Fantastic Five: wyrd & wonderful creatures

It’s Sunday, which means it’s time to share our Fantastic Fives! This week we’re celebrating the mascots who have accompanied us through five years of Wyrd & Wonder and Spooktastic Reads: the dragon, the phoenix, the pegasus, the raven and the wolf.

Some creatures leap to mind when you say fantasy while others make rare appearances. I’m considering the mascots themselves to be our fantastic five this week – because they are fantastic, and there are five of them – and making a few suggestions to help anyone grasping at the mascot prompts on this year’s book bingo!

Our first mascot was the dragon – a fantasy staple. Looking for an unusual pick? Try World Fantasy Award winner Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton, the polite society of dragons that Jane Austen never wrote. Another intriguing spin is Yoon Ha Lee’s sentient dragon automaton Arazi in underrated fantasy stand-alone Phoenix Extravagant, which leads us neatly on to…

A stylised dragon (black line art on white background) in a red circle

Our next mascot was the phoenix – a gorgeous symbol of hope and renewal. I first encountered one in E Nesbit’s classic children’s fantasy The Phoenix and The Carpet. More recently, RF Kuang has her fearsome deity of The Poppy War and Nnedi Okorafor gave us The Book of Phoenix. I’ve also been meaning to pick up Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto, which features phoenix riders!

I didn’t expect flying horses to be the most challenging prompt, but here we are. My first must have been the adorable Fledge in The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis; and – outside Greek and Islamic myth – he well have been my last! The closest I can get is Imraith-Nimphais from The Fionavar Tapestry – a winged unicorn – so anyone on the read-along has this in the bag.

Our first year of Wyrd & Wonder featured an antler, which was far too macabre for this week, so it’s just as well we had the gorgeous raven for Spooktastic Reads to rescue us. Maybe we should pick up the theme with a stag next year…

My love of ravens probably started with The Hobbit, but the Morrigan and Odin’s ravens played their part. Expect to find ravens in mythic and epic fantasy as prophets and harbingers of war. They’re also regular touchstones in YA (think Margaret Rogerson, Maggie Stiefvater, Lila Bowen), but my recent favourites are from Oliver Langmead’s Birds of Paradise – a ruthless legal firm of corvid shapeshifters!

…which brings us to this year’s mascot: the wolf.

I grew up with fantasy full of terrifying wolves (the wolves are running, Master Harker still puts a shiver down my spine), so I’m thankful for the friendly packs of The Wheel of Time and The Belgariad. More recently, the Wolves won me over to Godblind (Anna Stephens) although they’re still making me shudder in The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay). Regardless, I’m always happy to see one (in fiction)!

Wyrd and Wonder 2022: tree wolf mascot

What mascots have my Wyrd and Wonder co-hosts featured this week? Check out the Fantastic Fives from the rest of the team: A Dance With Books | Dear Geek Place | The Book Nook | Jorie Loves A Story

Want to join us in sharing your own fantastic fives? We’d love to see them – check out our weekly topics and share your links in the master schedule. We’ll be sharing our Fantastic Fives each Sunday through May, but you’re welcome to post any day (and tackle the prompts in any order, because that’s the sort of super-relaxed party we like to run).

IMAGE CREDITS: tree wolf image by chic2view on

Note: the gorgeous tree wolf is not royalty-free, but is licensed for use to promote Wyrd and Wonder online. You are welcome to use the banner on your Wyrd and Wonder posts, but please make no changes (except to resize if needed) and always credit the artist!