Book Review: THE LAST UNICORN by Peter S. Beagle

Then he stopped suddenly and said in a strange voice, “No, no, listen, don’t listen to me, listen. You can find your people if you are brave. They passed down all the roads long ago, and the Red Bull ran close behind them and covered their footprints.”

I have fond memories of the movie based off of this book, watched several times when I was a child. Of note to me was how closely the movie follows the book as compared to current book-to-screen adaptations (perhaps because of its shorter length, but also likely thanks to the author also writing the screenplay). And the movie’s soundtrack – the music moves me to this day!

“Do you know what I am, butterfly?” the unicorn asked hopefully, and he replied, “Excellent well, you’re a fishmonger. You’re my everything, you are my sunshine, you are old and gray and full of sleep, you’re my pickle-face, consumptive Mary Jane.” He paused, fluttering his wings against the wind, and added conversationally, “Your name is a golden bell hung in my heart. I would break my body to pieces to call you once by your name.”

“Say my name, then,” the unicorn begged him. “If you know my name, tell it to me.”

“Rumpelstiltskin,” the butterfly answered happily. “Gotcha!”

I liked the book well enough. The writing was certainly poetic and lovely, the unicorn remains a sort of tragic fairy tale heroine, but tragic only through the lens of a silly mortal. Humorous at times, the story also has deep messages about mortality, joy, beauty, and the overall fleeting nature of human experience. Here seems like a good place to mention that I think King Haggard is a seriously underrated character in classic fantasy!

“They are nothing to me,” King Haggard said. “I have known them all, and they have not made me happy. I will keep nothing near me that does not make me happy.”

It’s hard to say what I would have thought of this book without the associations of my fond recollections of watching the movie as a child, but really a middle of the road 3 stars seems apt. I appreciated some aspects of the fairytale and the language, other parts of the book were a miss with me. I couldn’t always account for the characters and their behavior, or why everyone else seems to love the roving outlaw part while I just found it kind of annoying.

But did I mention Haggard?

“I suppose I was young when I first saw them,” King Haggard said. “Now I must be old–at least I have picked many more things up than I had then, and put them all down again. But I always knew that nothing was worth the investment of my heart, because nothing lasts, and I was right, and so I was always old.”

Not a favorite of mine, but a solid read. And you know what, from the sheer quotability I’m finding as I write this review, I’m going to go ahead and award a fourth star out of five.

“I have been mortal, and some part of me is mortal yet. I am full of tears and hunger and the fear of death, though I cannot weep, and I want nothing, and I cannot die. I am not like the others now, for no unicorn was ever born who could regret, but I do. I regret.”


I recently read A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. My good friend Court saw the cover and remarked, “Hey, that book is about me!” You know, since his name is in the title. I agreed, saying it was a biography about him. “You know, not so much with the wings, but a whole lot of ruin.” In response to which he quipped, “Little Wings, Big Ruin.”

I’m sharing this just because it makes me giggle, and maybe you’ll giggle too. “Little Wings, Big Ruin: The Memoirs of Court Chapman*”.

*To protect his identity, I have changed his name. You know, just his last name. Obviously I didn’t change his first name, or else this entire anecdote wouldn’t make any sense. I mean, I’m not a total liar-geez, guys, back off!

Oh My Blog!

This website is supposed to be for my writing, but I have another blog where I post whatever random things I feel like sharing. I just published a new post there, unrelated to my books. If you’re interested in checking out Oh My Blog! go have a look!

Bittersweet Dreams are Made of This

I’m hard at work on The Prophecy tonight, honest!

But I wrote this post earlier for another blog of mine, one in which I write about whatever the heck topic I feel like expounding upon at any given time, and decided I wanted to repost it here. It’s not related to my books or writing, but rather is a subject of a personal nature and something I feel compelled to share. So here it is. (And now back to work!)


My sister was my very best friend. She passed away 4 years ago and even now it seems I dream about her every night.

It may just be that I am more likely to notice and remember the nights I dream of her, but even if that’s the case, I sure do dream about her an awful lot.

Sometimes this is a joyous thing. It’s like having the opportunity to hang out with her again, even if we now spend our time together protecting giant (and I mean GIANT) spiders from mall cops with dubious intentions.

Every now and again my sleeping mind recognizes that she is dead and it’s as if she is communicating with me in light of that fact, commiserating with me about how sad it is to be separated, or showing me glimpses of some fantastical afterlife and assuring me I’ll join her there some day, but that the time for that has not yet come (a belief to which, sadly, in the waking world I do not subscribe.)

More often though, the dreams that acknowledge she has died are chilling. These I wake from unnerved, but also enormously saddened.

She spent 26 days in the ICU before succumbing to what ailed her. As her condition worsened, we faced new steps in attempting to manage the illness and treat her, and I remember when she first died the initial feeling was that this was just a new obstacle to overcome. Okay, now what are the treatment options for her death? How can we overcome this next hurdle? It took some time for the constant panicky adrenaline rush of her decline to wear off and to realize there was nothing more to be done. It was over.

Some of my dreams are fueled by this idea. She is dead, so now what’s our next step to help her get better?

Many times her “death” is represented in my sleeping mind as her being in bed, back in her old bedroom in our childhood home. The room is always dark, we have to be ever so cautious and quiet around her so as not to disturb her. Sometimes her body only appears there at nighttime. Sometimes I crawl into her bed at night, anxious, knowing that after I drift off to sleep I will wake with a start in the dark of night to find her in the room with me. This can be a happy thing, but also frightening because she is not always the only thing to break through the veil between worlds at that hour.

Other times the dreamtime logic insists that she lives again only when I sleep, and so it’s a happy and exciting occasion to bring her back in my dreams, although bittersweet in the knowledge that as soon as I wake, she will be gone again.

One of the scariest scenarios for me is the one where she has come back to life, in a manner, but is changed. She knows her family but feels nothing for us, she seems an entirely different person. Even then we are very protective of her in her “condition” (aka dead, returned to us on loan, a fleeting opportunity to be with her again even if she is not the same as she was in life.) Those dreams, when she no longer cares for me, are heartbreaking.

For some reason I have many, many dreams in which the house my sister lived in at the time of her death is a sprawling mansion filled with magic but also haunted by some great evil. I go there to try to encounter her again, but the horrible presence lurks there as well, and my sister’s spirit fears it as much as I do.

Just today I experienced sleep paralysis. You know, when you’re aware that you are half-asleep but can make no move, nor bring yourself fully awake? But my mutinous mind was convinced that my sister had returned as some malevolent spirit and was possessing me, not allowing me any control over my own body, bringing me to insanity. I worried for all my loved ones, who would not know why I would rise from bed as a completely changed, deranged person.

I don’t know why I dream of her returning with a totally different personality or as some dark presence. But whether it’s one of those dreams, or one where I get to briefly spend time with her as sisters or continue the never ending struggle to “cure” her from her death, to this day I still wake up crying. Four and a half years later.

I hope tonight will be one of the nights where we just hang out and do nonsensical dream things. That would be nice, spiders and all.

My sister in the year before her death. She went to the Otasaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, NY for a weekend-long event with the folks from the SyFy show Ghosthunters. She won the chance to have this light-painted photo (of ghosts attempting to communicate) done with two of the shows regulars, Amy and Britt of TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society)


Striking the Match

I tend to swing between periods of furious writing and droughts mainly fueled by two things: a rush of self-doubt or loss of confidence (no one is going to want to read this anyway, boohoo!) and, well, distractions.

What I really need is a fire lit under my you-know-what. This is usually achieved when I see a new review or get positive feedback (they like it, they really like it!)

Rest assured, I finally did sit down to work on revising my draft of The Prophecy just this evening. (By the way, here is something I’ve noticed in my work as well as that by other indie authors: we are booklovers, and as such, we delight in writing protagonists who are booklovers as well. Here’s a tidbit from the chapter I worked on tonight: “He had underestimated my appetite for reading when I had nothing but time on my hands and an urgent need to keep my mind off of my own all too real troubles.”)

So consider the flames fanned beneath my butt. I certainly hope to get more editing work done tomorrow.

In the meantime, before heading to bed, allow me a moment to expound upon the aforementioned distractions.

Besides the full time job and two lovely little boys, I’ve also still been working on training this pretty baby:

Miss Maya (aka Peakes Brook Night Prowler!)

She’s a smartie and picks up commands pretty easily, but she’s also a puppy and therefore sometimes kind of batcrap CRAZY. (Batcrap. Never used that phrase before, but it has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?) She is bell-trained, meaning that she rings bells hanging from the doorknob when she has to go out to do her business. She has been doing this for a month or so now. However, today she realized she could ring the bell any time of day, all day, over and over again, just because she wanted to enjoy the great outdoors. And of course you don’t want to call her bluff at the wrong time. So yeah, there was a lot of in and out and in and out today.

The other main distraction was, as usual, a video game.

Since my last post I have played one more chapter in the Life is Strange story. It’s still a lot of fun, but I do have one complaint. The character you play, Max, is an eighteen year old girl, who reunites with her childhood best friend, Chloe. I give the game props for allowing what seems to be the possibility of a romance between these two female characters. However…Chloe treats Max like crap!


I realize the situations that arise are designed to force the player to make choices that somewhat alter how future scenes in the game play out, but some of them leave a bad taste in my mouth. There is a huge movement of players who “ship” Max and Chloe, a prospect which quite honestly makes me cringe.

Some examples: Chloe gets caught with marijuana and tries to pin it on Max. You, playing as Max, can either take the blame or deny it. If you tell the truth (it’s Chloe’s weed), the rest of the game is littered with digs from Chloe for throwing HER under the bus. At another point in the game, Max and Chloe are at a diner when Max’s phone rings. The call is from a classmate who is being bullied and has been showing signs of severe depression. Chloe tries to dissuade Max from answering the phone, saying, “I thought you were here to hang out with me, not to talk to her.”

Chloe Price from Life is Strange

Chloe is a fun character in that she adds an interesting facet to the story, but her relationship with Max, even when they’re just friends, SCREAMS “unhealthy and emotionally abusive” to me.

But wait, that’s not even the game that has been ruling my life lately! That honor goes to the Game of Thrones episodic adventure by telltale games.

This is fun. A lot of fun. There is so much about the story and characters that I love. The first episode was released in December, but I only jumped on the bandwagon a few days ago. I tore through episodes 1, 2 and 3. Lucky for me, episode 4 was just released today (and yes, it’s finished already). Sadly, I probably now have about 6 weeks to wait before the 5th and penultimate episode.

Mira Forrester is handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell

So I love love love playing this game…BUT (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?)

I started reading George R.R.Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series years ago, when the fourth book in the series had just been released. I read through them all in short order, then had another 5 or 6 years to wait for the next book. In the meantime, the TV show came about, and I enjoy that a lot as well.

The game fits in with the show, even with the same actors providing voices for their characters, and it begins the night of the Red Wedding (you know, when Robb and Catlyn Stark…you know). You get to play as several members of House Forrester, a family mentioned in passing in the books. Telltale gets the feel of Game of Thrones just right, which is amazing. However, this means the game has also inherited the same pitfalls as the book and TV show. Namely, an overwhelming sense of futility because EVERYTHING BAD THAT COULD EVER HAPPEN CAN AND WILL BEFALL ANY CHARACTER YOU CARE ABOUT.

Ramsay Snow. Er, I mean Bolton! Lord Bolton!

Any time things start to look up for someone, anyone, you know things are about to get real ugly real fast. The problem with this being true in the game is that it takes away some of the fun of playing as the characters, knowing that whichever choices you make, terrible consequences are going to befall them no matter what. Do what you will in the game, everyone’s pretty much f****d anyway.

I still love this game. A lot. It just also drives me to drink, weeping into my glass as I drain it.

Talia and Rodrick Forrester

Anyway. Thanks for letting me rave and rant for a bit. Now, as promised, I have work to do on The Prophecy!

Local Author Showcase at Barnes & Noble

On Thursday, May 7th I will be at the Barnes & Noble in Dewitt, NY from 6:00 to 7:30 PM for their Local Author Showcase! I was hoping to have The Prophecy published in time for the event, and although it doesn’t look like that will be happening, stop on by for a chat and to check out The Sentient as well as books from other authors in the area. Local bookworms, unite!