I seem to be reading a fair number of short works lately. Rest assured that I'll be back on the novel track pretty soon. But first....
When I grow up, I want to write like Patricia McKillip.
McKillip's fantasy novels are almost all told in a lyrical, once-upon-a-time voice. I marvel at her ability to sustain that voice throughout an entire novel. (When I met her, I told her so. She thanked me and said, "It's hard." Yeah, I can just imagine.)
Some of the stories in this collection have that same fairy-tale feel to them; one, "Kelpie," has an Edwardian artiste feel, with a dollop of faerie; and a couple of them feel very modern.
The title story tells about a time-traveling researcher who is sent back to meet Cotton Mather; the result felt darker to me than Connie Willis's books on the same general topic.
My favorites in this collection are probably "Byndley," in which a mage tries desperately to find his way back to an enchanted wood, so he can return something he stole from the fairy queen who lives there; and "The Doorkeeper of Khaat," the final story, in which a young poet agrees to help his terminally-ill father end his life.
But we're talking about minor degrees of favoritism here. I can't think of a single story in this collection that I hated. If you've never read any McKillip, this collection would be a good way to sample her work. Highly recommended.
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