Review: Wonders of the Invisible World / Author: Patricia McKillip / Publisher: Tachyon Publications / Release Date: October 1st
For over thirty years, Patricia McKillip has been beguiling readers with dreamy, opulently written fantasies, and this new collection of short stories continues in that fine tradition. The title could hardly be more apt, as for the most part these tales concern themselves with those fleeting moments when reality seems to fray a little at the edges, creating a dizzying vista into the unknown.
Many are bitter-sweet in mood, and about half of them are small masterpieces. One of the longest and best, The Kelpie, involves a turbulent love triangle between a beautiful girl with artistic ambitions, her gallant, good-natured beau and an influential but caddish painter who wants her to model for him; the ensuing conflict finally leads her to discover her own identity as an artist and as a person in the most unexpected and dramatic way. In another tale, the housekeeper of a scholar studying to become a great magician is distracted from her daily drudgery by glimpses of strange, mythological figures in the surrounding forest – magic is where you least expect it, and can be experienced by anyone with an open mind.
McKillip's prose – compact and poetical, yet also tough and humorous – is ideally suited to capturing the fragile visions that occasionally haunt, but just as often uplift, her characters. As a result, this is one to dip into, savour and place on that special shelf for books to be cherished.