Friday, April 17, 2009

Chalice by Robin McKinley

I met Robin McKinley thirty years ago, soon after her first book, Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, came out. I was so impressed by that book, but, for some reason, I've never read another. Then a co-worker told me I would like McKinley's latest book, Chalice. She was right.

Chalice is labeled Young Adult, but it's an intense, thoughtful book that will appeal to many adults. Mirasol was a beekeeper, content with her life in Willowlands, but when the land's Master and Chalice died tragically in a fire, Mirasol was called to a higher role. Suddenly, the ruling Circle had to unify the land with a new Master and Chalice. Six months before the Master could return, Mirasol was picked as the Chalice, a difficult position needed to unite the Master with his Circle, and the land itself. Then, the late Master's brother was called home from his study of the priesthood of Fire. It would be tough enough for the new Master to return home, but the land, the demesne, had suffered so much under the previous Master that Chalice and the Master faced an almost insurmountable task.

In Beauty, McKinley beautifully retold the story of Beauty and the Beast. In Chalice, she creates her own heroine, a young woman who cares deeply for the land, and is willing to fight the Overlord who wants to control Willowlands, even though she knows she has limited ability. Chalice is dependant on her bees, honey, and her love of the land for her power. Will she be able to unite her own power, her Master's strange affinity for fire, and the land's needs? Chalice is a story of love, land, sacrifice, and honey. Don't think of this as a young adult novel. Think of Chalice as a powerful green novel.

Robin McKinley's website is www.RobinMcKinley.com


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Chalice by Robin McKinley. G.P. Putnam's Sons, ©2008. ISBN 9780399246760 (hardcover), 272p.

18 comments:

Andrew Clarke said...

If you enjoy the sort of fantasy/allegory that shows proper respect for life and creatures, then may I suggest one to try? "Outcasts Of Skagaray" can be previewed by reading the sample chapters and reviews on www.threeswans.com.au Best wishes.

Molly said...

I just picked up Beauty this week to possibly read for the read-a-thon. I am very much looking forward to experiencing McKinley's writing style.

Glad you are feeling somewhat better and have been able to return to work.

Corey Wilde said...

I'm generally not a fan of fantasy but I remember reading McKinley's THE BLUE SWORD a long, long time ago, and I thought the writing and the storytelling were extraordinary.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Charles. I'll have to check it out.

Lesa said...

Ah, Molly. You young'uns who can read for the readathon. I need my sleep.

I hope you enjoy Beauty if you decide to read it! I thought it was "beautiful".

Lesa said...

The storytelling is extraordinary in Chalice. For some reason, the subject of her other books just didn't grab me, but the summary by a friend told me I'd like this one.

wisteria said...

Calice sounds like a book I'd like to read and your review is an enticement. Thanks Lesa!

Wisteria
www.bookwormsdinner.blogspot.com

TexasRed said...

I love Robin McKinley's books. Going to need to check this one out! Thanks!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Wisteria! Anything to build that TBR pile!

Lesa said...

TexasRed, If you're a Robin McKinley fan, you do need to look for Chalice. Enjoy!

CindyinTempe said...

How ironic! CHALICE is on hold for me at Tempe Public Library, can't wait to pick it up and start it.
You'd probably like her DRAGONHAVEN, too, and she has an interesting blog.
ps - I met Robin, too, long ago, at an Ohio school librarians convention in Cleveland just after THE BLUE SWORD was published-she autographed my copy.

CindyinTempe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lesa said...

Funny, Cindy. I met Robin when she spoke to a group of Cleveland area school librarians in 1979, soon after Beauty came out. I was the high school librarian at Garfield Heights at the time. Where did you work in Ohio?

CindyinTempe said...

Hi, Lesa. I was a high school librarian for Mansfield City Schools my entire career. In '79 I was at Malabar High School.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Cindy! Just curious.

Jena said...

I considered it more of a modern Romantic fantasy. (If I'd thought of it as a green novel, I wouldn't have touched it with a 10' pole--"green" is oversold. That said, have you read Alice Hoffman's Green Angel?)

Have you read McKinley's Deerskin? It's my favorite--I recommend it to everyone.

Lesa said...

No, Jena. I haven't read Deerskin. I'll have to check it out. As I said, I haven't read anything since Beauty, and I don't know why because I liked that so much.

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