The best fantasy books with talking animals/mythological creatures

Who am I?

I’ve been reading/gaming and writing fantasy for over 40 years. My interest in the genre began with mythology, then spread into the now countless branches of the Tolkien tree. Along with the great quests and magic items, I was always enchanted by the non-human characters populating these magical worlds. Not just the elves, dwarves, and dragons, but the intelligent animals and mythological creatures like pegasi, minotaurs, treants, big cats, snakes, apes, eagles, gargoyles – the list is endless. Some were good, some misunderstood, and some were evil incarnate, but almost always, I found their stories the most intriguing. As a result, their stories will be a big part of my new series, The Tamm Chronicles.

I wrote...

Thunder Peak

By Trae Stratton,

Book cover of Thunder Peak

What is my book about?

Fourteen-year-old Casey Tamm lives under Thunder Peak with her adoptive father Jonas. Jonas has kept the mysteries of the mountain to himself, but when Casey discovers unicorns are real, he knows it's time to reveal those secrets. Secrets that will rattle Casey’s world and fill it with mythical creatures; hidden truths about her heritage that set the burden of getting the stranded unicorn back home upon her shoulders. Unbeknownst to the Tamms and their magical allies, the task also resurrects the merciless Nightblade. An ancient saber-toothed predator who arrived long ago with one dire purpose: to eliminate Casey. But who sent the diabolical creature? How was it defeated and what does it all have to do with her long, lost mother? There are some secrets even Jonas doesn’t know…

The books I picked & why

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By Brian Jacques, Gary Chalk (illustrator),

Book cover of Redwall

Why this book?

When I first picked up Redwall I had my doubts. Mice? Really? Now Redwall is firmly atop my recommendation list for fantasy. Brimming with quests and riddles, warring factions, lost weapons, strange new allies, and villainous foes – it is positively Tolkien in scope. Anchored by Hero’s Quest themes and propelled by great pacing, colorful locales, and richly drawn characters developing new friendships, this adventure-driven fantasy is a breezy joy to read. The series has grown to over 20 books, and in regard to imagination, flow and pacing, I consider it an inspiration for what I try to do in my own work.

The Jungle Book

By Rudyard Kipling,

Book cover of The Jungle Book

Why this book?

Before television, the only way for most people to “visit” exotic locales was through a novel like The Jungle Book. Its many grand themes will always keep it relevant, but for me, it’s through the unknowable interiors of India, the character animals that “live” there and the code they live by – the living breathing Law of the Jungle, by which The Jungle Book retains its “teleportative magic” in the digital age. Thrust in the middle is the “man-cub” Mowgli who is trying to discover for himself if he can or even should live by the law too. On one side the animals who think man and animal can coexist and try to mentor him to that end, and on the other a tiger, who fears that men will eventually destroy the jungle for all of them. Relevance plus teleportative magic equals Classic.

The Last Unicorn

By Peter S. Beagle,

Book cover of The Last Unicorn

Why this book?

After my daughter was born, it occurred to me that there might be unicorns in my future, a whole room full of them, and I should get ready to talk about them in a fantastical “Dad knows all” type way by reading some unicorn stories. This is the first book I chose, and after getting immersed in both the story and art, I realized how compelling a unicorn character could be in an adult book. Years later, after publishing my first novel and deciding the next one would be dedicated to her, this story rose up in the back of my mind urging me to make it a unicorn tale. And I did. Though propelled by themes way beyond the Hero’s Journey epics I usually favor, such as identity, loneliness, and the pursuit of happiness, there is plenty of magic, wonder, and dramatic action elements to please everyone.

Kaz the Minotaur: Heroes, Volume Four

By Richard A. Knaak,

Book cover of Kaz the Minotaur: Heroes, Volume Four

Why this book?

When you’re in the mood for pure adventure-driven fantasy with a noble, troubled hero beleaguered on all sides, this is the one to pick up. Going back to when I first read about Theseus in grammar school and all the way through my Dungeons & Dragons years, I have always thought that minotaurs were cool and full of untapped potential. Herein lies the tale that proves I was right. It will evolve your feeling about minotaurs from mindless beasts in the labyrinth to courageous knights of quality and mettle. Don’t worry about the massive scope of the Dragon Lance Chronicles, this one can be read on its own.

St. Patrick's Gargoyle

By Katherine Kurtz,

Book cover of St. Patrick's Gargoyle

Why this book?

Wonderful, fast-paced urban fantasy set in Dublin, Ireland. Gargoyles are former avenging angels who now watch over churches – that hook was simply irresistible to me. When some artifacts go missing from his cathedral, it’s up to the gargoyle Padraig and an elderly Knight of Malta (whose modern-day steed is a Rolls Royce) to find the sinister culprit and set things aright. The charming descriptions of Dublin, along with the witty banter of the heroes and the interesting nuggets of Celtic lore made me wish Kurtz had written a whole series of Gargoyle books. Sadly, she did not. Trigger assurance: the religious aspects are carefully handled so as to enhance the atmosphere of the story, not to insult or preach. St. Patrick’s Gargoyle is 200 of the fastest pages I have ever read.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Dublin, unicorns, and magic-supernatural?

5,809 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Dublin, unicorns, and magic-supernatural.

Dublin Explore 28 books about Dublin
Unicorns Explore 35 books about unicorns
Magic-Supernatural Explore 345 books about magic-supernatural

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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