This fantasy anthology, boasting some of the best writers in the genre today, will be a disappointment to all but the most easily pleased. Each story is linked by its firm placement in its imaginary setting, which is supposed to evoke in readers both wonder and familiarity. Unfortunately, these stories evoke only tedium and confusion, the major exception being McKinley's own entry, ``The Stone Fey,'' a beautifully written love story set in Damar. While stories from James Blaylock, Patricia McKillip, Robert Westall and P. C. Hodgell are merely slight, the biggest disappointments are the stories from Peter Dickenson, whose ``Flight'' is more of a writer's notebook than a story; Jane Yolen, with a slim retelling of the forging of Excalibur; and Joan D. Vinge's brief version of the Tam Lin legend. Given the lack of quality from ``name'' writers, it's too bad McKinley didn't anthologize her own work. (12-upst)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up An exciting anthology of fantasy stories, all set in particularly vivid imaginary places and specially commissioned for this volume. The stories show variety and balance in their length, subject matter and style, featuring both male and female protagonists, some young and some not so young. James P. Blaylock describes a marvelously strange California of giant crabs and artificial dragons in his enchanting mood piece ``Paper Dragons,'' while Robert Westall's charming tale of a lost underground town preserved in the tunnels of a salt mine ``The Big Rock Candy Mountain'' contrasts with the poetic mysticism of Patricia A. McKillip's ``The Old Woman and the Storm.'' Although P. C. Hodgell's ``Stranger Blood'' begins with a confusing presentation of background and family histories, complicated by the fact that every other name seems to begin with K, it rapidly becomes a terrific tale of blood, skulls and magic. Also beguiling are the dry wit of Peter Dickinson's pseudo-historical document ``Flight'' and the extremely appealing heroine in the editor's ``The Stone Fey.'' Well-wrought stories by Jane Yolen, Michael de Larrabeiti and Joan D. Vinge round out this superlative collection. Lyle Blake Smythers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.