I was immediately hooked. I discovered that my mum had a copy of "Rose Daughter" also, and I thought it was fascinating the way the same author could take the same fairy tale and turn it into two completely different books. (Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favourite fairy tales, which probably contributed to my love of McKinley.)
Then I went looking for more. I found and devoured The Blue Sword. (This is still the one I go back to again and again.) I read The Hero and the Crown. I read Spindle's End and wasn't sure if I liked the ending. I got The Outlaws of Sherwood from the library and converted my older brother to (at least some) McKinley novels. I checked out Deerskin and had it vetoed by my mother. (I was still only 15, and while I was resentful at the time I understand now.) I read the short story collections. A few years later, I read Sunshine. I'm glad I waited, because I don't think it's suitable for a young teenager, but it was a fascinating read (and a refreshing look at vampires after the travesty that is the "Twilight" series, which I'd just suffered through.) I loved this one almost more for the tantalizing references to baked goods than for the vampires...
I read Chalice shortly after it was published and fell in love. It's a quieter book than some of the others, more introspective; less of the action which drew me to The Blue Sword, but there is something about the book which draws me in and makes me sorry to be finished reading. If I had to choose a favourite, it might be this one. Or Pegasus, which was dreamy and slow-moving at first, building up subtly to a moment of crisis - and a cliffhanger. I pre-ordered this one and thought I would tear through it, but the writing is such that I read it much more slowly than I usually do, savouring the language and the world-building. I read it again in Italy in the spring, finding it the perfect travelling companion.
|And who wouldn't love that gorgeous cover art?|
Last summer, I finally read Deerskin. I took it with me for a two-day house-sitting job and couldn't put it down. I didn't enjoy it. At times, I wanted to close the book and forget everything I'd read. It was horrifying, draining. It devastated me. And yet, I am glad I read it. I may never re-read it. But it needed to be read once.
All this is by way of leading up to the main point, which is, I've loved Robin McKinley for about a decade now, and I think I've bought more of her books than I have of any other single novelist. I've been following her blog for several years also and now, there is a chance to do something for her.
Anyone who reads her blog knows that she is a woman of many interests: not only writing, but gardening, animals (especially her own hellhounds), and music. And not just singing and piano playing, but bell-ringing. I don't pretend to know anything much about change-ringing (though I know more now than I did three years ago), but I do know that the bells and towers need upkeep just like any other instrument -- only it's more expensive. Robin's local bells are in need of expensive repairs, and as part of the fund-raising for this, she's holding a sale and auction.
I've left my blog post rather late: I think the sale ends tomorrow. But if you have any interest in fine fantasy writing, change-ringing bell towers, or humorous sketches signed by a famous author, hop on over to the auction page. If, like me, your funds are limited and you can't manage to bid on one of the out-of-print copies, Robin has options for signed and "doodles" copies of her in-print books for a reasonable price, or you can just purchase a signed "doodle" for a flat rate (these are $10 or $15, and a special "bats in the belfry" one for $20.) You can request a subject for the doodle, so they're totally personalized. And it's all for a good cause!
|Bats in the belfry. Teehee!|
|Doodle examples. Entirely Robin McKinley's work, not mine!|
The link is here: http://robinmckinleysblog.com/bells/ I'm sure Robin and the bells would appreciate even the purchase of a $10 doodle! Or, if you're not familiar with her books, perhaps a signed copy would be a good way to introduce yourself :-)