Bookish Musings: Animals in Fantasy Books + Recommendations!


Truly, I am running out of topics to discuss. There is no great depth to this post, I’m just gonna wing it. I’ve read a lot of books, some of them must’ve had animals, surely I can think of something to say about that. Keep reading to find out!

(When I searched “cat” on the free photo sites to find one for the post graphic above, I saw this cat and immediately thought, “This cat looks like it knows things.” So that made it perfect for this post.)

I’ll link book titles to my reviews!

Adorable Pets

These are not strictly a fantasy thing, obviously, but who doesn’t love an adorable pet cat or dog or rat or parrot or what have you in a book?

I was trying to think of the most unusual normal animal I’ve seen as a pet in a book, and I remembered the cockatoo (cockatiel?) in The ABCs of Spellcraft series by Jordan Castillo Price. Her name is Meringue, and she’s adorable.

The ABCs of Spellcraft Collection Volume 1 by Jordan Castillo Price

Magical Animals

Familiars, talking animals, telepathic animals, animals with high levels of intelligence. Those can be cool.

The only one I can think of right now is in the Inheritance series (Jack of Thorns) by A.K. Faulkner. One of the characters gets a raven familiar who is… marginally intelligent (he’s a baby, he’s learning lol), and if I recall correctly, they are telepathically linked.

Jack of Thorns by A.K. Faulkner

Mythical Animals

Dragons! Gryphons! Unicorns! Someone help, I can’t think of any more right now. I feel like mythical animals are normally portrayed as sort of regal and majestic, which is great, but it can also be a lot of fun when they’re not those things.

Surprisingly, I don’t read about a lot of these. But one that did come to mind is The Dragon Series (Dragon’s Path) by JB McDonald. It has a dragon bonded to one of the characters, and she was like a child-sized, particularly bad-tempered and disgruntled cat that could also fly, and her antics were hilarious. The Steel and Stone series (Chase the Dark) by Annette Marie also has a character with a dragon companion, this one smaller and more sneaky. And then there’s, well, the many mythical creatures in Tales from Verania (The Lightning-Struck Heart) by TJ Klune, most of whom are completely ridiculous and not at all what you’d expect them to be. Like Gary, the unicorn, and Kevin, the dragon. (They could’ve been in the section above too, since they also talk, but I’ve decided they fit better here.)

Dragon's Path by JB McDonaldChase the Dark by Annette MarieThe Lightning-Struck Heart by TJ Klune

Humanoid Animals

Beings that speak and walk upright and have a society or are part of ours, but they look a lot like an animal.

This isn’t something I seek out, so I haven’t read it much, but I have read a couple. The Blacksmith’s Apprentice by Bey Deckard is about furry cat-like (I think) beings. And Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn, well, idk that the titular pterodactyl can really be considered humanoid, he’s literally just a pterodactyl that speaks and goes to high school with the humans (it’s a very strange book), but “magical animal” didn’t feel quite right either, so where else am I supposed to categorize that??

The Blacksmith's Apprentice by Bey DeckardHot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn

Animal Shifters

There is one portrayal of shifters that still have a human brain, just in an animal body, which is cool, especially if they turn into an uncommon animal. But there are some books that mix in some of the animal brain, which I really like.

Like the Pillars of Magic: Dominion series (Inheritance) by Lissa Kasey, in which the main character sort of forgets his humanness when he shifts into a lynx. And Spell Bound by FT Lukens, in which a character briefly turns into a cat (technically not a shifter, just a spell) and starts acting a bit like a cat.

Inheritance by Lissa KaseySpell Bound by F. T. Lukens

Riding on Unusual Animals

This is really specific, but I love when, in the world of the book, characters ride on the backs of animals people in our world normally do not. It’s just a really neat visual and so neat to imagine. Horses are cool, but imagine if you could instead ride on the back of a lion or something.

In American Hippo by Sarah Gailey, they ride hippos instead of horses. (It’s not fantasy, more like alternate history, but close enough.) And in The Lot Lands series (The Grey Bastards) by Jonathan French, they ride hogs.

American Hippo by Sarah GaileyThe Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

Animal POV

It can be very fun when an animal is the POV character in a book because it’s such a different way of viewing things.

The only book I can think of that I’ve read is The Last Dog on Earth by Adrian J. Walker, which has a very foul-mouthed dog POV. (Oh, wait, I’ve also read The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, but I don’t remember it.) But I know Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton has a crow POV, and Open Throat by Henry Hoke has a mountain lion POV. (I now realize some of these are post-apoc, which is sci-fi, but again, close enough.)

The Last Dog on Earth by Adrian J. Walker


Talk to me!

What are your thoughts on animals in fantasy books?
Does anyone else really love when characters ride unusual non-horse animals?


Your Thoughts


19 thoughts on “Bookish Musings: Animals in Fantasy Books + Recommendations!

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  1. Roberta R.

    “This cat looks like it knows things.”
    For real LOL.

    “she was like a child-sized, particularly bad-tempered and disgruntled cat that could also fly”

    Those all sounds fun! I somehow missed your review of the pterodactyl one LOL.

    The only fantasy animals I can think about right now are those in the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire – among them there are the Aeslin mice (talking mice who worship humans in a very funny way) and a giant spider from another universe (called Greg!) that one of the protagonists tames telepathically and ends up riding .

    1. Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight)

      It really does lol.

      The dragon was so much fun to read about!

      Hot Ptero Boyfriend was a while ago!

      Oh cool! Mythical creatures with very normal human names are always funny lol. But yikes, I don’t think I could ride a giant spider!

  2. Greg

    I love that cat pic! And I could honestly use more unicorn stories. I mean, the traditional regal faerie type unicorns and darker takes as well.

    Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend still kills me. We need more ptero protagonists. I like shifters too, even if I don’t need read a lot of UF. And I always need more werewolves…

    What would be really cool is a post apoc world where people are allgone and you get all animal POV’s…

  3. Jessica

    The martial arts book series I read by Kylie Chan does have animal shifters from human to animal. The book series has dragons, tigers, turtles, snakes, phoenix, and even a vampire. Kylie Chan also wrote a dragon in space book series. I only read one book of it.
    I read another book series about dragons by Rachel Hartman.
    Kent Wayne wrote a book called A Door into Evermoor that has a talking dog/wolf and dragons. He has a sequel out, but right now I can’t get it.

  4. Snapdragon

    I like when books for older readers have an animal POV. There are some mature stories that can be told through the POV of an animal. However most people think that books with animals are only for kids.

    I recommend Ratha’s Creature by Clare Bell. It a YA book about a pre–historic group of cats that called themselves the named.