Title: The Last Unicorn
Author: Peter S. Beagle
Nutshell: The unicorn did not take much notice of time. The forest around her remained unchanging because of her magic. She did not take much notice of the people that walked through it. Until the day that one, speaking to another, said that hers was the last forest blessed with a unicorn. She thought surely it could not be.
The unicorn left her forest, walked out of timeless starlit glades and into the dusty, tepid world, and found it was true. The unicorns had been gone for so long that people no longer saw her for what she was. They saw a particularly fine pony, not a unicorn at all.
The unicorn heard of a place where the unicorns had been taken. A miserable wasteland of a kindgom, ruled by Haggard, who controlled the Red Bull. She went in search of her lost kin. The tragic magician Schmendrick joined her, and then [Marion], who had lost her youth on a tale. They sought the unicorn’s kin together, but instead they began to lose the unicorn.
Read-Alikes: Patricia McKillip comes the closest. I think that the Princess and the Goblin has a passing similarity, just because of how deeply rooted both books are in the fairy tale tradition, and how rich they are with symbolism.
What to say?
I listened to Mr. Beagle give an interview once, and he would begin some anecdote or another, and the first led into the second, and soon twenty minutes had passed, and the interviewers shook themselves out from under his spell and made all the appropriate everyday sounds.
Everything Peter Beagle writes is enchantment.