A fantasy about a unicorn leaving her magical world in search of more of her kind.
Told in a fairy tale style, this lyrical and haunting fantasy about a unicorn leaving her magical world and searching the 'real' world for more of her kind is engaging.
The Last Unicorn (#1), Peter S. Beagle
Published 1968, 294 pages
“But she was a unicorn still, with a unicorn’s way of growing more beautiful in evil times and places. Even the breath of the toads that grumbled in the ditches and dead trees stopped when they saw her.”
An imaginative and touching story. A unicorn leaves the safety of her magical forest on a quest for others of her kind. In her travels she meets two strangers who try to help but also makes the disturbing discovery that people no longer recognize her as a unicorn. They believe she's a white horse! During her quest she encounters many unusual, sometimes scary people.
When she hears that a creature called Red Bull is herding unicorns she goes in search of him. She is aided by a bumbling magician (Schmendrick) and a spinster (Molly). When they encounter Red Bull and the unicorn cannot escape from him, Schmendrick, in a not-well-thought-out effort to save the unicorn from the monster, turns the unicorn into a human. She’s beautiful, naked, and doesn’t speak but now the monster has lost interest in it/her. However, she is terrified at her new mortality. They all take refuge at a King’s castle and kind, heroic Prince Lír falls in love with the woman (unicorn). Being a woman now, the unicorn starts to forget her real life. Is she destined to remain a human or can a way be found to return her to a unicorn?
The writing is just terrific. In general I really enjoy fantasy and this did not disappoint. If you like fantasy, animals, or just good storytelling with unusual characters you should like this book! It's a great book for kids or to read with your kids.
Are you familiar with this story? Did you read it as a child? Can you recommend a book that retells an old fairy tale or one that stretches your magical imagination?
photo by Terrie Purkey, Denny Creek (a magical forest!), WA