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Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 29, 2009
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From School Library Journal
"McKinley's fans can only hope that she will return to this world in a future novel." --Kirkus
"The two writers' talents are well matched, creating a volume that's even in tone and quality while introducing novelty with every story opening." --Horn Book
Top Customer Reviews
There are five stories in this collection, three by Dickinson and two substantially longer ones by Mckinley:
--Phoenix, by Dickinson, tells the story of an elderly British gamekeeper who discovers a phoenix, and as a result, begins to age backwards. Despite being placed first in the book, and having the best beginning, Phoenix is the weak link of the collection, and has a disappointing and anticlimactic ending. Still, don't get discouraged if you read this tale and find it lacking; the other four stories are significantly better.
--McKinley's Hellhound is a nail-biting account of a young woman and her hellhound who find themselves forced into a confrontation in a haunted graveyard. McKinley's love of animals shines in this story, as the bulk of it takes place at a riding stable, and cats, horses, dogs, and birds are practically everywhere.
--Dickinson's Fireworm is a prehistoric fable about a group of cavedwellers who must fight off their ancient enemy the fireworm. The line between heroes and monsters is completely wiped away, and midway through it's clear that regardless of the outcome, this is going to end in tragedy.Read more ›
The first story is "Phoenix" by Peter Dickinson, in which an elderly man finds a phoenix and interesting things happen as a result. The story didn't particularly grip me but I realize this is more of a personal preference, so I will say it is at least well written. It also touches upon some thought-provoking themes of rebirth, hope, and religion.
In "Hellhound" by Robin McKinley, a teen girl who works on her family horse ranch buys a new dog that is more than he seems. This one was also well written and easy to read. The hellhound was lovable, the family dynamic engaging, and the suspense really nail-biting at times. All in all a strong story.
"Fireworm" by Peter Dickinson was a great premise. A young man in a prehistoric setting must fight off a fireworm that consistently steals the tribe's fire. The collection goes downhill from here. It's not the subject matter; I adore prehistoric fiction, such as Maroo of the Winter Caves and Boy of the Painted Cave. The mythos in this story evoked Native American mythology.Read more ›
In my opinion the strongest stories are the first and the last--each dominated by a fire-creature which is so much a part of mythical tradition it might seem nothing new could be said about either. Yet Dickenson's phoenix, and the people who serve it, are not like any other phoenix-legend I know. The story is perhaps most notable for having no real antagonist, except the natural consequences of time and death. This is very appropriate, since the legend of the phoenix has always been about time, death and renewal. If you're looking for blood and thunder, you won't find much of that here--but a quieter, more inquiring mind will find much to consider. And if the world seems a little too good and beautiful to be real--well, the phoenix has that effect on ordinary mortals, and time and death become more terrible when what they destroy is loved and loveable.
McKinley's dragon story is less original--dragonriding is a well-worn trope of fantasy--but it is no less charming, and in many ways much more gritty. Again, there is no real antagonist; the struggle is against circumstance and disability, and the natural human reluctance to admit weaknesses.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm always looking for new stories by Robin McKinley. Short stories are better than no stories at all.Published 24 days ago by rootwoman
I like McKinley's contributions better than Dickinson's, but they aren't really about elemental spirits.Published 9 months ago by Edwin E. Moise
A couple of them I liked very much - will be looking for more!Published 13 months ago by Carol Harrell
Final story by Robin McKinley was by far the best one in this collection. Her blend of fantasy subject matter ( with real originality of characters and setting) and modern... Read morePublished on August 4, 2013 by Janice Lee
McKinley always satisfies, up to par. I bought it just for her work, but I enjoyed reading the Dickinson, too.Published on February 7, 2013 by Southwesterners