The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
|Book Name:||The Last Unicorn|
|Author:||Peter S. Beagle|
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Paperback / Audio Book|
In a forest that time wouldn’t touch, was a creature who would live forever. A creature of immortal beauty and purity: a unicorn. She spent her days admiring her own loveliness and watching as the curious creatures in her forest went about their short and frantic lives. Time meant nothing to her, and the outside world was merely a dream inside the eternal spring of her forest. That was, until one day two hunters passed through searching for game, but found none. The first warned the second that they should hunt elsewhere, as this was the home of a unicorn. The second scoffed at his friend, saying there were no unicorns, they were myths that mothers told their children at bedtime, nothing more. But the first insisted that here, in this forest, was the last.
The unicorn had seen men before and listened to their stories as they traveled through her wood, but never before had she been called the last. Could it really be that she was alone in the world? That the rest of her kind had disappeared from the earth? The conversation haunted. She decided she must find out for herself. She needed to discover if she truly was the last.
She sets out into the world alone, appearing to all who see her as nothing more than a beautiful white mare. But then her path is crossed by two people who know what she truly is. The first was Schmendrick, a bumbling magician trying desperately to come into his magical talents. The second is Molly Grue, a simple peasant woman who had been waiting to see a unicorn her whole life. Together the three travel over hills and valleys looking for the others wherever they may be.
Their journey takes them into the barren country of the wicked King Haggard, whose castle holds both a curse and a secret. Will they be able to learn the whereabouts of her people before they are discovered? Or will they succumb to the curse themselves?
– – –
This is one of my favorite stories ever. It was the first fantasy book I ever read, though I had watched the movie many times before. The Last Unicorn is unique among the books I’ve read, as the main character isn’t human or even humanoid, nor does she have a name until almost halfway through the book. But the thing that amazes me every time I read this book is the prose. The way Mr. Beagle puts words together is enchanting. The sentences flowing into paragraphs are as close to poetry as you can get without actually writing a poem. But the descriptions are not out of place nor too flowery either. They just feel right and add a touch of magic to even the mundane parts of the story.
The world that this book takes place in is our world, specifically Robin Hood’s Europe. But there is real magic here and real magical beasts. The people of the world believe in them, though these creatures are almost never seen anymore and are starting to fade into fairy tales. It seems as though this may be the last generation to treat the supernatural as truth rather than myth. That gives the story a very grounded feel and makes the disappearance of the unicorns that much more upsetting.
I had a hard time writing this review, as I love this story so much. While trying not to talk your ears off or go all fangirl on this book is tricky, not giving away the story is even harder. I would do a disservice to you if I mentioned some of my favorite parts or quoted the poem that cursed the king’s castle. So in favor of letting you discover this story on your own, I will leave you with this. The Last Unicorn is a very unique dark fairy tale, the likes of which I think have yet to be written. If you enjoy fantasy, a good story, and beautiful prose, read this book. You will not be disappointed.
Also, if you have the means to watch the movie I would highly suggest it as well. The screenplay was written by Peter S. Beagle and follows very closely to the book. I would just add here, that even though it is a cartoon it is not for young children. There are some rather scary scenes and I would caution parents to watch it first and see whether their kids would mind the darker parts. I didn’t mind them, but I was a very odd child. Not that you couldn’t have guessed that part.