on the Witch World, following Witch World (1963) and Web of the Witch World (1964). This novel differs from the first two because it is not a direct sequel. Norton explores the same themes, however, of self-discovery and being an outcast in each of these novels and in most of her other works, including the direct sequel to Year of the Unicorn, The Jargood Pard (1974).

Year of the Unicorn is also important for its strong female protagonist, another characteristic of Norton’s books. At the time it was written, science fiction was heavily male-dominated, and few female writers had found a place in the genre. Norton gave female readers, as well as male readers, a place to start and brought many readers and writers into the field. Her influence has been compared to that of Robert Heinlein, and many female authors give her credit. In 1985, Susan Schwartz edited a collection called Moonsinger’s Friends: An Anthology in Honor of Andre Norton in which she and other authors talked about Norton’s influence.

Norton has written more than a hundred books that are read and enjoyed by readers of all ages. She continues to write novels about the Witch World and continues to explore the important themes of self-discovery and finding a place in society.