Harrowing the Dragon
By: Patricia A. McKillip
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
A fantasist without equal, Patricia A. McKillip has created worlds of intricate beauty and unforgettably nuanced characters. For 25 years, she’s drawn readers into her spell, spinning modern-day fables with a grace rarely seen.Now she presents a book of previously uncollected short stories, full of beautiful dragons, rueful princesses, and handsome bards, and written in the gorgeous – and often surprisingly funny – prose she’s known for. This is her world, wrapped up in the finery of fairy tales.
Whoo-hoo, picked up another Patricia A. McKillip book some time ago 🙂 This is an earlier collection of short stories by her featured in various publications. What strikes me about this collection is that it feels a lot more like her novels than her later short story collectiom, Wonders of the Invisible World (review). Fairy tales, mysteries, strange magics, and love, this is classic Patricia McKillip. Like many short story writers, I’m amazed at how much story and magic and mystery she’s able to tell and infuse in such a short span of time/word count.
While the collection is quite eclectic–from Baba Yaga to even a story set after Romeo and Juliet–it is a bit of a mixed bag; I found that some stories were more interesting than others. My favourite stories from this collection would have to be “The Harrowing of the Dragon of Hoarsbreath”, “Baba Yaga and the Sorcerer’s Son”, “The Snow Queen” (I thought this one was really sad; it’s also the only one in the collection that’s more or less set in our world), “The Stranger”, “The Lion and the Lark”, and “Star-Crossed.” “A Matter of Music” was the longest of the collection and was fleshed out enough that it could’ve been a novel of its own.
Overall, Harrowing the Dragon is a nice collection of stories that once again showcases Patricia A. McKillip’s imagination and storytelling skills. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of her novels and/or are a fantasy reader.