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FIRE by Robin McKinley

FIRE

Tales of Elemental Spirits

By Robin McKinley (Author) , Peter Dickinson (Author)

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-399-25289-1
Publisher: Putnam

Five tales of fiery beasts shimmer in an uneven fantasy collection by the noted husband-and-wife team. The three Dickinson stories—especially “Phoenix,” in which a girl who loves forests discovers an ancient gamekeeper’s secret, and “Salamander Man,” in which a slave is chosen from birth to fulfill a magical duty—seem less self-sustained narratives than world-building sketches or conceptual explorations. Only “Fireworm,” a dreamlike, elegiac legend about an Ice Age tribe threatened by an igneous monster, contains any character development or plot arc. In contrast, the two McKinley tales charm with intriguing, likable characters and hopeful themes. In “Hellhound,” a young woman who dreams of unicorns adopts a fiery-eyed dog, with mysterious, terrifying and oddly touching results. The irresistible novella “First Flight,” by far the standout contribution, introduces a shy, clumsy youth with a knack for healing who finds himself saddled with the impossible challenge of helping a crippled dragon to fly. McKinley’s fans can only hope that she will return to this world in a future novel. (Fantasy. YA)