Astrid Llewellyn comes from a long line of the best unicorn hunters. When these venomous man-eating monsters reemerge from supposed extinction, the Cloisters in Rome, the traditional training ground for unicorn hunters, is reopened, and Astrid is sent reluctantly to fulfill her role in protecting humankind.
Rampant is thoroughly researched and plotted. Characterisation is excellent and there's much intrigue. The setting is rich and authentic. Much of the action takes place in Rome and there is a great sense of history and tradition, plus the attractions of gelato, fountains and Italian boys. I thoroughly enjoyed the antics of the little zhi, the house unicorn that is part pet, part training device. She's like a My Little Pony with fangs.
But overall I'm disappointed with Rampant. About halfway through I began to be frustrated by the sudden slowing of pace, Astrid going on dates rather than training for her calling, and her thorough dislike and negativity towards it. Reluctant heroes are interesting and often very relatable, but it got to the point where I felt that if Astrid doesn't care, why should I? The disorganisation of the Cloisters and the lack of training was critical to the story but meant that there was little driving the story forward except for the dates. I didn't buy Rampant to read about dating.
I also don't enjoy it when characters become a mouthpiece for the author's tastes. At one point there is a discussion of a particular sexual act that is neither inherently immoral nor dangerous, but is pronounced so by Astrid. (Pages 144-145.) The reaction, "Gross!", is exactly what you'd expect the characters to think, and it's amusing, but I'm disappointed Peterfreund couldn't just leave it at that.
Rampant was too slow. I had high hopes for it--perhaps too high, and I'm always harder on books that start brilliantly but fail to deliver.