I fell in love with this enchanting and tragic story long before I found the fantasy genre and dove into its spring of beguiling tales. First, I heard The Last Unicorn on audio book then later bought a copy and have read it several times since. Each read, the enchantment begins from the first paragraph where Mr. Beagle describes the unicorn in lovely and unique detail. It enraptures me all the way to the exquisitely heartbreakingly, beautiful ending, which I won’t ruin for those who haven’t read it.
Mr. Beagle paints such unique and deep characters that draw you in with their hearts that seek accomplishment and belonging and their flaws that are so very human and yet as epic as any fantasy could want. Schmendrick the Magician, cursed with immortality until he can find the true magic within himself; Molly Grue, who possess a fondness for the legendary and all the dreams that escaped her in youth; King Haggard, who will stop at nothing to recapture the beauty of a single moment long ago; Prince Lir, the boy turned hero for love of an unlikely young woman; and of course, the unicorn, who quests for others like herself that the whole world has forgotten. All these are so vividly drawn in my mind that they live and breathe and inspire my own forays into tale-telling and greatly influence my books.
Ever curious about how and why things work, I must ask the question: why? Why does this tale, of all the thousands of stories out there, resonate with me so much? Why does the tale you picked speak to you so profoundly?
Growing up, I rented Disney’s Sleeping Beauty more than any other film. Others in my movie collection included: Beauty and the Beast, Rigaletto, and Aladdin. Needless to say, a certain type of story appealed to me, one with a beautiful damsel, an unlikely hero, nefarious opponents usually wielding magic, and a tale that looked to the heart. I loved the romance and the idea of a man loving a woman so deeply that he would fight to the death for her, give up his life for her, and yet she was the key to his salvation.
The idealist in me still loves these things; though, in my own creations and readings, plots containing these elements have grown more complex and harrowing. These days, I prefer to see these elements rise from darker more desperate circumstances. The hope, wonder, and love found in an enchanted rose and an inventor’s daughter, in a young girl who sees beyond appearances, or in the Red Bull’s terrifying presence reminds me that, even in the hardest part of my life, even in the ugliest places there is hope for goodness. And even beyond the wonder and escape stories provide, that is the biggest reason I read.
So what is the story that has most captured your heart? Why does it resonate with you so much?