The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (Thoughts)
From the publisher’s website:
“The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam, but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea…”
When I was little, I loved the animated movie The Last Unicorn. Of course, I remember telling my parents that I greatly disliked it, but that was because it made me cry and cry and cry. Still, I watched our recorded-from-tv copy over and over again. Imagine my delight when, years later, I came across a battered copy of a book called The Last Unicorn and realized it was the original story the movie I had loved was based on? I was in High School at that time and gratefully lost myself in the unicorn’s world. A year or two passed and I read it again. And then again. And again. Honestly, I’m not sure how many times I’ve read it, but I do know that the last time I had read it was at least 5 years ago. Since then I’ve started reading lots more and a greater variety of books, and I was a bit worried that The Last Unicorn would now pale in comparison.
Really, I had nothing to worry about. I’m going to have to borrow Jenny’s Sparkly Snuggle Hearts tag for The Last Unicorn because oh boy do I love this book. But my love for The Last Unicorn has less to do with the story or the writing, which I do think are fantastic although I know are flawed. My love for it has more of a comfort, nostalgic quality to it. Just reading those opening sentences is like curling up in a warm blanket. A couple months ago my husband and I put together emergency (read: earthquake) survival packs, and the list we followed said to include “books, cards, items that make you feel comfortable.” I immediately thought of The Last Unicorn and this re-read has confirmed that it was the right choice.
If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, I’ll give you a brief plot summary. So, there’s the unicorn, who is apparently too old to have a name, who lives in her wood happy as can be, until she overhears some hunters saying that there are no more unicorns in the world, and that if there is indeed still one in this wood with eternal Spring, she is most certainly the last of her kind. This thought ruffles the otherwise calm and unconcerned unicorn. So, she leaves the safety of her wood in search of any kind of sign that there are still other unicorns in existence. During her travels she is joined by two humans – Schmendrick the Magician and Molly Grue – and together they embark on a journey in search of the vanished unicorns.
Of the two sidekicks, I love Schmendrick the most. He’s incompetent and sincere and can become irrationally snarky, with a vague promise that he’s destined for bigger and better things – all of which I related to as an adolescent. Who am I kidding, I still relate to all that. His line “We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream” is one of my most favourite things ever.
If you have held off on reading the book thinking that, like the movie, it’s for children, please don’t let that stop you. I wouldn’t classify it as Children’s Literature, honestly I’m not sure how to classify it, other than REALLY FANTASTIC. So, just read it, okay?
My rating: 10/10
If you had to choose one book for a survival pack, what you pick?