• Title: A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories
  • Author: Robin McKinley
  • Released: 1994-05-31
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 195
  • ISBN: 0688092012
  • ISBN13: 978-0688092016
  • ASIN: 0688092012
From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal Grade 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
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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