Books

Top 5 books featuring magical creatures, selected by Katherine Rundell

Fauns, dragons, shooting stars – some of author and academic Katherine Rundell's favourite magical creatures

Dragon illustration

Image: Lilawind from Pixabay

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

I have a friend who fell in love with Mr Tumnus the Faun at seven and has found it very hard to reconcile herself to dating human men ever since.

The Natural History, Pliny the Elder, 77AD

Alongside accounts of hedgehogs and bats, it contains entirely serious accounts of mythical creatures, such as the Jaculus dragon, which “darts from the branches of trees… for these fly through the air even, just as though they were hurled from an engine.”

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

The star of this book is Calcifer, the shooting star who lives in the fireplace of a magical castle and talks like a wayward academic.

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A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin

The dragons in Le Guin’s wonderful Earthsea Quartet speak the Old Speech: they are at once terrible and ancient, and full of a kind of wisdom beyond mankind. One of my characters in my new book is called Irian Guinne in her honour.

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner

I love Garner’s books for their density of atmosphere, and their strangeness. This book, with its journey into dark mines amid the elf-like svart alfar, is unforgettable.

Impossible Creatures book cover

Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell is out on 14 September (Bloomsbury, £14.99). You can buy these titles from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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