Teen, YA or Older Reader Unicorn Book Feature- In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle
“Beagle’s unicorns have never been more bewitching, impossible, and genuine. I cherished every page.”
—Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and After Alice
From the acclaimed author of The Last Unicorn comes a new, exquisitely-told fable for the modern age.
Claudio Bianchi has lived alone for many years on a hillside in Southern Italy’s scenic Calabria. Set in his ways and suspicious of outsiders, Claudio has always resisted change, preferring farming and writing poetry. But one chilly morning, as though from a dream, an impossible visitor appears at the farm. When Claudio comes to her aid, an act of kindness throws his world into chaos. Suddenly he must stave off inquisitive onlookers, invasive media, and even more sinister influences.
Lyrical, gripping, and wise, In Calabria confirms Peter S. Beagle’s continuing legacy as one of fantasy’s most legendary authors.
Get it at Amazon.
A Couple of Reviews To Help You Choose
Sophie’s Mystery5.0 out of 5 stars Had to have it Reviewed in the United States on February 18, 2017 I bought this book on a whim. Crazy, I know, but I saw it and didn’t want to put it down. I didn’t even read the doodly doo on the inner sleeve, something I rarely ever, ever do.
I don’t regret buying this book, which is slim and deceptive in its complexity.
In Calabria proves you don’t need 700 pages of woo woo to get your point across. The story writing is similar to ancient myth than 21st century psycho babble that tries too hard to peddle you a social justice theme (love! Hope! Race! Freedom!), proving also that simplicity is better than overbearing grandeur and our brains can fill in the pieces much quicker than publishers realize.
So, this book, in general, is about a somewhat old, cranky, but gently benign southern Italian farmer who has chosen to live as hermit after a tragedy in his youth. Basically, he’s any generic person you may or may not know who has imposed themselves into an introverted exile to avoid society. He has a coterie of animals whom he loves, a goofy but self-aware post man friend who gives him a semblance of humanity, and various other people that revolve around him interstellarly, like lost planets caught in the gravitational pull of a warm but dim sun. Bianchi has a deceptively simple life which covers up his rich inner world. Imagine a plain brown box that, when opened, reveals a glimmering bed of colorful jewels.
Enter the Lady – la Signore. Like some sort of semi-divine miracle, she appears rather mysteriously in his fields and disappears, repeating this over several occasions, before eventually plopping herself down into some hovel/grotto/cave? to bestow upon Bianchi a miracle which, in many ways, causes him both innumerable change, fear, anger, and pain. The story continues into a worldwide of collisions and contradictions and emotions that left me unable to look away. It’s an interesting look at what we call, conventionally, ‘miracles’, those odd moments in life when the most unsuspecting person is ‘chosen’ to fulfill a greater purpose in life which only leads to them moving forward into the future. Bianchi is the unassuming target of a beautiful magic that forces him to confront himself, something which we all struggle with. He is the image of every person who, blaming themselves for something that they had a hand in but were not the ultimate cause of, isolates them self in a living purgatory out of a fear, regret, and shame. Bianchi is the center of a spinning galaxy of change which he does not actively seek, but is drawn to him for various reasons, all started by this beautiful, mysterious, otherworldly creature who is both unicorn and something else. The most interesting aspect of this story to me personally is the fact that Beagle discovered the miraculous outside of the religious sphere. It’s much more worldly, and believable, than you might think. It made me think back to many moments in my life when strange and yet lovely things of importance occurred to me, and that my thoughts were very simple to Bianchi. Why me, and how? Why me, and not someone else, someone prettier and more talented and more loved and more deserving than I? And that tiny connection shows there is something in this book which is more human than we might readily believe.
Tracey rated it it was amazing · review of another edition Shelves: 5-star, mystery, fantasy, netgalley, unicorn, italy Like most people who are able to read and enjoy fantasy, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Peter S. Beagle. That’s not to say I’m a real fan, however; he’s a remarkable writer, and uses language like a virtuoso uses a violin, but I’ve just never warmed to him.
And In Calabria is a perfect example of why. It’s a beautiful book. The characters are marvelous. The intrusion of the rare and beautiful into the life of a reclusive and misanthropic man is intense and utterly real.
But, for me, there’s some … thing lacking. I have no idea what. Something holds me back, creates a distance. It was gorgeous and I’m glad I read it, and parts of it will stay with me – but, still…
In any case… while neither this nor any of the other Beagles I’ve read will ever be my very favorite book, it was still a remarkable experience. I saw one review which complained that there was nothing new here, that Beagle has “done” unicorns before, didn’t have to do it again – but I think that’s … well, insane. It’s been a while since I read The Last Unicorn, but I don’t think this bears much of a resemblance to that, apart from the obvious: the cataclysmic effect a creature of legend can have on ordinary life. It’s not a well, which can be dipped into too often – it’s a river, a force of nature, never the same two moments running. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been fonder of Peter Beagle – his extraordinarily comforting last name notwithstanding, his are simply not comfortable books.
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