Wonders of the Invisible World / Patricia McKillip
San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, c2012.
I am a big fan of Patricia McKillip's writing. From the time I first discovered her novel The Forgotten Beasts of Eld as quite a young reader I've followed her writing and eagerly read all of her books as I could get them.
This is a collection of short stories, and I loved it. She has such a fantastical way with words and creates amazing atmosphere in her stories, no matter how short.
There were many great stories in this book, covering a range of themes and settings. Of course, there were a few that I particularly loved, and I'll just say a quick word about those ones.
"The Kelpie" is set among a group of bohemian painters who strongly resemble the PreRaphaelites. There is true love, danger, magic and a smarmy suitor who gets his just desserts after all. There is art, feminism, friendship, and some fabulous women. This was one of the longer tales but I could have happily read more about these wonderful characters. A wonderful, unexpected conclusion added to its charms.
"Knight of the Well" was very magical. Set in a separate world and flowing with water magic, this was intriguing and had a nice twist at the end. I enjoyed the light humour found in some of the interactions between the knights, and I liked the main characters quite a bit. Our lowly knight is in love with a very powerful government official who just happens to be a talented and notable woman he has been friends with since childhood.
"The Twelve Dancing Princesses" was just what it sounds like; a pretty standard retelling of the classic fairy tale. McKillip sticks fairly close to the original in this but even so she adds so much detail, and her special brand of magical fairy dust, that it turns into a delightful new reading experience. I loved the original, and I loved this as well. So beautiful.
Those are just a few of the 16 stories included in this book, and of all those stories only two didn't catch me, which I think is pretty good odds for a collection. There is also an intro by Charles deLint about why you should read this book, and an afterword which is a speech McKillip gave in 2004 about "What Inspires Me". There is much to enjoy here, and I love the cover, which once again hints at that sense of myth & magic that McKillip is so good at providing.
Certainly recommended if you are looking for a dreamy, timeless read for the turn of the year.