“The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone.” One day a couple of hunters pass through the unicorn’s woods and begin arguing about whether unicorns still exist. After the hunters leave, the unicorn begins to wonder if she really is the last unicorn in the world. To find out, she reluctantly leaves her home to search for others of her kind. Along the way, the unicorn is joined by a bumbling magician and a cynical older woman who both want the company of the unicorn for very different reasons. In the end, the lives of everyone will be changed forever, especially the unicorn’s.
I like this book most for the gorgeous descriptions and masterful plot. Although this is a fantasy story with a protagonist that is a unicorn, it’s also a very human story with deeply emotional undertones. Highly recommended for Tolkien fans or anyone else that likes a little bit of gentle substance in their fantasy.
There is a follow-up story to The Last Unicorn written by Beagle entitled “Two Hearts”, originally published in the October/November 2005 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine. You can read the story in the anthology Mirror Kingdoms.
Note that there’s also a classic Rankin/Bass movie version of The Last Unicorn starring lots of famous voices, plus a graphic novel version with gorgeous artwork, both of which are faithful to the original novel. They are also recommended.