Replay -Guest Post – What do you look for in magical beasts?

Charles Yallowitz was kind enough to join me in June as a guest. As part of the Christmas replay, I share once again his post about the magical beasts that populate the pages of fantasy.

Charles is the author of the popular series Legends of Windemere and you can find his books through his Amazon author page and he shares the journey of their creation on his blog.

Thank you to Sue for offering to host a promo/guest blog. Now to get the introduction and promo stuff out of the way. My name is Charles E. Yallowitz and I’m the author behind the Legends of Windemere epic fantasy series where the latest one is Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue. I also just released a 27-page short story for 99 cents called Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts, so you can get a quick, cheap taste of me . . . whatever. Let’s move on to the fun!

Yahoo Image Search

Yahoo Image Search

One of the staples of the fantasy genre are the magical beasts from mythology and the recesses of the author’s imagination. Yes, I’m aware that some people feel that such things are overused and no longer have a place in the genre. In fact, I’ve gotten into that debate several times. Seriously, how can someone say dragons are fine, but they get angry about unicorns, griffins, mermaids, and the rest of the menagerie? I digress and now I will repress the anger.

Balrog from Street Fighter

Balrog from Street Fighter

Magical worlds are filled with unique creatures ranging from large versions of regular animals to off the wall critters. Look at Middle Earth for this. You have beasts that range from giant spiders to sentient trees to the terrifying Balrog (as seen to the right). They roam the wilds and attack cities. They appear to the pure of heart or obey the darkest of wills. Most of them tend to be living in the ruins of ancient civilizations that were destroyed by the citizens’ own hubris. The point here is that nearly every fantasy series has at least one creature that is not from the real world.

The challenge with including such beasts is the ‘HOW’. The Hobbit (book!) had Smaug the dragon as the main enemy and other creatures were smaller obstacles. This is before the time where people got bored with the adventure tale. This type of story allows for the unique flora and fauna of a world to be displayed at relatively random intervals. D&D and video games would call these random encounters because they were typically not main plot essential. They were more for character evolution and world building. For example, the Hobbit would have gone the same without the giant spiders of Mirkwood, but Bilbo Baggins found his courage and Sting’s power there. Also, any creature could have been used for the effect, which seems to be another sign of how beasts are used.

Most of the new fantasy that I’ve read doesn’t touch on magical creatures unless the story focuses on them. Bears and wolves have taken the place of ogres and pegasi. Yet, dragons still show up and you see magical beasts on emblems. I’m not sure if this is a push to make fantasy more realistic or it’s just part of a cycle where the focus is more on human enemies than monsters. Personally, I like a balance, but I will admit that it’s difficult to put a monster into a story without it feeling like a random encounter or a dungeon crawl. The Compass Key has tons of battles against unique creatures, so I do worry about this. The first act has the heroes wandering a swamp, the second act involves a lost tomb for a chapter, and the third act is in a place I can’t talk about. Monsters are everywhere in these relatively untouched regions of Windemere, so it makes sense to me that they would be there. To a reader though, it might not be seen that way. Yes, I know the adage ‘you can’t please everyone’.

So, what do people think of the use of magical beasts in literature? Are the days of anything that isn’t a dragon over? Seriously, why do dragons get a pass when they’re the most overdone critter? People get angry over a hobgoblin being used, but swoon over another red dragon. I just don’t

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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19 Responses to Replay -Guest Post – What do you look for in magical beasts?

  1. Great point of debate, Charles. I used plenty of them in my fantasy, but they were more character than monster. I get that styles change over time, but is there no room for creatures in fantasy any longer?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It might cycles. Eventually, people will tire of the low monster, low magic fantasy and look at the other side of the coin. The current trend is grittiness, politics, etc. that you find in Game of Thrones. Nothing against it, but that’s the current standard. Back when it was Harry Potter and LOTR, you did find more magical creatures in fantasy. So it might be a waiting game for their return or one has to search a bit more.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. ejfrostuk says:

    I love creatures in fantasy. I read a lot of urban fantasy, which still has plenty of creatures, some traditional (like the unicorn in Ben Aaronovich’s “Foxglove Summer”), some unique creations (I’m thinking of Kate Griffin’s “Matthew Swift” series in particular here). I think they enhance the worldbuilding and connect with a rich tradition of creatures in fantasy. I’d probably be a little disappointed to read a fantasy novel with no creatures at all.


  3. Pingback: Best Fiction and Writing Blogs | M.C. Tuggle, Writer

  4. Mike says:

    A magic beast or two steals the scene in my latest wip. Thanks for some great advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Replay -Guest Post – What do you look for in magical beasts? | oshriradhekrishnabole

  6. Just as my eleven years old son would say, “They got to look cool, Mommy!” To think of what he said he got a point in some ways and one time my girlfriend just broke her relationship with her boyfriend and she reminded me of what my son told me before. “Damn Prince Charming is a real devil in disguise. A face that is too beautiful which hidden the heart of a stone!” …. Well, dragons are cool, indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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