Thursday, November 16, 2006

Review: _Harrowing the Dragon_ by Patricia McKillip

Patricia McKillip is a master Fantasy author of many books, some of them have won awards. She writes highly entertaining and thought provoking stories and books that are loved by many people. Her short stories have been collected recently in Harrowing the Dragon, a book with many appealing stories for readers.

The collection opens with “The Harrowing of the Dragon of Hoarsbreath.” People live on an island that is frozen in ice most of the year. They mine for gold in the mountain of the island, which is honeycombed with caves. Peka is a seventeen year old miner who returns to the island after a short time on the mainland. She meets Ryd Yarrow, another returned native of Hoarsbreath. He has become a Dragon Harrower and wants to save the island from a dragon. Ms. McKillip traces these young people’s lives with a vivid story about winter and change.

“The Fellowship of the Dragon” follows five women sent on a journey to save the queen’s harper. Anne is the leader who faces losses as her group travels in a land of magic to confront a dragon. She learns many things about life on her quest. The story is a compelling adventure told with vivid descriptions and interesting characters.

A story about a tower is represented in “Lady of the Skulls.” The tower stands in the middle of a barren, desert plain. It is tended by a lone woman who tends the tower and its treasure. Six knights come to try to get the treasure. Each one must try to find the most precious thing in the tower. If they choose wrong then they die. It is a poignant tale about loneliness and what truly matters in the world. Readers will find this story memorable.

In “The Stranger,” Syl sees a strange man play music on her way home one evening. He weaves the colors in the sunset sky into beautiful things. Over the next few days, strange cloud creatures burn villagers’ homes. The stranger claims he can eliminate the creatures for a price. Syl tries to capture the colors she witnesses in her weaving and persuade the stranger into forgoing his price because the island is poor. Ms. McKillip brings the story to a haunting conclusion through wonderful descriptions.

Fairy tales are points of inspiration for authors. “The Lion and the Lark” is a reworked vivid fairy tale. Lark is the youngest daughter of a family who can sing beautifully. She greets her father after he returns from a trip and discovers that she must go to a living stone lion in the forest. There she meets an enchanted man who only takes human form at night. The story follows Lark and Perrin through several adventures in a poignant, memorable story.

These are just a few of the maining thoughtful, entertaining stories in the book. Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia McKillip is an excellent collection of short stories that evokes vivid images and magic for readers. It is a good book for readers to experience this author’s talented and deeply magical creations.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Book Review: _Moonlight and Vines_ by Charles de Lint

Fantasy author Charles de Lint has written many engrossing books over the years. He is the master of Urban Fantasy with great stories set in the modern day world. Moonlight and Vines is a collection of short stories set in the magical fictional city of Newford. There are many engaging stories with sympathetic characters and captivating plots.

“The Big Sky” is the story of a man who has died. John arrives at his home one evening to find a girl sitting in his living room. She is his guide to the afterlife. He refuses to go with Dakota, not believing he is dead that leaves him to wander earthbound looking for help. This is a nice story about hope and helping others find their way, whether in life or death.

Arthurian fantasy is represented by the story “Passing.” Lucy Grey is a reporter. While researching a story she meets a troubled young woman needing help. Nina asks Lucy to get her away from her husband. She wants the sword hanging on the wall in their apartment as the only thing from her marriage. Lucy is driven by confusion and love in deciding what to do. Mr. de Lint writes a magical tale about love and sacrifice for others.

Newford is a city full of many different magical beings. Jenny has an encounter with the Greek fates in “Shining Nowhere but in the Dark.” She is nice to one of them and is visited by two of them at night, one fate claiming an interest in Jenny because she does not dream. Seeking help form various people, she must try to reconcile with her past. The author provides a poignant tale with a satisfying ending.

“Seven for a Secret” explores how magic can appear in anyone’s life, even among the homeless. William has many friends. One is the mysterious woman called Malicorne. People tell their stories to her and feel better. Jake,one of William’s friends, believes she is some kind of vampire and refuses to tell his story to her. They are all helped by Staley, a musician who plays a blue spirit fiddle. The story delivers a memorable climax for readers.

Magic can touch people, changing their lives in many ways. Mona publishes a comic. She is depressed from personal problems. On the way home one night, she gives some money to a man. He ends up staying with her until he can repay the favor. “My Life as a Bird” is a story with humor and magic touching realistic characters.

Charles de Lint writes wonderful stories of Urban Fantasy with a strong sense of wonder and sympathetic characters. His collection of Newford stories in Moonlight and Vines has many entertaining stories for readers to enjoy. Mr. de Lint continues to be a powerful contributor to the Fantasy genre.