The Last Unicorn


Hello, Loyal Readers! Today I review another movie-novel tie in!

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THE BOOK:

Imagine my surprise at finding this film by Rankin Bass (known for their holiday stop motion specials of varying quality) used literary inspiration for the film. Yes, that’s right–the underground, animated classic from the ’80s was, in fact, based upon an novel–a 1968 novel.

It’s a story about an immortal unicorn who one day hears that she is last one left alive. Effectively an extinct species, she sets out to find what happened to her kin and undergoes a magical adventure with a wizard, a scullery maid, and a prince.

WHY I PICKED IT UP:

So I saw this movie again as an adult and, in reading about it online, I found it was based upon a book. I had to know what was different.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT IT:

Beagle uses a lot of really neat, abstract descriptions which allow you to imagine your own thing while lending an ethereal quality to his writing. Take this passage describing the eponymous unicorn:

“The Unicorn… was no longer the careless color of seafoam, but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night.”

And there are more where that came from. The more left brain among readers may find them off-putting, but I enjoyed the use of non-literal descriptors for a mythical animal.
After that, I liked the characters and I liked the premise as well.
I do wish I’d read the book before I saw the film–I feel some of the more impactful moments lost their punch because I knew the spoilers.

WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING:

The book has a looser feel than much modern fantasy–I believe everyone’s favorite line from this Medieval Fantasy is, “Have a taco.” I was informed this was basically Beagle saying, “fuck it; I’m tired,” while writing, then deciding later the line was funny and keeping it in.
While I wouldn’t go so far a to say I disliked these kind of bits, the aforementioned taco broke my fourth wall HARD like it was running through the middle of Berlin in 1989. Took me a few days and finding an explanation of the passage to get back into it.

 

Overall, I liked this book, read to the end, and I plan to keep it. You should check it out if you’re a fan of unicorns or fantasy in general.

Have you read The Last Unicorn? Well leave a comment and tell us what you think!

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