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Wonders of the Invisible World (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Patricia A. McKillip

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102None117,578 (3.81)12
Member:wookiebender
Title:Wonders of the Invisible World
Authors:Patricia A. McKillip
Info:Tachyon Publications (2012), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:library book

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Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia A. McKillip (2012)

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Wonders of the Invisible World is a collection of short stories by Patricia McKillip. For the record I love short stories, though I am not really familiar with McKillip's work. I have heard a lot about her, but I've only read one of her other short stories, "Snow Drop," which was collected in the multi-author anthology Snow White, Blood Red.

I get the feeling that this collection of short stories may not have been the ideal introduction to her. I had a hard time getting into this collection. McKillip is a writer of luxurious sentences and slow pacing. I think partly I wasn't in the right frame of mind. I found the stories, while not bad in any technical way, just not what I was in the mood for and largely forgettable. The writing itself is very beautiful, but I didn't always connect with the stories.

Wonders of the Invisible World - a science fiction story. The main character has been hired by the Researchers' Terminus to dress as an angel and appear to a Puritan author in colonial New England.

Out of the Woods - a fantasy story. A woodcutter's wife gets a job as a housekeeper to an eccentric scholar who moves to their village. She begins to witness magical occurrences, but neither her husband nor the scholar believe her.

The Kelpie focuses on a group of painters and poets. Two of the painters, Bonham and Wilding, fall in love with a tall, mythical-looking woman named Emma, who wants to be a painter herself. Looking at other reviews, this seems to be a lot of people's favourite, but it didn't really do anything for me.

Hunter's Moon Dawn and her baby brother are visiting her deer-hunting uncle at his cabin in the woods when she meets a mysterious young man who loves nature and animals, and is more than he seems. This is a beautiful story and one that I really liked.

Oak Hill is an urban fantasy with a feeling and atmosphere like those by Charles de Lint. An eccentric young girl who believes she is ugly runs away to learn magic in the city and finds a beautiful but cold-hearted Elf/biker - but how can she convince him to teach her? A dream from the old forest gives her an answer. A nice urban fantasy story.

The Fortune-Teller a thief-girl steals an old homeless woman's tarot cards, but they are strange cards full of crows, spiders and a Lady Death. A very short story that felt like there should have been a bit more to it.

Jack O'Lantern another historical fantasy about artists. The young protagonist must participate in a wedding portrait for her older sister's arranged marriage. I just can't get into these leisurely Victorian fantasies.

Naming Day a teenage girl at a magic school is to involved with her own life to pay attention to her busy, tired mother.

Byndley a wizard searches for a way back into the Faerie realm and comes to the village Byndley.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses a very beautiful version of the fairy tale. One of my favourite pieces in this collection.

Undine - an undine rises out of her magical home undersea to capture her first husband, but when she comes into the mortal world she finds herself stranded with a sweet guy. A really lovely story. I liked this one a lot, too.

My personal favourites from this collection were Hunter's Moon, Twelve Dancing Princesses and Undine, but overall I wasn't blown away by this collection. Just not my cup of tea, I guess. ( )
  catfantastic | Apr 9, 2013 |
[Wonders of the Invisible World] by [[Patricia A. McKillip]] is a delightful and wonder-filled collection of short stories by the long time master of fantasy. My instinctive reaction was to give this collection 5 stars, but my standard for 5 stars is quite high: Will the work be still popular and discussed in 50 years? This might happen with Patricia McKillip's work, but I do not know for sure.

Comparing her with Tolkien is instructive for those who are not familiar with her work. Like Tolkien, she is a master of the English language. But where Tolkien writes in verse, interspersed with prose, which is poetic in its beauty, Ms. McKillip writes prose as if she is writing poetry. She creates beautiful descriptions with an economy of words, while also creating evocative images that resonate long after the characters and even the plot are forgotten.

Using another metaphor, I would compare Tolkien's works, [The Hobbit], [The Lord of the Rings], and [The Simarillion] to great architecture. But McKillip's works, even her novels, are more like jewels: each one perfect and beautiful, with no missing or superfluous words. Think of her as Faberge for fantasy stories. ( )
1 vote jjvors | Mar 31, 2013 |
Let me just start by saying that I love Patricia McKillip. Yes, that does mean that my comments are already biased. I'm okay with that. This collection of previously published stories is also something I'm okay with. Despite the fact that I already owned three-quarters of the stories collected here in other forms, I enjoyed revisiting McKillip's short work because she is simply an excellent writer. While not all of these stories are her very best -- keep in mind that this is by no means her only collection -- there are a great many gems, including a story about artists that I thought I remembered, but didn't quite, and therefore was surprised and delighted by its grace all over again.

Grace is a good keyword here... McKillip is at her best with space for long lines and graceful, dreamlike descriptions. While some of the shorter stories are entertaining and not much else -- a recommendation that lesser writers would love to own -- the longer pieces create the same delicious sensation of envelopment and escape for which her novels are justly famous. "The Kelpie" (the aforementioned story of artists) and "Knight of the Well" in particular stayed with me for days after I read them. Some of the stories are creepy, some enchanting, and some bright and brilliant, but all are worth reading, as is the lecture printed at the end, a grace note in and of itself. ( )
3 vote beserene | Mar 25, 2013 |
Difficult to review - a collection of unrelated short fiction that Patricia's written over the years. I don't think her writing style quite works best at short story length. Patricia is an author I've been wanting to read more of for some time, but her work is surprisingly difficult and expenseive to get hold of in the UK. This collection of short stories was a cheap introduction, but you get what you pay for, and I don't think it is the best of her work.

I was expecting a collection of pure fantasy stories, but thises are mostly modern takes on tradional Sidhe characters. There are Undines, Kelpies, the Wild Hunt and similar folk interacting withe the 'real' world. I's call it Urban Fantasy - but these days that has more of a gritty city living vibe that these stories don't. As is always the case some of these stories work better than others, and which you prefer will be down to you. Despite only finishing the book yesterday I don't really remember any of hte stories on their own that well. - which is probably as damming an enditement as necessary. They weren't bad at all, just lacking in that powerful impact a really well written short story can have.I know one or two f them just stopped, and left me thinking what was the point of that? But others were better, though did seem to be more set up for a longer novel. There is a lengthy Afterword where Patricia explains some of her motivation for wrtiting, which is slightly different than that uttered by many other writers I've heard on a similar theme.

Readable, enjoyabel in places, but probably more for curious fans, than as an introduction to her work. ( )
1 vote reading_fox | Mar 19, 2013 |
A collection of short stories by one of the best fantasists out there.
  LibraryGirl11 | Feb 9, 2013 |
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Stylistically rooted in fairy tale and mythology, McKillip explores imperceptible landscapes in these stories. There are princesses dancing with dead suitors, a knight in love with an official of exotic lineage, and fortune's fool stealing into the present instead of the future. In one tale, a time-traveling angel is forbidden to intervene in Cotton Mather's religious ravings, while another narrative finds a wizard seduced in his youth by the Faerie Queen and returning the treasure that is rightfully hers. This collection draws elements from the fables of history and re-creates them in startlingly magical ways--www.FantasticFiction.com.… (more)

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