The Last Unicorn
written by Peter S. Beagle and Peter Gillis
illustrated by Renae DeLiz and Ray Dillon
There is only one unicorn left in the world, and she leaves her comfortable forest in order to find the others. Most humans who see her don’t even realize that they’re looking at a unicorn—instead, they simply see a white mare.
While on her journey, the unicorn is captured by the witch Mommy Fortuna, whose magic of illusion has caused her to open a carnival of magical animals. The unicorn is real, and so is the harpy—but the other exhibits are regular animals that Mommy Fortuna has hexed to make look like magical beings.
The unicorn manages to escape with Schmendrick the Magician, who knows some stories about King Haggard and the Red Bull, both of whom seem to have connections to the missing unicorns. Eventually they meet up with Molly Grue, who has wanted all her life to see a real unicorn, and the three journey on to King Haggard’s kingdom.
The Red Bull, a giant, fiery beast, senses the unicorn’s presence and goes after her, trying to drive her into the ocean, where he’s driven all the other unicorns. In an act of desperation, Schmendrick turns her into a human in order to save her. Of course, everything becomes much more complicated now as the unicorn, in human form, falls in love with King Haggard’s son. She must remember who she is and save the other unicorns before it’s too late.
The Last Unicorn began as a novel in 1968, and it became even more well known when it was made into a children’s animated movie in 1982. Now the classic fantasy story receives new form as a graphic novel with lush, full-color illustrations. IDW has published it as a glossy-paged hardcover book, showing that they’re really backing this project. It looks beautiful.
It’s also worth noting that The Last Unicorn is a graphic novel that can be read and enjoyed by many ages. Children can read it (though a few images, like those of the harpy, might be scary for very young readers), but it’s also just as likely to wind up in the hands of teens and adults. Fans of the original novel and animated movie are also very likely to be interested in this version. This is definitely a book for librarians and schools to take a look at, because odds are it will be off the shelf a lot.