Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Book Review: Chalice
Chalice (2008) by Robin McKinley
Back Cover: Mirasol is only a beekeeper, but as a member of one of the old families, she can hear the silent murmur of the earthlines. The concerns of Master, Chalice, and Circle, who through the earthlines govern Willowlands, are not hers--until the current Master and Chalice suddenly die, leaving no heirs. The new Master is a priest of Fire, and may no longer be human enough to rule where his father and brother were Master before him. And then the Circle comes to Mirasol and tells her that she is the new Chalice, and that she must bind the land and its people with a Master whose touch can burn human flesh to the bone.
Review: I haven't felt this way about a fantasy story in a long time; Chalice is intricate, finely wrought, and draws the reader into Mirasol's world with an easiness not all stories have. One of the things I liked best was that McKinley doesn't take time away from the story to clue readers in on Mirasol's world--rather, you pick it up in bits and pieces as you go, which ultimately makes it feel more real.
McKinley writes with such expression and expertise that as Mirasol awaits the arrival of the new and strange Master with bated breath, so do readers. I liked Mirasol immensely, and the silent Fire Master with burning eyes and skin like coal was very compelling.
Conclusion: 5/5. I had a great time with this book. McKinley is a beautiful storyteller and draws her characters with masterful, nuanced strokes of the pen. Highly recommended for the balanced plot and understated but powerful romance.