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Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia…

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

by Patricia A. McKillip

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1891162,490 (3.87)22
Title:Wonders of the Invisible World
Authors:Patricia A. McKillip
Info:Tachyon Publications (2012), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:library book

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



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I forgot my book at work, and needed to buy something for the commute home. If I'm going to pay full price for something, it's going to have to be in support of an author I love: thus, this book.

Excellent, excellent stories - but I was disappointed, a bit, that I'd read most of them before. There's no previously-unpublished material here, except for the transcript of a speech McKillip gave at a con.

Wonders of the Invisible World - A bit of a strange choice for an opener, as it's a bit atypical of McKillip's writing. Very good story, but it reminded me quite a lot of Connie Willis or Kage Baker: a 'modern' time-traveller goes back to meet a religious fanatic (Cotton Mather) for academic purposes.

Out of the Woods - Here, McKillip uses a fantasy setting to illustrate a point, which one moght more-commonly expect to find in contemporary fiction, about how too much work and too many commitments can tear a relationship apart.

The Kelpie - (previously read in 'The Fair Folk') - Definitely one for anyone who loves the Pre-Raphaelites. The characters here are all fictional, but it takes place amidst a group of artists and models clearly modeled after Rossetti & co. A woman artist arrives on the scene, and is delighted to find another female painter who invites her participate in her salon... however, another artist pressures her into modeling for him, and his attentions soon progress to the level of blackmail. It takes an encounter with the titular kelpie to bring things to a head. Lovely, powerful story.

Hunter's Moon - Two children, visiting their relatives' rural hunting cabin, experience a dramatic encounter that may change how they view the world.

Oak Hill - A 'Bordertown' story. A runaway girl seeks magic - and finds it in a most unexpected place - within herself.

Fortune Teller - (previously read in 'Coyote Road'). A woman living a life of thievery and mischief meets a former compatriot who's 'gone straight' - and causes her to reassess her life choices.

Jack O'Lantern - (previously read in 'Firebirds Rising'). A young girl from a rather staid and upper-class family meets the young son of the painter who's been commissioned to paint her sister's bridal portrait. A small but magical adventure illustrates social roles, and barriers created by expectations.

Knight of the Well - A novella-length, well fleshed-out tale of a city brimming over with water magic and on the brink of disaster.

Naming Day - (previously read in 'Wizards'). A young woman eagerly anticipates her 'naming day,' when her magical academy conducts a ceremony in which the students choose their magical name. But her mother has a lesson about values to teach her daughter.

Byndley - (previously read in 'Firebirds'). A wizard on a long, hard quest, bearing an item stolen from the land of Faerie, enters a seemingly ordinary town - and learns that nothing may be as it seems.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses - (previously read in 'A Wolf at the Door'). A retelling of the classic fairy tale.

Undine - (previously read in 'The Faery Reel'). Sirens usually entrap human men a drag them under the waves... but when this one encounters an environmentalist fisherman, somehow things don't go as planned... and next thing she knows, she's out of water, and somehow being dragged around to a series of rallies for clean water, unable to find the unsullied place she needs...

Xmas Cruise - A surreal contemporary tale of a couple who take a cruise and are caught up in obsession. A nice commentary on the odd and stultifying nature on enclosed environments, artificial 'experiences' and planned activities.

A Gift to be Simple - The aging members of a celibate religious cult come up with a uniquely modern way of solving their problem of attrition. Nicely ambiguous - disturbing or uplifting?

The Old Woman and the Storm - (previously read in 'Imaginary Lands'). A beautiful story with the feel of an authentic legend. On a seemingly simple walk, a man experiences a mythological/existential crisis - and reaffirms him love of life and his wife.

The Doorkeeper of Khaat - Deceptively simple tale that deals with complex realities - differences between cultures, connections between humans, obligations and ethical choices. Reminded me a bit of Ursula LeGuin.

What Inspires Me - A speech by McKillip on her writing process. ( )
1 vote AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Considering they are short stories, and that is not a genre I love, the book was enjoyable. Patricia McKillip's writing is lovely, but I find that such a short dip into the worlds she creates is not long enough for me. I adore her novels. I like her short stories alright, though Harrowing the Dragon is really quite a wonderful story in the collection. Wish it were a whole novel. ( )
  mfieldswriter | Jun 5, 2015 |
Of all Patricia McKillip's writings, perhaps this one is the most accessible. The short stories seem to have a different tone to her longer works -- something less poetic, more matter of fact. It's a great collection: pretty much all of the stories are strong, and each one contains a whole world -- and each world is so very different from the next. There are some which are more like her novels, and oddly they seem to be ones which people who're fans of her novels like less, based on the review. Maybe it's because a novel may digress, may take time simply being lovely: poetry and short stories have to go right to the heart of it, whatever that heart is. Something that feels a bit too vague and artsy can come up totally inconclusive as a short story: that's how I felt about just a couple of these, particularly 'Xmas Cruise'. On the other hand, the twist and uncertainty in 'Hunter's Moon' works really well -- I'm just not sure that I'm meant to feel so vague about 'Xmas Cruise'. It made me feel like I was missing something.

Most of the time, though, the stories are pretty strong. I wasn't sure about some of them, and then they revealed themselves -- the Arthurian twist in 'Out of the Woods' made me smile, and the way it contrasts the two worlds by laying them side by side, never saying anything explicitly about one or the other world, how they fit together. I think my favourite story was 'Knight of the Well'; McKillip builds up a whole fantasy world, acquaints you wish it, turns it upside down and settles it down again in the space of what's still a pretty short story.

Overall, a great collection; McKillip's way with words remains a strength. The contemporary feel of a couple of these didn't sit that well with me, partly because I was expecting something more olde-worlde, something to match the mythical look of the cover. Other people might find it the best 'in' to McKillip's work they've ever had, though. ( )
  shanaqui | Nov 23, 2014 |
Exquisitely written with destinations beyond your imagining!

Reviewed @ My Shelf Confessions

Patricia A. McKillip is a master of the written word! Wonders of the Invisible World is my first foray into her delightful imagination and it will not be the last! I am a lover of short stories. In my mind it takes as much skill if not more to write a successfully engaging short story then to write a novel. This is because the short has so few words within it to paint pictures and make you fall in love with it’s world and characters. Tell me you don’t think that takes a lot of talent!

The stories in this anthology filled me with a sort of quiet happiness that stayed with me long after I finished reading. Normally I enjoy anthologies slowly, reading one story at a time between reading a regular length novel. But I could not put Wonders of the Invisible World down! For any lover of all things magical and mystical you simply must pick up this anthology!

Wonders of the Invisible World
In a future where anything you can imagine is possible, researchers travel into the past to learn about human history. One researcher goes masquerading as an angel that appears to someone during the Witch Hunts. When she comes back she is risked with futile for not trying to stop the atrocities.

Out of the Woods
A young woman agrees to work for a local scholar who is studying to be a mage. She starts to realize she is unhappy with her life and is mostly invisible to her husband and employer. As she works all day and late into the nights, she sees magical things again and again but no one listens to her. It’s a rather slow moving and somber tale but one I believe is full of hidden messages for the reader.

The Kelpie
I admit I was almost completely thru this short (It’s one of the longer ones in this anthology) and u was beginning to wonder when the heck the kelpie would come into it. I was delighted in how it was worked in. This was a wonderful story of life, overcoming obstacles and being true to yourself and of course love. Mostly though it’s the life oh a young female artist, meeting her love and how she is trying to get recognition for female art work and the awful man she has to put up with to accomplish that.

Hunter’s Moon
Dawn is lost in the forest with her younger brother when a quiet stranger leads them back to their uncle’s hunting cabin. The next day while the men are all out hunting Dawn and the young man take a lovely walk thru the Woods. I found this enchanting and was sad it ended when it did.

Oak Hill
Maris is a runaway, trying to find Bordertown so that she can learn magic. She doesn’t know how to get there but is determined she will. When she finally does she must convince someone to teach her magic. An interesting story but I didn’t feel as string of a connection with Maris as I would have liked, perhaps because we didn’t get her back story at all.

The Fortune Teller
Some people think they can make their way in life by taking things from others. Stealing things here and there, with theft second nature and thinking it their due, Merle is one such person. Her philosophy is why not take for free anything that is put in her path? I loved how dirty of a street urchin she is! But one day she takes the livelihood odd another and an old lover makes her see just how much less he thinks of her. Definitely one of my favorites in this anthology! Even more so for how the story ends.

Jack O’Lantern
Jenny is growing up as is her eldest sister who is soon to be married. She is inquisitive and knows that she is expected to be something and someone that really isn’t who she is at heart. When she has a chance to snatch away a few moments top enjoy the remnants of her childhood she rushes headlong into them and experiences a taste of magic. Jenny is a character I instantly bonded with and I think any female might. I simply loved her.

Knight of the Well
Fascinating world building where the people revere water and the creatures that live there. The upcoming yearly water ceremony and dedication of a new fountain is being plagued by trouble by creatures of the water realm. A particularly surly Knight of the Well, is tasked to find out why. This is the longest story in the book at around 60 pages. It was so rich in detail and I loved the idea of this world ask much that I would love to see this as a full length book.

Naming Day
A school where you learn magic! Averil is one of the top ranked students, but she seems full of herself and a bit selfish. Her mother is on the fritz, so stressed out from raising her 4yo brother and not getting help from her husband or Averil. But all Averil is concerned about is her upcoming Naming Day and a certain boy from school. This is more definitely one of my favorites in this anthology. We see Averil undergo such amazing character growth and I love her mother!

A worn wizard, traveling in search of a way back into Faerie. Tired from the weight he carries, something previous he stole from the Queen when he was a young man. He stood in a town and shares his tale. And what a tale this is! Each story I’m amazed again at McKillip’s skill with the written word. She weaves you right into her worlds and leaves you asking for more of their magic.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses
Do you know the story of the 12 Dancing Princesses? Each night their father, the King locks them into their bed chamber and tasked a young man with discovering why each morning their shoes are worn out due m from dancing each night. I have always loved this story and McKillip did a wonderful job of telling it!

I wonder if McKillip has a fascination with water faeries, she certainly does then well. Undine is a lovely creature gone on search if her first mortal husband. Who she meets and what brings of her she never could have expected. I adored the twist thrown at her! So ironic and just.

Xmas Cruise
I’m jealous of this couple that is on the cruise. I’ve always wanted to take an Arctic Cruise. This one sounded absolutely lovely, however I think the plot points were a bit lacking…our perhaps they were just lost on me.

A Gift to be Simple
They are growing old and all of the children this religious group of do gooders has raised have left them years ago. Slowly one Sister realizes that they are getting so old and that they may die and no one will be left to believe in their religion. So she comes up with an ingenious plan. I didn’t like this one much at first because of how saturated it was by their religion but it grew on me and I liked the direction it went.

The Old Woman and the Storm
A man wakes and goes for a walk through the woods. He sees many beautiful things along the way, until he is caught in a storm. I have to admit I didn’t know where this one was going until the end.

The Doorkeeper of Khaat
A poet living the life of a struggling artist, not because he has to but because he wants to. He once lived a woman who leaves him to return to the land of her heritage, a dangerous war torn country but one filled with mysteries. I don’t know exactly how to describe what the core of this story is about but it is beautiful. The man trades the dying wish, literally, for his own possible death.

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review. All opinions are completely my own* ( )
2 vote Pabkins | May 2, 2014 |
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. ( )
1 vote catfantastic | Apr 9, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patricia A. McKillipprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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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