Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 266
Format : Fantasy/Fairy Tale Anthology
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge

Six tales from husband and wife team Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson. They are all based on water, it is subtitled "Tales of Elemental Spirits" and each story has a different magical water being. It is a very powerful collection and I found something to enjoy in all six tales.

Mermaid Song - Peter Dickinson

Pitiable lives with her grandparents. Her mother was expelled from the People when she chose to marry outside her clan and died giving birth. Her grandmother Mercy tells her the story of their ancestor Charity Goodrich who met some sea-people as a child who helped save her life. After Mercy's death, her grandfather treats Pitiable like a slave beating her and expecting her to work like a dog. One day her life is changed when she meets a sea-child herself.

The Sea-Kings Song - Robin McKinley

Jenny is hard working and intelligent, but not beautiful and is hidden by her shyness. She becomes betrothed to a beautiful young man who is more interested in her inhertiance than her. He ends up breaking her heart as predicted leading her to take a short cut home over a bridge that has been cursed by the Sea King after he was treated badly by the landfolk. Instead of killing her he lets her go after she speaks so highly of her love for her family. His son is intrigued by the girl who helped his father let go of her rage and strives to meet her.

Sea Serpent - Peter Dickinson

Iril chews the leaf and dreams the wave. He takes ona contract for Mel, a Priest for the Father-God to take stones from Siron a Priestess of the Earth-Mother whose religion is dwindling. Doing so causes Siron to unleash a fearsome sea serpent which tries to stop them taking the stones. Iril and his son Jarro need to work together to defeat it.

Water Horse - Robin McKinley

Tamia lives with her family where she isn't appreciated before leaving to be an apprentice to the Guardian Western Mouth. The Guardians keep the sea from drowning their island and the lands behind. When Western Mouth has a stroke Tamia summons help using the gold stones in the water pool, but accidentally opens the way for a ferocious water horse which is dealing a vast amount of damage to the land. She opened the way and so she must be the one to send it back to the sea. Perhaps her affinity with animals, especially horses will help her.

Kraken - Peter Dickinson

When two lovers dive off a boat being boarded by pirates rather than be captured, mermaid and King's daughter Ailsa and her blue-fin Carn decide to save their bodies. On diving below the limit Ailsa feels the limit, cold and deadly. As she tows the bodies back to her father the limit begins to rise and she senses a dark, other presence following her. A kraken has awoken and is interested in the humans as well as Ailsa and is keeping the couple alive in a suspended animation.

A Pool in the Desert - Robin McKinley

Hetta dreams of the desert and begins to travel there in her dreams. She is saved from a sandstorm by a Watcher named Zasharan. The dreams are so vivid and in her waking life she begins to research the strange land she emerged in that felt so life like. It turns out to be a real place, but she is meeting people from legend rather than real history. She tries to find a way to get there and one day her sister helps her notice an unusual newt in their pond which opens the way.

My favourite was Water Horse, it was a great story filled with magic but of a practical nature and was something a little different. Other favourites were The Sea-King's Son and Sea Serpent. My least favourite was Kraken which started like a rip off of The Little Mermaid which is a story I love. They are supposed to be teaming up to do a series of these anthologies of different elements and Peter's site says he has written some of them. I do hope they complete the series as this was an extrememly enjoyable collection.

6 comments:

Kailana said...

I had no idea that Peter Dickinson was Robin McKinley's husband for the longest time! I hated the couple books I have tried by him. This book is on my TBR pile, though, so I guess it is a good chance to see if that opinion has changed!

Nymeth said...

Debi gave me a copy of this book a while ago, and I was looking at it just the other day and thinking I should get to it soon! Now I want to even more.

Cath said...

I keep seeing this in the library so must grab it sometime as it sounds very good. I also Have Peter Dickinson's The Ropemaker on my tbr pile and in my pool of books for the OUaT challenge. *Hoping* to read it.

Alice Teh said...

Each story has an intriguing title and now that I'm a member of the national library, I'll check it out to see if it's available. :D

Ladytink_534 said...

I think Robin McKinley is a great author and I love any kind of fantasy like this so I may have to give it a try. The whole water thing is very intriguing!

Darla D said...

I hadn't even heard of this one - it sounds great! And I like the idea of a collaboration between a husband/wife team.