This guest post on animal sidekicks in fiction comes from Kendare Blake. Blake is the #1 NYT bestselling author of the Three Dark Crowns series, Anna Dressed in Blood, and others. She lives in Gig Harbor, WA and writes from under a pile of pets. You can find her on Twitter at @KendareBlake.
If you’ve read any of my novels, you know I love nothing more than a sassy animal character. From Tybalt the ghost-sniffing cat in Anna Dressed in Blood to Camden the cougar, Braddock the bear, and Pepper the woodpecker in the Three Dark Crowns series, plucky animals just won’t stay off the pages. So it makes sense that I LOVE a good animal character in the books I read. Let’s talk about five.
Falcor, luck dragon, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
I know, I know…is Falcor really an animal? And if you’ve seen him on film, is he really a dragon? I guess I’m not sure. He’s just a long, sinewy, scaly-fluffy thing with a booming human voice and lashes to kill for. He’s what would happen if Snuffy from Sesame Street had a baby with one of those albino cave eels. And Bastian would have gotten exactly ZERO questing done without him. He’s lucky, and super fast, and he’ll chase your bullies into a dumpster apparently. What’s more useful than that?
Nailah, lionaire, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
She’s an enormous horned lion that you can ride. I shouldn’t have to say anything more than that. There can be no more useful mount to have if you’re going on a cross-country quest. She can hunt, she can run, she can fight, and if you have an upset stomach she can lay on it and purr. I’ve heard that helps.
Xephyra, phoenix, Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Pret
Am I only going to mention fantasy creatures on this list? Geez. I have to spotlight a few real animals. But fantasy animals are frankly more plentiful: Narnia, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Twilight if you count Jacob—they all have lots of magical creatures to choose from. Realistic animals are harder to think of, except for Old Yeller, who is clearly not a sidekick but the STAR of that piece. Anyway, back to the fabulous Xephyra, a young phoenix who can fly and fight and burn things with fire (while also mystically not burning her rider). She’s sassy and adorable and demands to be bonded with. A very useful friend, indeed.
Mr. Kindly, the sort-of cat, The Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff
Mr. Kindly is very catlike, so I’m counting him as an actual cat. Sure, he can neutralize fear by feeding on it, which makes him very useful, and he offers much sage advice, but what cat doesn’t? Mine make most of my life decisions. The Nevernight Chronicle finale, Darkdawn, released last month and I’m excited to dive into one last adventure with this delightful not-cat thing and his bloodthirsty assassin.
Kamazotz, the death bat, Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Full disclosure, Kamazotz is not so much a sidekick as a bat that may or may not really enjoy ripping people’s heads off. But I WISH he was a sidekick because how awesome does he sound? Can you imagine the adventures one could have flapping around on a gigantic murder-bat? His face is described as made of “primordial, half-formed fears,” which has to be adorable, and sometimes he leaves his realm to drink from people’s armpits. I’m not sure how I feel about that but it would be a lot of fun to tell my enemies that my bat is coming for their armpits. Also, the book? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.