A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories

A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories

4.5 4
by Robin McKinley

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Lily. A woman with power to heal, but no powers of speech. Then she meets a mage—-a man who can hear the words she forms only in her mind. Will he help her find her voice?

Ruen. A princess whose uncle leaves her deep in a cave to die at the hands of a stagman. But when she meets the stagman at last, Ruendiscovers fatehas a few surprises in store for


Lily. A woman with power to heal, but no powers of speech. Then she meets a mage—-a man who can hear the words she forms only in her mind. Will he help her find her voice?

Ruen. A princess whose uncle leaves her deep in a cave to die at the hands of a stagman. But when she meets the stagman at last, Ruendiscovers fatehas a few surprises in store for her.

Erana, As a baby, she is taken be a witch in return for the healing herbs her father stole from the witch's garden. Raised alongsidethe witch's troll son, Erana learns that love comes in many forms.

Coral. A beautiful young newcomerwho catches the eye of an older widowed farmer. He can't believe his good fortune when Coral consents to be his wife. But then the doubts set in—-what is it that draws Coral to Butter Hill?

Annabelle. When her family moves, the summer befre her junior year of High School, Annabelle spends all her time in the attic of their new house—until she finds the knot in the gain which leads her on a magical mission.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The strange, rich magic of fairy tales is amplified and made highly personal in five stories by Newbery Medalist McKinley ( The Hero and the Crown ). A pragmatic, unapologetic feminism infuses each tale: while McKinley's adventurous heroines certainly do not eschew love, neither do they pine after princes and castles. Instead, each of these down-to-earth young women actively seeks a partner--however unusual--who suits her. Lily, the mute heroine of ``The Healer,'' meets a fallen mage who can understand her thoughts and eventually helps her regain her voice. In ``The Stagman,'' Queen Ruen abandons her royal husband for the shape-changing beast that rescued her from her cruel uncle's abuse. A maiden in ``Touk's House'' rejects a prince's hand in marriage in favor of the turquoise-eyed half-troll she has known and, she comes to realize, has loved all her life. In the moving and exhilarating tale ``Buttercups,'' the honesty and hard work of an old farmer and his much younger wife transform what could have been a supernatural disaster into a rare and fruitful blessing. The title story, set in contemporary upstate New York, chronicles both a girl's encounter with a mysterious box she finds hidden in a secret attic in her family's new house and her gradual, prosaic adjustment to life in a small town, far away from her old home and friends. A thrilling, satisfying and thought-provoking collection. Ages 12-up. (May)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 7-12-The mythical world of Damar, featured in The Hero and the Crown (1984) and The Blue Sword (1982, both Greenwillow), is the setting for four of the five stories in this uneven collection. Damar's medieval atmosphere serves as a perfect backdrop for tales of magic and mysterious events. However, for those who haven't read the novels, there is little clarification of details that crop up from them. The sorcerer Luthe, an integral character in both Hero and Sword, appears in two of these stories, but his significance is not explained. The strength of plot development varies; it is at its best in ``Touk's House.'' Less convincing is ``The Stagman,'' in which the passive princess Ruen, rescued by the Stagman from her evil uncle who usurped her kingdom, now joins the beast/man, leaving her husband after 20 years of apparently happy marriage. The collection's anomaly, though delightful, is the title story. Set in the present day, it is the tale of a teenager who prevents the destruction of her small town by a superhighway-with the help of a mysterious box she finds in the attic. It is misplaced among the Damarian stories, but reveals this talented author's ability to utilize various settings, and whets readers' appetites for more modern-day fantasy from her. All in all, a mixed bag, but one that will be enjoyed by fans of McKinley's earlier books.-Mary Jo Drungil, Niles Public Library District, IL
Frances Bradburn
Again, McKinley treats readers to stories from the world of Damar--four, in fact--that feature her remarkable talent for melding the real and the magical into a single, believable whole. The fifth and title selection, however, is set in the present, a story of a teenager who must move with her family to a new community that is protesting the building of a new superhighway through its boundaries. The four Damar stories are subtle, intriguing romances featuring mages, healers, witches, and overwhelming buttercups. Each is a love story, beautifully sensuous yet never sexual, certain to hold the attention of that special, older young adult reader. The fifth, although excellent in its own right, is jarring juxtaposed against the other, more magical--almost delicate--selections. Interestingly enough, it may be the most widely read of the collection because of its modern setting and environmental message.

Product Details

San Val, Incorporated
Publication date:
Edition description:
11200 San Val
Product dimensions:
5.37(w) x 7.68(h) x 0.71(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Robin McKinley's other books include the Newbery Award-winning The Hero and the Crown; Newbery Honor Book The Blue Sword; Sunshine; Spindle's End; Rose Daughter; Deerskin; The Outlaws of Sherwood; and the short story collections The Door in the Hedge; A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories; and, with her husband, the author Peter Dickinson, Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits. She lives in England with her husband, three whippets, and over five hundred rosebushes.

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Knot in the Grain and Other Stories 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the story of girls not so dainty, but stubborn and plowing through any trouble that comes there way. I understand all but the last story. But all in all I like it, love it even. I am never disappointed, and I am a good judge in good books. This is great!!!!! :-)
Anonymous 10 months ago
Very satisfying read, even if they are short stories. I agree with another reviewer that the last story felt sort of strange.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Classic Robin McKinley (not like the recent ones where she panders to current vampire fads) -- gorgeous writing about magical places with strong heroines who come through in tough situations!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago