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Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits Paperback – October 21, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
Once again, Robin has not let me down in her production of fantastic tales. From the hopeful, innocent, and adorably naive Sea-King's Son to the continuance of her famous Damarian stories, I was sucked into the worlds that Robin creates once again and came out the other side with a smile on my face.
Peter Dickenson's stories were a delightfully dark contrast to Robin's upbeat and cheerful writing style. I admit that, at first, I found his stories to be slightly dry and slow (though The Kraken was wonderful), and even left off reading Sea Serpent for boredom. However, just this past week, I decided to give the story another go, as it was the only one in the book I hadn't read and I was desperate for new material. It took me but a few pages to realize that he was, in fact, writing about one of my favorite subjects: Arthurian Legend. I'd read in one of the other customer reviews that they felt that the gender-issues presented in this story were never fully explained. They must have, however, not caught the obvious references to Merlin, Stonehenge, the English Channel, and the battle between Christianity and Paganism (the male Church vs. the priestesses of Avalon). After seeing the connection, I paid closer attention to the story and, while it didn't become my favorite, it certainly raised my opinion of Dickenson as a writer.
Overall, the stories were well worth reading and were a great source of entertainment and enjoyment. I can only hope that the pair will release a book for each of the other three elements. Congrats Robin and Peter, you did a great job.
"Mermaid Song" (PD) Setting = very like Puritan New England. (I'd have enjoyed it more if PD had simply made it an alternate Puritan history.) While the mundane setting may be off-putting at first, the sea-people's introduction is well handled when it comes. In a way, this is two stories - a family tradition (handed down from mother to daughter) and the story of the protagonist, young Pitiable Nasmith, left with her maternal grandparents upon her mother's death in childbirth.
Near the end of her life, Pitiable's grandmother tells her the story behind the most unusual of her songs - how their ancestress Charity Goodrich really survived shipwreck upon arriving in the new world as a girl. Although the People's culture isn't fleshed out much, the first contact scene between Charity and her sea-children rescuers is realistically detailed. In a neat reversal of some sea-people stories, the air-breathing person was a pet, kept in an undersea cave with no way out.
The present-day story turns grim when the grandfather takes to drink after his wife's death, which seems to have quenched what little of his heart survived his daughter's passing. Eventually he takes to walking along the seashore, and finds something that only Pitiable has learned to recognize, shaping up to a possible reversal of the secret tradition.Read more ›
If you expect Peter Dickinson's writing to be like McKinley's, you will be disappointed. His voice is very different - a sparer cello & oboe melody compared to her dancing flutes and trumpets. It's not better or worse, but it is different. His stories are more stark. The themes are darker. But they have their own beauty.
I also really enjoyed the one Damarian tale. As McKinley's writing has matured, her female heroines have become less fairy princesses, and more survivors who find it within themselves to meet challenges and endure. Her heroes also have a few more realistic warts. This story is about a survivor. A woman who keeps her soul intact against all odds, and ultimately finds it within herself (with her sister's encouragement) to follow her dreams and change her destiny. I also liked that it was set in the present day. Perhaps there's just to much realism in it for some - we all know creeps like Hetta's parents - but I think that makes it even more satisfying. Who needs dreams more than those whose reality is a prison?
In any case, if you read the book, read it one story at a time, and enjoy the changing voices.
I personally had never read any of Peter Dickinson's work, but if these stories are any example, I wont be. His stories are oppressive, and his characters are colorless, his descriptions unenthusiastic. I dutifully read each story in turn, but it was very difficult to keep from skipping his. I absolutely adore Robin McKinley on the other hand. Unfortunatly, her work also seemed to contain a very depressed vein. Her other books make you feel for the characters and the land. They are rich and vibrant, I never wanted "The Hero and The Crown" to end, while I felt like I was slogging through these stories. "Water" should not be used as a judgement of her talent. For the die hard McKinley fans, it ought to be read simply for her contributions which, while not her best, far exceed Dickinson's attempts. If you are looking for Mckinley's short works I highly recommend "The Door in The Hedge" or "A Knot in the Grain". Both of these easily surpass "Water".
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Arrived in time for Christmas and the book my daughter wanted. R
Evocative, poetic, lyrical, and with that odd McKinley groundedness.Published 19 months ago by jason h.
This was typical Robin McKinley. Loved it. The collection of short stories kept me riveted and reading to the end.Published 20 months ago by Kelly
A great book for fans of Robin McKinley. I've been a fan of hers since I was a teenager and honestly wish she would write more!Published on April 16, 2014 by Marty Byerley
I liked this collection of stories focusing on water as the common thread. The variety of stories was good, though they were not all five-star quality they were all interesting. Read morePublished on March 28, 2014 by Sheila Ary
This six-story anthology focuses mainly on waterways, water creatures (such as mer-folk), and the people who interact with them. But the last story was different. Read morePublished on January 9, 2014 by Rover
These stories all center around different water creatures. I really liked them. There's a mermaid, a sea serpent, a water horse and more.Published on November 6, 2013 by Amanda L. Davis