by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson
This is the first in a planned series called Elementals, all consisting of short stories by Dickinson and McKinley.* The second, Fire, has just come out.** So, naturally, I decided it was time for a re-read.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. While the opening story, “Mermaid Song” by Dickinson did bother me slightly (it all seemed very expected, somehow–repressive society, child rebelling against said society, etc., etc.), the second story “The Sea King’s Son” by McKinley was in the best fairy-tale-but-not-quite tradition (note some content in this one, although it’s not very explicit). “The Sea Serpent” confused me, to be honest–I never quite grasped the intricacies of landscape or society. “Water Horse” was nice, especially in its deviation from the normal fairy-tale-ish ending. “Kraken” was intriguing and had some lovely images. “A Pool in the Desert” was welcome as a return to Damar (for those of you who may not be aware of the fact, I read The Blue Sword ten times between 7th and 8th grade). I liked it, although I was jarred by the references to our authors, which seemed out of place somehow–they located me a little too firmly in reality.
There is a re-issued edition with a new cover and introduction, but I couldn’t find it anywhere online, so I’ll just have to wait and buy it eventually.
* they’re married
** and what’s with the overly-similar titles this year? There’s Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins; Fire, by Kristin Cashore; and Fire, by McKinley and Dickinson. I give McKinley and Dickinson a pass because they’ve had this book coming out for years.