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“Mesmerizing.... Any collection of McKillip’s short stories will be a valuable asset to any library and a joy to her many fans.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“Anybody who loves fantasy—not just for what most fantasy does, but for what the genre is really capable of—should definitely pick this book up. It’s like a perfect encapsulation of fantasy writing at its most brave and beautiful.”
“A casket full of wonders. I think each one is my favorite, until I read the next. McKillip has the true Mythopoeic imagination. Here lies the border between our world and that of Faerie.”
—P. C. Hodgell, author of the Kencyrath series
“This brilliant new collection puts on display the audacity, the warmth, the intelligence, and depth of [McKillip’s] huge and magnificent talent.”
—Peter Straub, author of Ghost Story and A Dark Matter
“The lively and enchanting stories in Wonders of the Invisible World certainly deserve all the accolades I can summon.”
—Paul Goat Allen, Barnes&Noble.com
“I loved all the stories in this collection, and if I still have to tell you to try this out, well, you haven’t been reading my review.... Patricia Mckillip is a master at what she does. Strongly recommended.”
“Wonders of the Invisible World is a wonderful collection of stories full of wit and insight wrapped in beautiful, effortless prose. McKillip’s ability to convey so much in so few words is impressive, as is her ability with storytelling, characterization, and thematic elements.”
“This is one to dip into, savour, and place on that special shelf for books to be cherished.”
“...she’s still one of the best fantasy writers out there.”
—Green Man Review
“Exquisitely written with destinations beyond your imaginings!”
—My Shelf Confessions
"McKillip's is the first name that comes to mind when I'm asked whom I read myself."
Peter S. Beagle, author, The Last Unicorn
The year 2013 marks the fortieth anniversary of the publication of Patricia McKillip's first novel. And while she has turned out a large number of award-winning books since then, an incredible and ever-burgeoning moonfleet of assured and distinctive fantasies, she's had only one prior short-story collection, Harrowing the Dragon, from 2005. So the arrival of another such volume, relatively soon after its predecessor, is an occasion to be marked with many celebrations. The lively and enchanting stories in Wonders of the Invisible World certainly deserve all the accolades I can summon.
McKillip's creations can be grouped into several different modes, each of which presents unique pleasures. First come stories set in recognizable, consensus-reality milieus, where the fantastical is something of an intrusion or manifestation of grace. The opening, titular story, a rare dystopian science fiction outing, falls glancingly into that bucket, although the technological apparatus is anomalous in her oeuvre. Next up is "The Kelpie," which concerns a group of Victorian or Edwardian bohemians whose obsessions with the stranger fringes of art lead to a dire encounter for one woman. A brother and sister encounter woodland guardians while visiting an uncle in "Hunter's Moon." A runaway teen finds her dreamed-of magical home in "Oak Hill." Art features again in "Jack O'Lantern," where an impending marriage is to be commemorated by a painting whose uncanny subject becomes all too real. Finally, "Naming Day" is a Harry Potter pastiche, while "Xmas Cruise" finds eerie doings aboard a "Rediscover Gaia" tourist expedition.
Most in line with her novels are those stories that occupy Tolkien-level "subcreations," worlds with independent existences from ours. "Out of the Woods" concerns the discontents of a village housewife who goes to work for a fledgling magician. In an urban setting, "The Fortune-Teller" charts a female pickpocket's epiphany. The longest and most complex tale in this category is "Knight of the Well," almost Wodehousian or Topperesque in its depiction of water sprites and the humans who attend them. And a magician makes the mistake of stealing a trinket from the Queen of Faerie in "Byndley."
Lastly are a few stories that most resemble fables or fairy tales, such as "The Twelve Dancing Princess" and "The Old Woman and the Storm."
This spectrum of narratives allows McKillip a real chance to stretch. She can evoke the eldritch melancholy of Yeats and Dunsany ("Out of the Woods"); the humor of E. Nesbit ("Knight of the Well"); or the layered magic realism of John Crowley ("The Kelpie"). Her prose is always restrained and subtle, allowing evocative metaphors to flash intermittently, like patches of sunlight in the forest. McKillip employs restraint and delicacy rather than melodrama, imparting greater resonance and power to these concise yet deep fantasies than is contained in any average trilogy.
Author of several acclaimed novels and story collections, including Fractal Paisleys, Little Doors, and Neutrino Drag, Paul Di Filippo was nominated for a Sturgeon Award, a Hugo Award, and a World Fantasy Award — all in a single year. William Gibson has called his work "spooky, haunting, and hilarious." His reviews have appeared in The Washington Post, Science Fiction Weekly, Asimov's Magazine, andThe San Francisco Chronicle.
Reviewer: Paul Di Filippo
Posted October 22, 2012
Posted October 18, 2012
This isn’t the sort of book I would pick up in my own short-sightedness; it’s also the sort of magical realism I truly enjoy. It’s the magic burbling up from the timeless wells deep under the earth. It’s the magic just below the surface of a painting or a pool. It’s the unseen magic of the ordinary that is more believable than the scientific explanation of a phenomenon. It’s the ancient magic of youth. It’s the magic of creation and curses. It’s the magic just beyond our view, and I’m glad to have caught a glimpse of it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.