Most of the best fantasy stories have about a hundred moving parts that add to the enjoyment of a story. The characters, the magic structure, the world building. All of these things add (or take away) from the core story itself.
A favorite part of any fantasy story for me is the mythical or animal companions that join the main characters along the way. They might be anthropomorphic, and full characters in their own right. They might be just animals, interacting with the characters in the same way that the animals in our world interact with us. They might be demons or other fairy creatures that must be treated with the same (or more) respect that we give our fellow humans. Any way they present themselves, I love them. They’re one of the reasons I keep reading young adult fantasy instead of adult fantasy because there are way more animal companions there.
Here are my top eleven favorite animal or mythical creature companions. I’ve tried not to include more than one character from any one series. I mean, I could probably do a whole post on my favorite Harry Potter non-human characters alone. I should also warn you, there are a lot of cats. Because cats are fantastic and make me smile.
Lucy, from Disenchanted
Lucy is a tiny little dark demon from the wicked fantasy show Disenchanted. He follows his person around, tempting her to do bad things that she really doesn’t need much convincing to do. He’s cute, he’s dark, and he made me squeak the first time I saw him. His character evolves and changes as the first season progresses, which is rare. Also, fun fact, within a week of Disenchanted coming out, people had tattoos of Lucy. Just saying, I’m not the only person in absolute love with him.
Little Bear from Circle of Magic
Little Bear is exactly what you want a dog to be. He’s big, loyal and sweet, and the perfect companion for a group of magic kids who are having a hard time getting used to their wildly new powers. This dog was curious about everything but managed not to rip up any of their crucial mage work. In short, Little Bear is a very good dog.
The rat creatures from Bone
Yes, I am including a comic book character on this list, because Bone is wonderful and comic books are stupidly unappreciated in the literary world.
The rat creatures are big, hissing beasts with long fur and horns that seem to live only to devour good creatures. They’re not that bright, though, so they don’t account for many deaths. The cutest part of the book is when Bone, the main character, finds a baby one.
Chime, from Shatter Glass, Circle Opens
I’m including this character, even though I also included Little Bear. I’m taking advantage of a loophole. Technically Little Bear was introduced during Circle of Magic, where Chime is definitely a character from Circle Opens.
Chime is also a dragon made out of glass, that acts like a poorly behaved puppy and eats everything. It then pukes up either fantastic or horrific things. It screeches at the top of its little glass lungs and scratches at things, people and animals, with its talons. In short, I’d have sent this damn thing to the shelter, but it’s really fun to read about.
The beavers from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
The vast majority of the characters from this book are talking animals. But I love the beavers best. They’re sensible and realistic. They think to pack food, sewing things and a fishing line to go to war. They are ready to open their home to some lost kids in the woods, and they ask for nothing in return. They are exactly what I think of when I think of a good person. And I aspire to be as open, as hard-working, and as giving as them.
Crookshanks from Harry Potter
I know, most people love Hedwig the most, but I’m here with the unpopular opinion. He’s sassy, he’s a fighter, and he’s badass. And he doesn’t get nearly enough credit for not only knowing who the bad guy is, and who the good guy is, in the Prisoner of Azkaban. Even after that, he is with the team, being a cat. He’s hunting vermin in the garden and the girl’s dormitory. He’s an ugly, rough cat who loves Hermione right away. While he has no patience for anyone else, he’s always ready to give a purr to his mistress and keep her seat warm.
This is getting a bit long winded, so in the interest of brevity, I’m going to cut this post in half. Stay tuned for part two on Friday.