Thursday, February 15, 2018

On talking animals

I've realized that I tend to focus a lot of my character lists on strong, independent women. While that's important, I want to get away from that a bit by listing books with chatty animals today. Talking animals are a staple in fantasy literature. So today, we've had to narrow it down to a few that really stand out to me - or that used talking animals in a unique way.

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - While Manchee (the main dog) can't exactly talk, his owner, Tom, can hear his thoughts, so they can still communicate. Manchee can really only think very simple thoughts and they don't always make complete sense to Todd. I listened to the audiobook and that was especially hilarious - the author had a special voice for Manchee and seemed to bark out all the dog's thoughts. It fit perfectly.

Sabriel (Abhorsen,  #1)
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix - This entire series is made infinitely better with Mogget, the talking cat who is actually a trapped free magic being. Throughout the series, Mogget can be snarky, sneaky, and rude, but he's also an adorable cat, often wanting a scratch behind his ears or help catching fish. He's a hilarious and extremely memorable character.

Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles, #1)
  • Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins - The animals in this series are used so well! There is a civilization below New York City, full of humans, but also giant bats, rats, and bugs. All these animals can talk - and Collins does a fantastic job portraying the different cultures, alliances, and values each species has. Each species also has a distinct way of talking and this really helps bring the tale to life.

The Builders
  • The Builders by Daniel Polansky - While this book doesn't feature any humans for the animals to talk with, it's still a brilliant way to use talking animals - the animals all have distinct features, personalities, and cultures that they come from. This book is Redwall meets classic heist and it's absolutely brilliant.

What talking animals have you most loved? Why do you think talking animals are so common in fantasy stories? What other books would you add to this list?


  1. Manchee!!

    On a similar note, I'm reading The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne - and Atticus's dog can talk (or Atticus can hear his thoughts) and he gets some great lines. :)

    1. I've never heard of that book, but it's an excellent addition to this list! Thanks for the suggestion:)