So tonight, I read the sequel to my favourite ever book The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle. I listened to the song from the movie while I read it and I’m not ashamed to say it made me cry to return to that world and revisit the characters and the heartache and of course the nostalgia!
So it got me thinking about other books I love that I actually saw the film first and how much they meant to me growing up. I’m sure all of us can relate to those few movies and books which still bring a tear to our eye. That made us feel so alive growing up like we could do anything, and those connections we had with characters. So I decided to list a few of my favourites here which really taught me about emotions and that the world was actually a much bigger place than the street I played on.
The Last Unicorn, animated film and short novel by Peter S Beagle
The Secret Garden, film, and novel by Frances Hodgson-Burnett
Fairytale A True Story, film, I think this was a book also but I’ve never been able to find it.
The Neverending Story, film, and book by Michael Ende
And finally, although it’s not a children’s book or film, it’s one that makes me nostalgic for my late teens and early 20s. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, film and book by Truman Capote
Yet another incredible collection of short stories from world renowned Fantasy Author Peter S Beagle. I was extra excited for The Overneath because I’d heard it featured a story about our very own Schmendrick the Magician. But imagine my delight when I discovered not one but two Schmendrick stories!!
In addition, there is of course plenty of other stories in here which deserve praise of their own. From stories about the Fremont Bridge Troll (of which I had never previously heard of but am now fascinated by) to stories of otherworlds where our world lays in the shadows.
I particularly liked the story about a group of men living together and one of them creates an electronic device which without giving spoilers has a spooky purpose. Another favourite has to be the one about a haunted aquarium and it’s retired teachers for heroines. And of course there’s lots of Unicorn related stories too!
Peter S Beagle just has an incredible skill for putting together both short and full length stories. I have been in love with The Last Unicorn my whole life and I continue to adore every single thing Peter writes. The Overneath is no different. A fantasy lover’s heaven from start to finish.
The Last Unicorn has long been one of the most precious things. When I was little it was my favourite film which I watched over and over again. When I found out it was a book I of course had to read it and it fast became one of my favourite books. I grew up believing nobody else knew about it, like it was my secret thing and then I discovered there was this whole fan base who loved it too and that only served to make it even more special.
So of course when I found out there was a new unicorn book by Peter S Beagle I just HAD to read it. This one is slightly different though. Set in modern day Italy on a ramshackle old farm owned by a grumpy ‘old’ man it does not at first appear to have any of the magic of The Last Unicorn. Stay with it though. Very similar in style to Summerlong it takes a while for the magic to build up. Finally we have a unicorn on the premises and with it, magical things begin to happen.
What I’ve always loved about Peter S Beagle’s unicorn novels is the sacred, ethereal characteristics of the unicorns. The amazing power they have behind them makes them also dark but pure at the same time. Like the magic of Tolkien it’s unexpected, it’s imperfect but it’s wonderful.
Summerlong is the second Peter S Beagle novel I have read. The first being The Last Unicorn which is one of my all time favourite books (and films). I guess I was expecting something along the same with Summerlong.
I was wrong though. Summerlong is nothing like The Last Unicorn. It is a far more adult book but that doesn’t make it any less magical.
The story follows Joanna and Abe an old couple who still don’t live together and Joanna’s daughter Lilly. They meet Lioness Lazo a waitress at the Skyline Diner and before they know it she has become an integral part of their lives.
The twist in this story prevents me from saying much more because otherwise my review will be absolutely full to the brim of spoilers and nobody wants that! So instead I’ll talk about the writing.
The story follows twists and turns through a maze of feelings and couple’s secrets, to the glue which holds them together to the stitches which tear them apart. Peter S Beagle weaves myth and magic into a modern setting in a way which is truly magnificent. The writing style compares slightly to Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies but where Groff’s novel wraps itself in knots and over-complicates Beagle weaves a story which is eloquent in a none egotistical way.
An enchanting and woeful story of love, myth and magic.