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In Calabria - Book Review

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
Published January 23rd 2018
A story of forgiveness, love and magic
In Calabria, Peter S. Beagle, fantasy novel, unicorns, books about unicorns

"He straightened up and shrugged into his battered, beloved leather jacket, thinking, there is a poem in this coat- stretched his arms pleasurably, yawned, scratched the back of his own shaggy neck, and saw the unicorn in his vineyard."

Claudio Bianchi lives on a tiny farm on a hillside in southern Italy. He has little contact with the outside world, besides his postman, Romano, preferring the company of his dog, three cats, a handful of cows and a goat. He is content with his lot and spends his days working on the farm and writing poetry in secret. His life changes with the appearance of a pregnant unicorn, who has apparently come to his farm to give birth. Bianchi struggles to keep La Signora, as he calls her, a secret from the rest of the world, but soon he has people on his doorstep wanting to hunt the unicorns or force him to sell his farm. Only Giovanna, Romano's younger sister is there to help him keep the magical creatures safe.

I wasn't really sure what to make of this book. I went into it knowing little about it except that it had something to do with unicorns and I had heard good things about the author. Peter S. Beagle's novel The Last Unicorn was an international best seller and he has received high praise from fellow fantasy writers like Ursula Le Guin and Tad Williams.

In Calabria will appeal to fans of magical realism. There is no real explanation of how La Signora came to be on a farm in modern day Italy, but it simply doesn't matter. The prose is beautiful and the unicorns are as mysterious and wonderful as anyone could wish. The romance between the older Claudio and the young Giovanna felt a bit forced, like it was wish fulfillment on the part of the author, but if you're into May-December romances you might see that as a plus.

In Calabria is a quick read, which could easily be finished in one or two sittings with a cup of tea or a glass of wine (I tested this just to make sure). It's a beautifully written, quiet sort of story, where the magical intersects with the ordinary.

Published: February 12, 2017
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Tachyon Publications, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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