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Robin McKinley & Peter Dickinson
book cover

2002, June, G.P. Putnam's Sons
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Who recommends: Edith, Preeti, Isabel
Who discommends:

There is a direct correlation between the stories I liked in WATER: TALES OF ELEMENTAL SPIRITS, by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson, and how much romance there was in them. This means that I enjoyed The Sea-King's Son, Kraken, and A Pool in the Desert the most.

Even though this water-themed anthology began with a Peter Dickinson story, I skipped straight to the first Robin McKinley one, The Sea-King's Son. It ended up being my favorite. The love between a young farm girl and the sea-king's son leads the humans and the sea-people to end their bitter estrangement. Romantic and satisfying. Usual beautiful writing.

I next skipped to McKinley's Damar story. This was less satisfying. A trod upon modern-day British girl ends up traveling to Damar's past and becoming a legend. It was a hopeful story, but I liked it for revisiting Damar rather than any intrinsic qualities. Her third story was okay. Okay, it was boring.

Then I tried to read the Dickinson stories and found I really don't like his voice. Maybe it's a guy thing, but he took inordinate time to describe the mechanics of things about which I could not care less. Kraken was my favorite of his because it was driven by a love story, and also because it reminded me of Kara Dalkey's Water Trilogy.

To my shame, I haven't been able to get through McKinley's ROSE DAUGHTER or SPINDLE'S END despite multiple tries, so am feeling a strong sense of rediscovery from reading WATER. I wonder if we can expect to see collections themed around other elements?--Preeti (22 Apr 03)

I did borrow WATER from the library last year and even finished it. I do seem to recall that WATER was pleasant enough. I breezed through McKinley's contributions but had to use a little force to finish Dickinson's stories. However, none of McKinley's short stories are of the same caliber as her best books (some of my all time favourites) and it's not a collection that I see myself rereading over time although I will acquire a paperback copy sometime.--Isabel (29 Apr 03)

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