"There has never been a world in which I was not known."
How do you write a review of your favorite book since childhood? How do you review a book that is such a part of you that you don't ever remember not knowing it? How do you express in words how much a book has impacted your life? This is the book that I have turned to in the darkest times of my life, when I needed solace and comfort. I would call this my guilty pleasure, but I have no guilt over this book. I unabashedly adore it.
The Last Unicorn sounds like it would be the title of the girliest book of all time - something full of rainbows, fairy princesses and butterflies. Well, there are a couple of princesses, and there is a talking butterfly, but this isn't your typical fairy tale. This is a fairy tale in the vein of The Princess Bride or Stardust - a little bit fractured.
This is the story of the Unicorn who is quite content to live out her immortal life in her forest forever while contemplating how beautiful she is. One day she overhears two huntsmen saying that Unicorns are long gone, if they ever existed at all. The Unicorn decides to step out into the world and determine if she truly is the last, or if the others are in hiding. On her journey, she encounters an incompetent magician, a feisty spinster, an evil king, and the obligatory handsome prince.
While the story is fine for children to read, a lot of the themes are very adult. It is a bittersweet tale, and when I was little, the end would always make me cry. Of course it's hard to find a Peter Beagle novel that won't make you cry.
"As for you and your heart and the things you said and didn't say, she will remember them all when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits."
Best line ever written.
In the last few years, Beagle published a sequel novella, Two Hearts. It is simply beautiful. If you enjoyed The Last Unicorn, you should definitely read Two Hearts. Also, if you ever get a chance to go to a Peter Beagle book reading, cancel all other plans and go. He is extremely nice.