The great Patricia McKillip, plus more Merchandise (was Re: DWJ's answers: Harry Potter)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Fri Aug 31 17:20:48 EDT 2001

On Fri, 31 Aug 2001 16:41:25 -0400, Rebecca Ganetzky wrote:

>I have College of Magics, and started reading the first time I ever
>stayed away from home completely on my own, in the dark, much later at
>night than I usually go to sleep.  I don't remember what happened but I
>got really scared, and haven't managed to go back to the book yet.
>i think I missed it, Melissa, by whom is the <underline>Winter
>Rose</underline> book of which you spoke?  

_Winter Rose_ is a book by Patricia McKillip.  It's the second one published
after her novels went to a smaller-size hardcover edition with INCREDIBLE
covers.  Apparently she had gained a greater measure of control over the
appearance of her books at that point.  I only wish the price reflected the
size (yeah, I know that's not realistic, it's just hard to shell out $25 or
more for something not much bigger than a paperback novel).  Anyway, they're
exquisite.  The first one was _The Book of Atrix Wolfe_; second is _Winter
Rose_; third is _Song for the Basilisk_; and the most recent is _The Tower
at Stony Wood_.  This is just publication order and doesn't matter at all in
terms of reading.  I think I liked _Basilisk_ best, which is weird
considering it's the only one of the four I don't own.

My feeling about McKillip is one of idol-worship mixed with frustration.
She is the most incredible stylist I know of; I read her books in sheer awe
at how she puts words together.  But her later books just aren't grabbing me
the way they used to.  I don't know whether she's changed, or I have, but
it's probably a little of both.  I think she finally got to the point (like
Robin McKinley, come to think of it) that she's writing exactly what she
wants to write, and it's not nearly as conventional as her early books.  I
mean, _Riddle-master_ is, for all its beauty and strangeness, still a mostly
straightforward quest story.  Or perhaps I mean that you can read it only as
such, or you can read it as something more, and you're happy either way
(unless you're the sort of heathen who doesn't like it, but this was my
formative series, I adore it irrationally, and I just don't discuss it
because things get Heated and Ugly).  The later books are very different and
not at all conventional.  This is good or bad directly depending on what you
want out of a novel, and specifically out of a Patricia McKillip novel.
Going from _The Riddle-master of Hed_ or _Forgotten Beasts of Eld_ straight
to _The Book of Atrix Wolfe_ might be a little weird.

Her earlier books get overlooked sometimes, mostly because they're out of
print, but there are a few that I think are worth finding.  _The House on
Parchment Street_ is a wonderful YA ghost story set in England.  _Fool's
Run_, perhaps her only pure-SF story, is especially good if you're into
music.  I haven't read _The Throme of the Erril of Sherrill_ for a long
time, but I think it's an interesting hint of what she would end up doing
much later.

Anyway, I really love her books.

>By the way, I know this belongs in the Merchandise thread, but I was
>laughing so hard, I got a weird look from my roomate when I read
>Melissa's merchandising editions.  

I'm glad I'm amusing.  :)

>But you forgot making a second
>edition sophie doll that turns into a black panther and a cat...  Oh!  
>And a Christopher Chant doll that you can collapse its head (Like the
>stomach on the pregnant barbie)

Oh, I'm sure we could come up with a lot more if we tried.  The playsets
alone would be great.  Chrestomanci's house?  Hunsdon House with pictures
you can remove?  Derkholm (griffins not included)?  You could do that one in
sections that could move around--change it from an ordinary home into a dark
castle complete with moat.  It could have a breakaway roof and staircase.
And a display case for all of Callette's gizmos.  (Those might be hard to
reproduce in small, unless you gave up on the fun effects, but that's what
makes them interesting....)

I'd never be able to let the kids play with them, though.  I get irritated
just picking up all the little gold coins from their Playmobil Dragon
Temple.  Don't they CARE about keeping their stuff neat?  Don't they realize
how cool this stuff is?  I was happy to have a clunky Fisher-Price castle
when I was a kid, and they've got a dragon in real chains and a hero to slay
him.  Among other things.  I should just have bought it for myself and let
them play with it when they were Really Really Good.  *Then* they'd
appreciate it and all the little gold coins would still be in the chest
where they belong.

I'm starting to think I'm only a few paperclips short of turning into Bert
from Sesame Street....

Melissa Proffitt
(who doesn't like oatmeal)
To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list