Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillip
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This collection of High Fantasy short stories is mixed in with "Something Rich and Strange", a novella thrown in for very good measure, and it's easily my most favorite story of the bunch.
I've never read Patricia A. McKillip before, although hers is a name I've seen often over the years. After reading this, I'm proud to say I'm quite pleased to finally get to it. :) She's got a deep fascination with all manner of beasties, from Irish folklore to Greek, from witches of many breeds to merfolk of wonderful quantity and different quality. More than anything, though, and easily the high point of the reading, is the way she juxtaposes solidly grounded locations and situations and characters of one magical type with tropes of a completely different breed, slipping in between each realm as easily as a selkie switches between land and sea. Sure, you can say that a lot of good authors do this already, but McKillip takes it deeper, explores more fully, and never insults our intelligence.
Even from the first line of each tale, we're thrown right into the middle of things, and isn't that always what we expect in good fiction? Moreover, I was quite pleased to feel the magic, to be submerged into the awe.
Every story was more or less very good. I liked the zingers in "Weird" and "Edith and Henry Go Motoring" probably the most, while I eventually felt the best, overall, about "The Gorgon in the Cupboard", but it was really "Something Rich and Strange" that managed to blow me away. Or drown me, as the case may be. The payoff in the last story was really something to behold.
You might say it was a real treat to swim with the fishes. All these dreams of distant shores just got a lot closer, and if you're a fan of modern High Fantasy that still manages to be fresh and new, I definitely recommend this.
My only concern was the fact that while I did eventually get into the characters, it was always a bit slow-going for me. It might be only my concern and not a fault of the writing. I always enjoyed each by the end.
Thanks to Netgalley for the honor of the ARC!
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