A review of Peter S. Beagle's In Calabria

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Peter S. Beagle's In Calabria was published by Tachyon Publications in January/February 2017.

Information about Peter S. Beagle:

Peter S. Beagle is the best-selling author of The Last Unicorn, which has sold a reported five million copies since its initial publication in 1968. His other novels include A Fine & Private Place, The Innkeeper’s Song, and Tamsin. His short fiction has been collected in four volumes by Tachyon Publications, including The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche, The Line Between, We Never Talk About My Brother, and Sleight of Hand. He has won the Hugo, Nebula, Mythopoeic, and Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire awards and the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Information about In Calabria:

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 to the company of others. But one chilly morning, 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.


Peter S. Beagle's In Calabria is a lyrical, touching and exquisitely beautiful story set in Calabria. It's perfect fiction for those who enjoy reading well-told literary stories, because it's a magical tale for adults. It's like a slice of real life that has been spiced with fantasy elements.

Before I delve into writing about this story and its contents, I'll mention that it can be classified either as a short novel or as a novella. I personally classify it as a novella, because it is of novella length.

For a while now, I've admired Peter S. Beagle's literary voice, because he writes beautiful fiction in his own unique way. I like his way of combining fantastical and realistic elements, because he does it extremely well and engages the reader's attention from the very first page. In my opinion, this novella is an excellent example of his writing skills, because it's a beautiful fable for modern readers.

In Calabria is one of those novellas that are not meant to be read in haste (it is not intended to readers who skim through stories without taking the time to ponder their meaning). This novella is a relatively fast read, but please don't let its length fool you into believing that it's a simple story without depth. It's anything but simple, because it features such themes as isolation and loneliness, which are explored in a delicate yet surprisingly strong way.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

In Calabria is a story about Claudio Bianchi and his life on a remote farm in rural Calabria. He doesn't meet many people, except for his friend who is the postman Romano Muscari. One day he sees a unicorn in his vineyard. The unicorn seems to have come to his farm of its own will and has chosen it for its own reasons. Soon his peaceful life is thrown into turmoil and he has to fend off inquisitive onlookers...

Claudio Bianchi is an interesting protagonist, because he's a farmer who writes poems. He has cut himself off from people and lives as a hermit in almost total isolation. He enjoys the peace and quiet of his farm. His life changes when a unicorn appears on his farm, because he begins to connect with people again and kind of breaks out of the shell that he has created around him.

It was intriguing how easily the author drew me into Claudio's world, because I found myself being captivated by the happenings at his farm and enjoyed reading about him. I think that many readers will be intrigued by Claudio's life, because he doesn't want to be bothered by other people.

The most captivating scenes in this novella feature the unicorn, because they have a bit dream-like and slightly ethereal feel to them. The author writes beautifully about the unicorn's appearance and its pregnancy. What I like most about these scenes is that the author lets things unfold naturally at their own pace without hurry.

What makes the story especially interesting is that the author writes about the unicorn in a modern setting, because unicorns are not often found in speculative fiction stories that take place in modern world. Although the events take place in modern world, the unicorn is described as a magical and mysterious being that is almost like something out of a dream.

I noticed that this story had "tender brutality" that is seldom found in this kind of fiction. The author beautifully explores the harsh realities of life by using little things as his tools to write about them. He does all of this in a delicate manner and simultaneously stimulates the reader's imagination by fantastical elements.

I found it fascinating that the unicorn symbolised change and growth in this novella, because I have vague memories of  reading about unicorns being associated with innocence, purity and mystical healing powers. I must point out that I may be wrong about this, because it's been a while since I've read anything about the symbolism related to unicorns.

One of the most important things why I love this novella is that the author writes lyrical prose. His beautiful prose is a pleasure to read, because his descriptions about the happenings are elegant.

Peter S. Beagle's In Calabria is a delicious and noteworthy masterpiece of magical realism for everyone who loves literary speculative fiction and enjoys reading beautifully written stories. It's a captivating and rewarding story that should not be missed by fantasy readers, because it pulses with elegance and subtle beauty.

Highly recommended!