The Last Unicorn Review (2014 High Fantasy Challenge 5/10)

The Last Unicorn
The Last Unicorn

By: Peter S. Beagle
First published in 1968
Book 5/10 of my 2014 High Fantasy Challenge

A unicorn leans that she might be the last of her kind left in the world, and leaves her forest to find out what happened to the others.


I’ve been having a hard time writing this review, so I guess it will be a short one. I started reading the book in the beginning of August, then paused for a week or so while I took part in a read-a-thon. That pause definitely took me out of the world a bit. Also, the place where I paused in the book marked a big shift in the story. While in the first half of the book, the narrator had mostly been the unicorn, in the second half the narrating duties were left more to her human companions. And I wasn’t as interested or enchanted by the magician Schmendrick’s or the believer Molly Grue’s points of view as I was in the unicorn’s. I understand why, in that part of the book, we could no longer spend as much time in the unicorn’s head, but I still missed it.

One thing I have to say about this book is that the writing is gorgeous. It is absolutely enchanting, and evokes this feeling of being inside a fairytale. I bet this book would sound just lovely when read aloud. That sense of magic is most prevalent with the unicorn as the POV character.

Unlike perhaps many of you, I didn’t see the animated movie when I was a kid. I’ve only seen the movie once as an adult, so I didn’t have that lovely sense of childhood nostalgia at the back of my head when I was reading it. The main reason that my rating isn’t higher is probably still because of that pause in the middle, and so is mostly my own fault.

3 out of 5 stars.


Next up in the challenge
I’m officially halfway through the challenge now! So, I’m a bit behind, since I only have three months left. I am currently half-way through The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany, and hope to finish it soon.

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Review: Rebecca

A change from SFF for a while. Here is what I thought of the second book I read for July’s classic-themed #AYearAThon. See my review of Brave New World here.

Rebecca
Rebecca

By: Daphne du Maurier
Genre: Gothic literature classic
First published in 1938

Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again…

Rebecca is the story of a poor young woman who is working as a paid lady’s companion in Monaco, when she meets a rich older man, Maximiliam “Maxim” de Winter. After their marriage and honey moon, the two move back to his manor home, Manderley. Maxim’s previous wife, Rebecca, drowned about a year before in a boating accident, and her presence still hangs over the house like a shroud.

The story is told in the first person: our protagonist is looking back at her time in Manderley, and how she has changed from those times. The very beginning, that sense of looking back at a lost time, gives a sense of foreboding to the story. What will happen to get the characters to where they are now? The shadow of that knowledge hangs over the reader much like the shadow of Rebecca over the whole novel.

The protagonist is very timid and prone to daydreaming. She doesn’t know how to act with servants or what taking care of a large household entails, because she has not grown in that setting. While her timidness could at times get on my nerves, I tried to remember that she had never been taught to handle this kind of life – although at times her behaviour seemed more suited to a 14 year old than a 20-something (her hiding from servants reached ridiculous levels every now and then).

Our protagonist often daydreams about how the house & Maxim were like in Rebecca’s time. She is sure that Rebecca was much better than her at everything, and that Maxim loved Rebecca more. In a stroke of genius, the protagonist is never given a name, while the name of Rebecca is constantly repeated throughout the novel. This really helped to emphasize the past wife’s presence, and at the same time worked as a reminder of the main character’s feelings of worthlessness when compared to her.

The relationship between the main pair was something suiting a gothic novel; at times quite weird and unhealthy. Maxim tends to treat the main character like a kid, doesn’t tell her about his past life, but then gets angry if she makes a blunder and mentions something that she couldn’t have known was painful. She in turn is afraid of saying the wrong thing, so she watches what she says and feels almost relieved when her husband leaves for a trip. The reader is still supposed to believe that they are in love. So, like I said, weird and unhealthy.

The atmospheric writing in this book was off the charts! It was my favourite thing in the book. I felt like Manderley was a real place, like it was an actual character. Every time du Maurier describes the house, the garden, and the grounds, I could see everything in front of my eyes so clearly. I fell in love with it, a bit.

I give Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier 5 out of 5 stars.

Current Reads: Without A Summer

This post is linked at “WWW Wednesdays”, a weekly reading meme hosted by Should Be Reading. As usual, the book covers in this post link to GoodReads.

I just finished reading


Without A Summer
Without A Summer

(Glamourist Histories #3)
By: Mary Robinette Kowal
Genre: Regency fantasy / Fantasy of manners
First published in 2013

When Jane and Vincent receive a commission from a prominent family in London, they decide to take it, and take Jane’s sister Melody with them. They hope the change of scenery will do her good and her marriage prospects – and mood – will be brighter in London. Once there, talk is of nothing but the crop failures caused by the cold and increased unemployment of the coldmongers, which have provoked riots in several cities to the north. With each passing day, it’s more difficult to avoid getting embroiled in the intrigue, none of which really helps Melody’s chances for romance.

I just finished the book this morning, and it was my favourite of the series so far. The first book had its own kind of charm, while the second just fell a bit flat for me. This one had by far the strongest plot, although I was often squirming while reading it, since the villain was so offputting!

Last Week I Finished


Through The Woods Chroniques De Jerusalem
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll – 5/5 stars
Chroniques de Jérusalem by Guy Delisle – 3.5/5 stars

What is up next


The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Witches in Fantasy Books

Tough Traveling

Each Thursday, The Fantasy Review Barn uses Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and tours the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week’s tour topic is Witches. All the links for the books take you to GoodReads. The artwork is The Wyrd Sisters by Paul Kidby.

Wyrd Sisters artwork
1. Granny Weatherwax
From the Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett
This no-nonsense witch is the unspoken leader of her community of witches, and probably even the most powerful witch in Discworld. She’s awesome and I love her. She just might be my favourite witch in literature.

2. Tiffany Aching
From the Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett
Tiffany is the main character of her own series of YA witch novels set in Discworld. Through the books, she is learning how to be a witch, and growing into her role as the defender of her village.

3. Professor Minerva McGonagall
From the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
My favorite witch and teacher in the Harry Potter universe, Prof McGonagall is a seriously powerful witch who specialises in transfiguration. She also has a sense of humour, though it is often hidden behind the respectable veneer.

4. Courtney Crumrin
From the Courtney Crumrin graphic novel series, by Ted Naifeh
This loner kid doesn’t get the awards for being the most loving people person, but she does manage to save the day on multiple occasions. Despite her cynical attitude, Courtney is still often surprised by the unfairness and everyday, practical cruelty of adults.

5. The White Witch
From The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
An awesome, striking antagonist, the White Witch has made it eternal winter with no Christmas in Narnia. She also turns people into stone statues, so you wouldn’t want to mess with her. My favorite part from the book, animation, and BBC series as a kid was when the Witch conjures up the hot drink and Turkish Delights for Edmund.


There are some wonderful witches in fantasy. Those who didn’t quite make the list were Thessaly from the Sandman graphic novels, as well as Lettie Hatter and the Witch of the Waste from Howl’s Moving Castle. There must be tons of others whom I’m forgetting.

Waiting for Prudence

Prudence

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances — names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?


I loved Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, and now it’s time for the second generation to take over! I can’t wait to meet Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama, who just can’t be nothing but awesome with the three parents she has had raising her. It will be lovely to return to this world with its ladies, vampires, werewolves, and adventure with a sense of fun! I’ve also read the first book in Carriger’s Finishing School series, but didn’t like the YA thing as much as her adult novels, so I’m really looking forward to this one. Expected publication is March 17th, 2015.

This post is linked at Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme that tells us what books the blogosphere is most anxiously waiting for. It hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Top 10 Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From

Here is a list of authors from whom I’ve only read one book, but am excited to try more of their works.
I mention:
1) what I’ve read from the author,
2) why I loved that book, and
3) what book I would like to read from them next.

Some of these authors were also mentioned in an older post, Top 10 New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2013.

This post is linked at “Top Ten Tuesday”, a weekly book list meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. All the links below take you to GoodReads.

Maija’s Top 10 Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From, and Need to Read More

Throne of the Crescent Moon A Room with a View

1. Saladin Ahmed
Read: Throne of the Crescent Moon
Loved: The fun, old-school adventure fantasy feel
To Read: Engraved on the Eye, a short story collection

2. E. M. Forster
Read: A Room with a View
Loved: Everything about it: the characters, the plot, the romance…
To Read: Maurice

3. Raymond E. Feist
Read: The Magician
Loved: It’s been a while since I read this, I just remember I liked it – perhaps the main character & the magic?
To Read: The Riftwar Saga

4. Oscar Wilde
Read: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Loved: The lush descriptions, that air of decadence, the heavy themes, the snarky dialogue, Basil
To Read: The Importance of Being Earnest

5. Catherynne M. Valente
Read: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Loved: The fairy-tale like narrative voice
To Read: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

Rebecca All These Things I've Done

6. Jonathan Maberry
Read: Rot & Ruin
Loved: The characters, the zombie apocalypse, the questions raised about humanity
To Read: Dust & Decay

7. Rainbow Rowell
Read: Attachments
Loved: I actually didn’t really like this book, but I want to give her YA fiction a try
To Read: Fangirl

8. Victor Hugo
Read: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Loved: The question of morals, of good and evil, prevalent in all the characters, masterfully done in Frollo
To Read: Les Misérables

9. Daphne du Maurier
Read: Rebecca
Loved: The atmosphere was off the charts, loved the writing style!
To Read: Jamaica Inn

10. Gabrielle Zevin
Read: All These Things I’ve Done
Loved: The cold & guarded main character, that read-in-one-sitting fast-paced quality
To Read: Because It Is My Blood

My TBR Shelf

Let’s take a look into the books that I own but haven’t yet read! I have a page dedicated to that, Owned TBR, right here at this blog, and I try my best to keep it updated. You can always feel free to go there & comment & recommend me some books! I list both my unread ebooks as well as the physical ones there.

I also made a video where I go through all the physical books that are currently sitting on my shelves. The final count is 43 books.