You enter the cottage and you tightly grip your sword. Darkness shrouds you as the door closes behind you. As you pause to let your eyes adjust, you see a faint light in the far corner.
With your sword in front of you, you slowly ease your way toward the dim light. As you approach the corner, you see a tiny glowing figure sniffling. Wee wings on its back shine iridescent from the miniature lantern sitting beside it. You think it’s a fairy. But fairies don’t exist. You shake your head in confusion and take a second look. It seems to be about six inches tall with wings and silvery-blond hair.
Since you don’t sense any immediate danger, you kneel down and ask, “Are you okay?”
The tiny figure looks up through silvery-blond hair. “I’m Petal Juniperglow. A goblin took my family and now I’m all alone” The fairy starts to cry again.
“Hi Petal. I’m . . . ” you pause. You can’t remember your name. “I’m actually not sure. The first thing I remember was waking up on the beach. I don’t know who I am or how I got to this land. But I will help you if I can.”
Petal wipes her eye. “You will? Oh, thank you. Thank you so much.” Her teeny hand grabs your index finger. She takes a long look at you. “Since you are lost but are willing to help me, I shall call you Aine because Aine was a great helper of my people.”
She stands up and flitters to your shoulder. “Okay, we should go get supplies, which are to the west. And we should try to recruit some more reinforcements from my clan, which is to the east.”
What do you do first?
Amazing creatures abound in literature and cultural myths. Stories of fantastical beasts stretch back millennia as many ancient cultures, like the Mayans, Egyptians, Greeks, and Celts, have stories of incredible creatures and beings. The griffin (Greek), baselik (Roman), roc (Arabic) and krakken (Norse) all stem from mythology.
From the humanoid (dwarfs, elves) to the flora (treemen), from the beautiful (unicorns) to the indescribable (shoggoth), from the tiny (brownies) to the gigantic (dragons), there’s a fictional creature for any adventure and sub-genre. There’s so many, I wouldn’t even hazard a guess as to the number of fantasy creatures that have been imagined.
And let’s face it. The number continues to grow. Authors love to come up with new creatures. Or they will develop their own variation of existing creatures. Take vampires, for example. Depending on the writer, there is a variety of methods to becoming a vampire, innumerable vampire abilities, and a wide-range of looks:
From the hideous
To the hot
And yes, I’m Team Eric, Team Spike, and Team Damon. What can I say I like the a bad boy vamps. (But don’t get me started on the sparkling. Vampires should never sparkle.)
But I digress.
So in the entire world of fantasy creatures, which ones are my favorites? If I had to pick three favorites (because three is a good number), here’s what I’d pick:
A creature of Celtic folklore, the púca or (pooka) was said to be a shape-changer who good bring good (or bad) fortune. Mainly I just love the movie Harvey, in which Elwood P. Dowd (played by James Stewart) sees and talks to a six-foot, three and a half inch tall rabbit named Harvey, who happens to be a pooka.
Everyone thinks Elwood has gone insane. So his sister tries to have him committed. Hilarity ensues. And in the end, everyone thinks they see Harvey too because if Harvey made Elwood so happy, why shouldn’t he help everyone else.
You see, science has overcome time and space. Well, Harvey has overcome not only time and space, but any objections.Elwood P. Dowd
So who is to say that púcas aren’t real and have overcome time, space, and objections?
One of my favorite urban fantasy series is the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Mercy, the daughter of a Blackfeet Indian and white teenage mother, is a “walker.” A walker is a Native American shapeshifter, but one not linked to the moon. But note, a walker is different from the Navajo skinwalker (which is a witch who has the ability to disguise themselves as an animal and is usually a terrifying and horrifying creature).
Mercy, who changes into a coyote, can change at will with no pain or effort. She’s also resistant to most magics and can sense magic. As a coyote, Mercy is small and fast, able to slip into spaces that werewolves cannot. And while a coyote is not the strongest or most impressive of the shifters, I still love Mercy. She’s fast, resilient, and fiercely loyal. Plus she’s a badass mechanic.
And okay, so maybe I love the specific character instead of a type of fantasy creature. But Mercy will always go on my list of bestest and coolest fantasy creatures.
A fire bird seen in many traditions. Some say immortal, some say just long-lived. But most agree it obtains new life from a rebirth.
I like the J.K. Rowling Harry Potter version, where the phoenix Fawkes was reborn by going up in flame and being reborn from the ashes. (Of course, don’t think I didn’t cry when Fawkes essentially sacrificed himself to save Dumbledore from a killing curse.)
The phoenix traditionally symbolizes rebirth and renewal. And I like that.
It is never too late to be what you might have been.attributed to George Eliot
There are so many other creatures I could have named—centaurs, kelpies, mermaids, pixies, werewolves and other were-beasts. Each have their own aspect that make them fantastical and amazing. It was hard to pick three faves. And if you ask me tomorrow, my list would probably change. It also changes depending on the book I’m reading and what interesting creatures the author came up with for that particular story.
What is your favorite fantasy creature? Share yours in the comments beow.