By: Patricia A. McKillip
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley
Hidden away from the world by his mother, the powerful sorceress Heloise Oliver, Pierce has grown up working in her restaurant in Desolation Point. One day, unexpectedly, strangers pass through town on the way to the legendary capital city. “Look for us,” they tell Pierce, “if you come to Severluna. You might find a place for yourself in King Arden’s court.”
Lured by a future far away from the bleak northern coast, Pierce makes his choice. Heloise, bereft and furious, tells her son the truth: about his father, a knight in King Arden’s court; about an older brother he never knew existed; about his father’s destructive love for King Arden’s queen, and Heloise’s decision to raise her younger son alone.
As Pierce journeys to Severluna, his path twists and turns through other lives and mysteries: an inn where ancient rites are celebrated, though no one will speak of them; a legendary local chef whose delicacies leave diners slowly withering from hunger; his mysterious wife, who steals Pierce’s heart; a young woman whose need to escape is even greater than Pierce’s; and finally, in Severluna, King Arden’s youngest son, who is urged by strange and lovely forces to sacrifice his father’s kingdom.
Things are changing in that kingdom. Oldmagic is on the rise. The immensely powerful artifact of an ancient god has come to light, and the king is gathering his knights to quest for this profound mystery, which may restore the kingdom to its former glory—or destroy it…
Readers of my blog know that Patricia A. McKillip is one of my favourite authors, in the fantasy genre and in general. So I was pretty excited when I found out that she was coming out with a new book this year (flailing, in fact) 🙂 I was fortunate to have been approved an eARC of the novel to read in exchange for an honest review. This book will be available on 02 February 2016.
Kingfisher is something of a coming of age story, a family drama, and a fantastical quest that’s King Arthur-esque. A lot of elements of this story were familiar to Patricia McKillip’s storytelling: the strange nature of magic and how it comes forth through everyday items and activities, the dream-like cross between reality and magic and dreams and illusions, the gorgeous writing and the cryptic natures of some of the characters that grace the story. What starts off as Pierce Oliver’s coming-of-age journey to find his father becomes a complicated plot in which he gets caught up in some massive shifts and changes in the kingdom.
Despite of these familiar elements present in Patricia McKillip’s latest novel, it was much harder to get into this novel. While dreamy at some parts, it overall didn’t feel as fantastical or as dreamy as her previous novels. Part of it might be because of the setting of this story; a bit of a personal preference thing but I do find it a bit weird whenever a fantasy novel has cars and other modern conventions and equipment in it. I never quite settled in to the world that she created for this story. The story itself also made it rather difficult to really get into the novel and travel alongside these characters; I appreciated the complexity in the different groups of characters and how they represented different trajectories and storylines that eventually coalesce and how the kingdom’s politics mingled in with the quest for the magical cauldron and the potential return of magic into the world. But I found that I didn’t really connect with the characters; I thought Heloise Oliver was the most interesting character and would’ve loved to have followed her story instead.
Overall, Kingfisher was an interesting enough story but it didn’t feel as self-contained as her previous novels or as wondrous. The ending left me with more questions and an overall sense of dissatisfaction that left me wondering if perhaps this might be the start of a new trilogy from the author. Nonetheless it’s nice to see Patricia A. McKillip come out with a new novel, I look forward to seeing what she writes next 🙂