Warning: This review will probably (definitely) contain spoilers for Space Unicorn Blues.
A necromancer, a unicorn, and a space captain walk into a bar. Okay, so that doesn’t exactly set up the novel Five Unicorn Flush. But all of those people are there, and there is a bar. Multiple bars in fact. Some are metal and hurt if you walk into them. Others are more friendly with drinks and games. But anyway, since the end of Space Unicorn Blues, the Bala have found a new planet. Only now they have to work at making it habitable for all the beings and creatures. And woe is all! No technology! How will anyone catch up on the latest shows or play the latest games? At least we can all go swimming in the river. (But actually, don’t. The water in that river is highly acidic.) Meanwhile, Cpt Jenny Fucking Perata (What? I swear that’s her real name. Okay…maybe that’s not her real middle name) is on the FTL (Faster-Than-Light) Stagecoach Mary in search of the new Bala planet. She wants to find her wife, Kaila the dryad. Oh, and there’s also Bào Zhú on the FTL Kilanova. It’s heading toward the planet too in order to recapture the Bala. And well, Bào isn’t about that life, so he disguises himself as Kevin Chen the necromancer so that he can hopefully throw them off course.
If you liked the first book, you’ll love this one. I think the highlights for me were the interactions between the characters (and also just the characters themselves). There was sarcasm, wit, sadness, joy…and everything in between. Mary has to take the cake for being such a great AI character. (I’d also like to offer some cake to Well Actually because the food on that ship is…something else.) There’s a part near the beginning where Jenny decides to board the aforementioned Well Actually to potentially steal some unicorn horn that might be on board. Through these scenes, we really get an idea of who she is: stubborn but willing to do whatever it takes to reach her SO. She’s the embodiment of, “What were you thinking?! I’m glad you’re on my side!” Let’s just say things don’t exactly go smoothly on the ship. Then there’s Gary who’s just trying to help rebuild a peaceful new Bala planet — only some Bala seem to be disappearing in the forest recently. And it doesn’t help that there might be a civil war brewing. And Bào just wants some rest after pretending to be a 22-year-old; his bones aren’t what they used to be. But he’ll be damned if he doesn’t try everything to stop the Kilanova from reaching its final destination.
I only had a couple of minor issues. I personally found some of the flashback jumps a bit jarring. I’d blink and then realize we’re in the past. I also wish the ending was a touch more drawn out. It just seemed like all of a sudden everything happened at once. (Though to be fair, there are little hints and clues scattered throughout the novel.) Regardless, I really hope there’s a third book because that’s what this ending suggests.
Five Unicorn Flush is a must read sequel. It has charm, sass, poignancy, and unicorns (obviously). It has representation for LGBT+, people with disabilities, and there’s even a part acknowledging those with mental health issues. It’s a book that’s incredibly hard to put down once you’ve picked it up. Anyway, a necromancer, unicorn, and space captain walk into a bar: Ouch.
(We received a review copy from Angry Robots in exchange for an honest review.)