A fantasy collection based on the theme of sea magic, from husband & wife Peter Dickinson and Robin McKinley.
Id say, as far as reading level, this book is probably aimed at young teens, but like classic fairytales, the stories are such as can be enjoyed by all Young women striving against repressive environments is a recurring theme hardly a new motif, but its generally done effectively. The ending of the last story made me cry!
Mermaid Song PD
A young girl in a strict, Puritan-type community is able to pay back a generations-old secret debt and also escape her abusive home life.
The Sea-Kings Son RM
A young woman narrowly avoids marrying a man who does not love her and finds a more magical future; in the process eliminating a curse that has lain on her village for years.
Sea Serpent PD
A fantasy of the end of the times of the chthonic goddess, and her replacement by the gods of men, and their courage and ingenuity. A surprisingly non-strident voice is used to describe the mens theft of the standing stones of the goddess, and their heroic battle against the priestess sea serpent.
Water Horse RM
A young and unappreciated woman travels from her village to apprentice as a Guardian one of the magicians who guards their island against the encroachment of the waves. Although unprepared and untried, her unconventional perspective may save her people.
A pair of illicit lovers jumps into the sea as a last resort a young mermaid princess tries to save them, but the unknown kraken of the depths may take more than just the bodies of the drowned lovers
A Pool in the Desert RM
Set in the world of Damar (The Blue Sword, The Hero & the Crown). A young woman in a restrictive family environment has been having vivid dreams of a vibrant desert land it seems real, but when she looks up names and places on the Internet and in the encyclopedia, the nomenclature is out of long-ago legend and myth. Will she have to give up on her dreams and settle for obeying her father and keeping the accounts for his dreary shop?
Two generally brilliant writers alternate first-rate tales in this six-story collection. McKinley allows hearts' desires to be achieved in all three of her contributions: one young woman braves a curse and falls in love with "The Sea-King's Son"; another discovers her own subtle kind of magic in defeating a giant, wildly destructive "Water Horse." A third dreams of Damar, the setting of McKinley's Blue Sword (1982) and Hero and the Crown (1984, both Greenwillow), then finds a way to travel there, escaping through space and time from a soul-deadening existence. In Dickinson's tales, which are darker in tone, a "Mermaid Song" helps an abused child escape her violent father; a lame ferryman, caught in a struggle between old gods and new, battles an immense "Sea Serpent"; and while helping to save human lovers from drowning, a mer-princess draws the attention of an immortal, coldly alien "Kraken" from the deeps. The masterfully written stories all feature distinct, richly detailed casts and settings, are free of the woodenly formal language that plagues so much fantasy, and focus as strongly on action as on character. There's plenty here to excite, enthrall, and move even the pickiest readers.
Excellent short stories. Includes on Damar story.
I don't often read short stories, but I made an exception for this book - mainly because I love McKinley. I had never read anything by Dickinson, but was willing to give him a shot too. In short, I really loved this collection. I'm really excited to read the next one (I think Fire is next). There was only one story in there that I thought was rather boring. Otherwise, all the stories held my interest and I liked all the characters.
The stories are measured and interesting, well told and flow well together. There is an overwhelming theme of girls being overrun by their mean, ungrateful families; a little more variation would have made the book more enjoyable. It's a good read and the stories are appropriate to read to kids at bedtime.