Monday, January 9, 2012

A Knot in the Grain and other stories by Robin McKinley

book cover

A Knot in the Grain and other stories
by Robin McKinley

ISBN-13: 9780064406048
Trade Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Harper Trophy
Released: May 1994

Source: Bought from Amazon some years ago.

Book Description from Goodreads:
A mute healer who meets the one man who can hear her thoughts, an abandoned princess who discovers the truth behind the mysterious stagman, a modern girl who finds the knot in the grain which leads her on a magical mission--these are a few of the characters in these five tales.

My Review:
A Knot in the Grain is a short story collection of Middle Grade fantasy stories. I enjoyed Robin McKinley's novels set in Damar (The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown) so I bought this book hoping to learn more about Damar. Two of the stories were set in Damar, but you won't know it from any other generic fantasy world if Luthe (a character from the novels) didn't briefly appear in them. We don't learn anything new about him, either.

Most of the stories follow the plot line of: a character has a problem, magic help comes along, the problem is fixed. The heroine generally doesn't have a difficult obstacle to overcome so much as a decision to make.

I felt like needed information was missing in some of the stories. The heroine in "The Stagman" was very passive, and the characters' weren't developed (or their motives really explained). "The Healer" was interesting and had a developed setting and characters, but I felt like too many things were left unresolved at the end. I've never really understood the magic part of "The Knot in the Grain."

"Buttercups" started well, but the conflict resolved too quickly and easily. "Touk's House" was the best written of the five: it had some conflict as well as good setting and character development. And it resolved everything at the end.

There was a minor amount of explicit bad language. There were no sex scenes. Overall, the stories were a mixed bag. Robin McKinley's fans might enjoy reading these stories, but I wouldn't recommend buying the book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

1 comment:

Laura Fabiani said...

I like the book cover, but it looks like this one didn't meet your expectations. You're welcome to link it to the Short Story Challenge Review Link Page if you like.