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kingfisher

In the new fantasy from the award-winning author of the Riddle-Master Trilogy, a young man comes of age amid family secrets and revelations, and transformative magic.   Hidden away from the world by his mother, the powerful sorceress Heloise Oliver, Pierce has grown up working in her restaurant in Desolation Point. One day, unexpectedly, strangers pass through town on theIn the new fantasy from the award-winning author of the Riddle-Master Trilogy, a young man comes of age amid family secrets and revelations, and transformative magic.   Hidden away from the world by his mother, the powerful sorceress Heloise Oliver, Pierce has grown up working in her restaurant in Desolation Point. One day, unexpectedly, strangers pass through town on the way to the legendary capital city. “Look for us,” they tell Pierce, “if you come to Severluna. You might find a place for yourself in King Arden’s court.”   Lured by a future far away from the bleak northern coast, Pierce makes his choice. Heloise, bereft and furious, tells her son the truth: about his father, a knight in King Arden’s court; about an older brother he never knew existed; about his father’s destructive love for King Arden’s queen, and Heloise’s decision to raise her younger son alone.   As Pierce journeys to Severluna, his path twists and turns through other lives and mysteries: an inn where ancient rites are celebrated, though no one will speak of them; a legendary local chef whose delicacies leave diners slowly withering from hunger; his mysterious wife, who steals Pierce’s heart; a young woman whose need to escape is even greater than Pierce’s; and finally, in Severluna, King Arden's youngest son, who is urged by strange and lovely forces to sacrifice his father’s kingdom.   Things are changing in that kingdom. Oldmagic is on the rise. The immensely powerful artifact of an ancient god has come to light, and the king is gathering his knights to quest for this profound mystery, which may restore the kingdom to its former glory—or destroy it...From the Hardcover edition....

Title : kingfisher
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ISBN : 25507747
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 346 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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kingfisher Reviews

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    2019-04-22 03:26

    Full review, first posted on www.FantasyLiterature.com:Patricia McKillip’s latest fantasy novel, Kingfisher, blends together the disparate elements of an Arthurian-type court, with King Arden, his knights, and their search for the Holy Grail ― in this case, an ancient cauldron with magical powers ― and a contemporary setting, complete with cell phones, vehicles, highways and all of the modern conveniences. Kingfisher also weaves together three different plotlines of three young people who are all somewhat adrift and searching for answers: Pierce Oliver is the son of a sorceress who left her estranged husband, a knight, without ever telling him she was pregnant and had a son. They’ve been hidden in Cape Mistbegotten on Desolation Point ever since, until Pierce meets four knights of the king, who are passing through his town, and abruptly decides to leave his home and mother for the big city and the king’s court to try to find himself and, perhaps, his father. The second main character is Carrie, a gifted cook and the daughter of a mage. Carrie who works at the mysterious Kingfisher Inn, where everyone (including her father) seems to be mysteriously troubled, and the weekly All You Can Eat Friday Nite Fish Fry has somehow become a vaguely ominous ritual. Carrie takes a second job with a competing restaurant run by the gorgeous Todd Stillwater and his wife … but there’s something very odd about this couple and the food they serve in that restaurant. Finally, we have Daimon, the king’s bastard son, who falls in love with Vivien Ravensley, an otherworldly girl. Daimon discovers through her that he has a dual heritage, and is both entranced and torn by it.Placing a Camelot-type court in the modern era, and mixing in liberal doses of both magic and technology, is an intriguing concept. It’s hard to resist a chuckle at knights of the court roaring off on their motorcycles to try to locate the lost vessel/Grail, or one knight texting others an image of a fake cauldron in order to draw them off course in their search. But these two vastly disparate worlds don’t always mesh smoothly.More problematic is that the plotline is too fragmented, following several different characters and storylines, and including too many elements: a shape-changing father, the queen and court ladies’ rather paganist holy cave, a Circe-like sorceress who kidnaps Sir Leith in a bout of unrequited love, the elusive cauldron, the haunted Kingfisher Inn and its inhabitants’ bitter feud with Stillwater’s restaurant, and so on. McKillip’s poetic writing can be gorgeous, and it’s filled with delightful imagery, like Pierce’s worried mother using various animals’ eyes to keep a watch out for her wandering son, as Skye mentions. But McKillip’s rather ambiguous writing style adds to the obscurity and sense of confusion, making it difficult for me to feel fully engaged by the story.Kingfisher does contain a lot of subtle nuances and allusions to Arthurian and other legends that are fun to try to tease out. The Kingfisher Inn and the book’s title call to mind the legend of the wounded Fisher King, who depends on another person for his healing. Daimon’s girlfriend, Vivien Ravensley, is part of an ancient realm called Ravenhold, whose remaining people want to regain power over the land that was taken from them. The repeated raven references and imagery seem to be an allusion to the Raven King legend, in which King Arthur was transformed into a raven and roams the earth in that form until his return. Pierce Oliver seems to be an analogue of Sir Percival, who was taken by his mother into the forest and raised in ignorance of the ways of men, until he meets a group of knights as a teenager and decides to try to become one himself. This book is a goldmine for Arthur lore enthusiasts.In the end, the confusing storyline, with its overabundance of competing elements, made Kingfisher feel muddled and thus less than a complete success for me, particularly where several story threads are left unresolved in the end. But it had a lovely mythic feel to it, and at least it errs on the side of being ambitious.I received this ebook from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a review. Thank you!

  • Althea Ann
    2019-05-03 03:50

    A weird and thoroughly original-feeling mix of Arthurian legend, pagan myth, and contemporary rural Britain - with lots of cooking - meshes to form McKillip's latest novel, 'Kingfisher.'Pierce Oliver (Percival) has been raised in the remote fishing village of Mistbegotten by his mother, Heloise, a retired sorceress. He knows nothing of his father, but when one day he encounters a group of knights from the big city of Severluna, he's impressed by their shiny black limousine and their flashy leather jackets - as well as the supernatural shadows that seem to follow them. When they mention that there might be a place for him among them, his decision to travel to Severluna and seek his lost father is triggered.Meanwhile, halfway between Mistbegotten and Severluna, the Kingfisher Inn hosts an amazing all-you-can-eat Friday Night Fish Fry - a banquet served in a strangely ritualistic manner. There are mysteries here too; things no one will tell the young cook Carrie - especially not her eccentric father, Merle. To try to find out these secrets, Carrie secretly agrees to work for the seductive yet hated cook Todd Stillwater, who runs a fancy restaurant specializing in experimental haute cuisine.In Severluna, the king has initiated a grail quest - seeking a lost vessel of power which is rumored to belong to the god Severen. However, the priestesses of Calluna espouse a competing belief; that lost histories tell that this vessel was one of the goddess' mercy.Pierce Oliver finds himself caught up in the quest, and he finds that the roads he takes 'away' often double back and lead him back toward the Kingfisher Inn and toward 'home.'There are a lot of references in here - and probably some that I missed as well. Obviously the Knights of the Round Table, the Fisher King, the Cauldron of Annwn... what might seem at first to be a simple tale becomes deceptively complex. It feels like a dream where the dreamer has the unnerving sense that nothing is exactly as it seems. And here where some of my uncertainty about this book comes in: McKillip often creates fantasy worlds where, although unpleasant events may be occurring, the world itself is incontrovertibly someplace you would like to be. That's not true of this world. I didn't 'like' it and I would not like to live there. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not. Overall, while the mix of magical elements with modern-day elements like cars and sneakers and cell phones and what-have-you felt original, I'm not sure it was wholly successful.I still felt this was a very good book, with a lot of food for thought (in addition to a lot of food and food metaphors). But while Patricia McKillip is one of my favorite authors, this isn't one of my favorite books by her.Many thanks to Ace Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinion is solely my own.

  • Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads
    2019-05-21 04:30

    LOOKIT what I got!*whispers* Please don't be terrible . . .

  • Algernon
    2019-04-25 00:30

    You'd shudder, your blood would roar, your hair would stiffen tendril by tendril like quills upon the fretful porpentine if you could see, if you could see ... This one's a bit of a mess, but what a glorious, epic mess. It's a mashup of genres (gothic horror, heroic fantasy, romance, cooking guide) saved by a sly sense of humour that announces itself from the very first pages where we meet Pierce Oliver – a young man out on Cape Misbegotten to catch some crabs for his mother's kitchen. A trio of royal knights in black leather descend from a stretch limo to ask for directions (oh, the setting is also a mashup of high fantasy and the modern world with succubi and mobile phones) and to remind Pierce there is a wider world out there beyond Desolation Point and the restaurant of his mother (an extremely powerful sorceress). So Pierce sets out in a rundown Trabant (or something like it) towards the capital of the realm, Severluna, to find his absent father. Along the way, Pierce stops in Chimera Bay, there to have lunch at the Kingfisher Inn – the proverbial haunted house, once famous throughout the realm, now a sorry ruin. He also acquires/steals a magic sword (oops! my bad! a kitchen knife with a very sharp blade). And from here on things start to get really complicated ... My dad says it's all connected – Hal Fisher getting hurt, the hotel failing, Lilith Fisher going to live in the tower suite, the quarrel between them, even the Friday Nite Fry – it's all part of the same story. This remark comes courtesy of Carrie, a young woman who cooks at the Kingfisher Inn and tries in vain to find out what went wrong in the Fisher family – the owners. If Pierce has a bit of a problem with an overprotective mother, Carrie struggles to keep her wandering father Merle inside the house and talking sense, with little success. (the opening quote of my review is from Merle, watching the birds fly over the tidal pools of Chimera Bay)No sooner did I arrive at the Kingfisher Inn and been presented with its terrible, mysterious history and I had to go on the road again and meet a bevy of new characters in Severluna, and a different quest. King Arden of Wyvernhold is about to send all his black leather (biker gang?) knights out in the realm to find a most powerful and ancient artifact reputed to be able to heal any wound and even raise the dead. Comparison to Arthurian legends and the Holy Grail are easy to make, but they are only a starting point.You must see it with your heart. The vessel will find you. It will recognize itself in you. The vessel belongs to anyone who desires it, but no one can possess it. Its powers are as ancient as the world; it holds all the mysteries of the world. It seems not only King Arden and his flashy knights are looking for the lost vessel. A very powerful faction in the realm is hoping to get there first. It all boils down to yin and yang, fire and water, power and healing, men and women. In the realm of King Arden there are two religions: the god Severen, favored by the knights, and the goddess Calluna, embraced by the wives and daughters. Which of the two is more powerful? Some say nobody can stand in the way of the impetuous Severen. Others that the quiet, dark waters of Calluna run deeper and reach into the oldest places. Out of one of these oldest places, Ravenhold, comes a familiar trio that used to scare even the mightiest gods of Olympos: a fair maiden, a mother, a crone. And they mean business ... but what in the name of all past, present and future gods has all this to do with the Kingfisher Inn?As you can see, it's a bit of a mess/stretch and that's why I took my time to put the game pieces on the board and write this lengthy recap, although I should have mentioned the other players like Arden's son Daimon, Pierce's father and brother, Daimon's sister, the northern knight Dame Scotia and the Adversary... oh, it's really complicated and it's probably best to discover the story by yourself.Being a longtime and loyal fan of McKillip, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and waited patiently for an explanation. An explanation that came eventually in a casual conversation about questing: "Wandering around in the realm in search of its oldest power is liable to cause all kinds of disturbances and consequences. There were always unexpected dangers on those early quests... Very colorful, sometimes deadly, often mysterious, random, occasionally verging on the ridiculous. No quest was ever safe. They exist to reveal.""Reveal what, exactly?""The landscape of the heart." sounds familiar, no? "Le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point."So enjoy this charming, and occasionally gruesome, ride through Wyvernhold, all things will be sort of explained by the end, some families reunited, some new hearts bonded together, some wrongs righted, some lost things found...The Graal, you ask? Oh, that's another story! The more humans know of the lost Ravenhold, the more they will want it back. It is beautiful, dangerous, magical, frightening, ancient, and forever. I know that. You took me there. Thank you Patricia McKillip for yet another original standalone story that tips me over more firmly towards the whimsical field of fantasy as opposed to the grimdark fare.As another character I failed to mention (a sort of bookworm Merlin, I forget his name) says: Follow your heart and you will always know where you are!

  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    2019-05-01 06:26

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2016/02/28/b...Kingfisher is not your everyday fantasy, nor is it the kind of book I usually enjoy. Blurring the lines between genres, this ethereal and strangely abstract tale should have stymied me on so many levels, so no one is more shocked than I am at how deeply it resonated with me. It shouldn’t have worked for me—and in truth, not every aspect of the story did—but I did find certain elements greatly appealing.It helped too that I went into this book with no preconceptions and absolutely no clue what to expect at all. So I was surprised to discover early on that Kingfisher appears to be a retelling of—or at least, a story with many allusions to—the quest for the Holy Grail. It occurred to me then, that in spite of the popularity of stories about King Arthur and the knights of his court, I’ve not actually read much Arthurian fantasy. That being said, it doesn’t taken an expert to see that McKillip’s take on the genre is special, wildly inventive, and atypical of many others.The beginning of the book can only be described as abrupt, introducing us to Pierce Oliver in a brief scene helping out a group of strangers with directions as they pass through his remote home town of Mistbegotten. He is immediately inspired by the men’s sophisticated bearing and mystical aura, much like how Percival in the legend was struck by the heroism of the knights after he encountered a band of them in the forest where he lived. Pierce/Percival then leaves home for a bit of soul-searching, after his mother reveals that his father is a knight in the King’s Court.As Pierce travels to the kingdom of Severluna where King Arden holds his court, the tides are changing there as well. With magic on the rise, the king has called for all his knights to gather. An artifact of immense power has been brought to his attention, believed to hold the key to restoring Severluna’s glory. When Pierce arrives, he finds everyone in the kingdom preparing for the quest to find this legendary vessel, including the priestesses of Calluna who go against the king in believing that the lost artifact is destined for something else.There’s almost a “magical realism” vibe to this story, though I use that description broadly; in parts, the world of Kingfisher veers so strongly into the realm of fantasy that the world can be seen as anything but natural or mundane. It should also come as no surprise that my favorite parts of this novel all had to do with the aforementioned allusions to the legends surrounding King Arthur and the Grail Quest. Retellings or so-called creative re-imaginings are always fascinating to me because of the potential for an author to take the story in a number of different directions, and here we have a somewhat offbeat mix of Medieval Fantasy meets Modern World. The source of inspiration behind Pierce Oliver’s personal journey is obvious, though there were many more references beyond that.In fact, after a while it became difficult to separate myth from reality. I had a really hard time getting a bead on the nature of the setting, which sees characters using modern technology like cellphones on the one hand, but they also don’t seem to think knights, sorceresses, or magic are anything out of the ordinary on the other. By design or otherwise, the world-building is vague and has this almost dreamlike quality, and at many points I found myself wondering if we were still playing to the Arthurian tropes or leaving them completely behind for uncharted territory. There were also moments where I felt like I was in way over my head, especially where certain characters were concerned, like Carrie’s storyline and her role in the bitter feud between Todd Stillwater and the Kingfisher Inn.And then there was the food. The mouth-wateringly, gorgeously, meticulously described food. Delicious as it all sounded, it felt incongruous and distracting, considering how everything else in the book—characters, world-building, etc.—lacked a similar level of detail.These obstacles notwithstanding, I nevertheless found a lot to like about Kingfisher, and felt myself drawn to many parts of the story. This is the first book I’ve ever read by Patricia A. McKillip, and I am glad I’ve finally gotten to experience her beautiful and expressive style for myself. Admittedly there were moments where I struggled to connect with the characters in this surreal fantasy world that she has created, but still I just can’t help but love the astonishingly unique way she has transformed the classic King Arthur mythos.

  • Nikki
    2019-05-01 07:21

    Received to review via NetgalleyThe formatting of this was less than ideal on my Kindle, since I think it’s a proofing copy and thus there were numbers all through the document, and bizarre sections with no paragraph breaks, and all sorts of fun things like that. I did read some of it on my computer, which was better in one way, but not the most comfortable way to read either. In a way, I wish I hadn’t read this now, despite my eagerness for it — there’s a thread of McKillip’s usual enchantment and strangeness here, but I’m pretty sure that some of the odd moments were just caused by the formatting. Not really experienced as the author intended, I think.I don’t know to what extent I’m typical of the audience for this book. To me, the Arthurian influence was immediately apparent — the Fisher King, some of the names (Vivienne?), the relationship between Sir Leith and Queen Ginevra, the king Arden. The strange ceremony, the issue of someone outside the ritual needing to ask, the grail-like object. Pierce’s story is almost like that of Percival, and yet not always, not quite. At least, not a version I know. It felt all askew, because I know the Arthurian versions so well, and particularly because I really don’t like the Percival story, in general. I don’t like it when he’s Welsh and ignorant, and yet at the same time I don’t like his Welsh background being ignored either. The grail story just loses me entirely, in general, even when it’s closer to the Welsh sources than to Chrétien’s.On the other hand, I love McKillip’s work a lot. She does magic and enchantment so well, and writes so beautifully. That is certainly in evidence here as much as ever. She makes something interesting and different of the old stories, of the grail-seeking. I felt like the Severluna/Calluna stuff never quite worked itself out fully — it seemed a fairly typical god/goddess dichotomy/conflict, complete with god-obsessed young men making nuisances of themselves to older/feminine magics. I wanted more, something different. Stranger? Stranger is a good word for what McKillip usually manages.The Stillwater character and what he did was interesting — very classically mythological, and yet fresh too. It took me some time to fit that into the plot, because it’s not an intrinsic part of the Arthurian story — perhaps one reason why someone less familiar with the legends might enjoy this more. I always find myself playing puzzle pieces with Arthurian stories, or even ones that’re just inspired by Arthuriana.I don’t know how to assess it, at the end of all this. For holding me rapt despite misgivings, I think I’m going to go ahead and give it four stars, “really liked it”. In an ambivalent, intrigued sort of way.Originally posted here.

  • Telyn
    2019-05-16 04:44

    An ultimately unsatisfying mixture of Arthurian mythos, 21st century Oregon, and—bizarrely— haute cuisine. There are threads in this novel that pull at the heart and whisper of hidden truths, and there's some compelling imagery, and many echoes of McKillip's exquisite poetry, but it's mostly a brightly colored tangle that fails to resolve into a cohesive pattern.Part of the problem is the enormous cast of characters. Some drop entirely out of the story, others reappear after disappearances so lengthy this reader was forced to backtrack in the vain hope figuring out who they are, and still others appear to have strayed in from the author's other books and aren't sure where they fit into the plot. I also found myself struggling with the setting. The European mythology felt uncomfortably out of place in a landscape that suggested 21st century Pacific Northwest. While I was intrigued by the idea of knights in fancy cars on magical quests on the Oregon coast, I found I never fully suspend disbelief to the point where I became invested in the story—the magic and technology just did not seem to belong to the same world in a way that was believable.There are numerous restaurants in this story. They serve as metaphors for life, with food as a kind of transformative alchemic process. This works up until the point where deliverance arrives in the form of artisan canapés. Something slightly less pretentious and more edible than a bite of "cherries, licorice, raw beef, onion, and chocolate," or shredded crab sucked "like a mouthful of milkshake" through a straw of fried butter, might have been less jarring. And while cooking can certainly be considered magic art, it seemed odd to have all of these powerfully magical people involved in the food service industry. An unfortunate side effect of the modern day setting and the restaurant theme resulted in a mental picture of food processors and microwave ovens when an evil wizard is described as using infernal "machines" to create his accursed food. When an angry mob arrives and carries off the devices thinking they are dangerous weapons, my imagination boggled (Noooooo! not the blender! Take the toaster, take the George Foreman grill, but don't touch the Vegamatic! is probably not what the author had in mind).I love McKillip and eagerly awaited this book, her first in several years, but I found it disappointing. Many of the themes here have been handled with much more grace and vision in her other books. This book leaves one with the distinct impression that the author took all the leftovers in the fridge, threw then together in a large pot and reheated them in the microwave—it doesn't matter if it was the magical cauldron of plenty or the infernal microwave of evil, it doesn't matter that the cook is a skilled sorceress with a great gift for creating images from words or the ingredients are costly, rare and mythical, at the end of the day, the result is still hash.

  • **✿❀ Maki ❀✿**
    2019-05-19 08:35

    This wasn't my favorite Patricia McKillip book ever, but it was still pretty amazing.The blend of modern technology and ancient magic was an interesting idea to see McKillip play around with, but it left me feeling like more should have been settled by the end of the book. Which is a weird complaint, I know - that just because a fantasy world has cell phones and cars, there shouldn't be as many threads left loose.On the whole, though, that's a very minor complaint. I love the way McKillip can turn a phrase, and the scenery descriptions in this book are just beautiful.And the food...I regret reading this while I was hungry.***A new Patricia McKillip book...and it's due to come out on my birthday. <3

  • Beth
    2019-04-21 03:34

    T. S. Eliot (partly taken out of context) once said that "Genuine poetry can communicate without being understood." There's a quality to McKillip's prose that always calls that quote to mind: it's lyrical and precise and beautiful, though not necessarily direct, and that's true in this work as well."Three," Perdita whispered. The word came alive in her head, busily making connection after connection through time, across poetry, familiar images turning unfamiliar faces toward her, linking themselves across the whole of Wyvernhold history and farther back, so far back that they became themselves, words so old they were new, and they meant only what they were: Moon. Raven. Death. Night. Life.This work is different because it isn't high fantasy - no separate world; these knights have cell phones and cars - but it is quietly epic in its own way. It has a quest, though that isn't the primary focus, and it has its own myths and legends. The latter are the book's focus: the extent to which myth is rooted in truth and still alive in today's world - the extent to which scholars can divine the truth by cobbling together information (not very much) - and the extent of enchantment. What McKillip does best, with her dreamy, hazy prose, is show you the extent of enchantment. There's a sense of being swept up in her writing. There are moments when her writing doesn't necessarily have a coherent clarity, but it always has a communicative clarity. It's as if you're being shown emotions to explain characters, instead of understanding them through their actions.In that way, this is a fairly simple story. There are a few separate points of view, but ultimately they all share the same story, and that story is a simple one: not about the quest, but about the characters who take it, and how they interrelate. And it's that evocative prose that elevates this simple story, that glosses over plot holes as it fills in character motivations without elaborating on them directly. And that makes the journey worth taking.

  • Mary Catelli
    2019-05-12 02:51

    It opens with a young man, a sorceress's son, who meets some knights and sets out to find his father. And an inn that is falling to pieces but still has a diner going when he arrives. And a royal court where the king decides to send his knights on a quest for a vaguely defined vessel -- magical but ill-recorded-- which, it turns out, also draws in the past of his illegitimate son.Taking place in a world with motels and sorceresses and cell phones and a polytheistic religion that do not entirely mesh into a coherent setting. But there are some lovely pieces as these threads wind together into a plot that involves an enchantress who can't figure out why a man's chief worry is his sons, rats that cause problems when allowed in, stealing a kitchen knife, how the youngest princess wonders that her half-brother is hiding things from her, a historical gold rush, a restaurant that's magically closed, and much more.A lot of recognizable Arthurian tropes. Some not from medieval literature but Victorian speculation.

  • Kristen
    2019-05-06 04:47

    Though enjoyable, this is my least favorite book I've read by Patricia A. McKillip. As is usual with her books, there is some beautiful writing, but it follows a LOT of characters and some of their stories and more interesting than others.3 1/2 starsFull (But Still Brief) Review: http://www.fantasybookcafe.com/2016/0...

  • Katy
    2019-05-14 01:32

    I love the imagery that McKillip develops in her books. This is a fun story with just a bit too much going on, but well worth the read.

  • Rachel (Kalanadi)
    2019-04-27 03:30

    Kingfisher contains all that I expect from a McKillip fantasy – a type of story that the words “enchanting” and “spellbinding” are made to describe. I always look for the enchantments in her novels. The spells are there in abundance: in the characters in the here and now, behind the veil, and lost in legend; in the music and language; in the everyday events clouded by mists of the mind… or sometimes even literal mists!What is Kingfisher about?Pierce Oliver, son of a sorceress who hid him from his father, seeks out his heritage and his destiny amongst the knights of Severluna... and along the way picks up a magical knife from a Friday Nite Fish Fry.Carrie cooks scrumptious experiments at the Kingfisher Bar and Grill. She is startled but not altogether surprised when her father Merle shapeshifts into a wolf. He wants to tell her something… but cannot seem to say it directly.Daimon, youngest and illegitimate son of the king, drifts into another place and another time, in love with a mysterious woman, who is connected to his absent mother and the powerful, long-lost Ravenhold kingdom.All three are drawn into a quest for a fabled cauldron, only recognizable to the one who already knows it in their heart. It is an artifact claimed by both the followers of the god Severen and the goddess Calluna... and other forces. A cauldron so powerful it can bring back the dead. The king declares his knights shall go out on a quest to find this object of power and bring it back to the service of Severen, and sooner or later everyone (knight or not!) will be seeking it.These spellbound, enchanted, and trapped people are caught in cobwebs of mystic powers and the wills of forces returning from myth and legend.This was a captivating book. It presents a fantastic modern-day Arthurian court, where male and female knights whizz around in cars and on motorbikes. (They also hack at each other with broad swords and compete in “Ribbon Dance style street fighting”!) Where sorceresses live in anonymity in fishing villages and make phone calls to their wayward sons. A basilisk sits atop a firetruck, causing a traffic pileup on a highway.The premise and the setting instantly drew me in. The characters are charmingly befuddled while being swept along in their stories, not sure how to take charge but not weak-willed either. And maybe just by bumbling along and following their hunches they’ll make it to the end of their quests.Nevertheless, despite the enchantments and charm, the story stumbles somewhat. Pierce, Daimon, and Carrie could each have carried the weight of a novel on their storylines alone. Instead, action and characterization were thin as the narrative jumps between them, packing three stories into a scant 346 pages. The story never feels horribly rushed, but I couldn’t help but want more depth and more… explanation? Organic flow? Certainly the ending was strong and not too neatly wrapped up. But getting to that point felt stretched in places.McKillip’s prose is beautiful and sweeping. It skillfully sketches the scene and the landscape, punctuating it with short bursts of dialogue that burst like Carrie’s scrumptious tidbits in your mouth, with the focus bearing down on individual words in characters’ utterances. No word or scene is wasted – but the end result feels a little watered down, a little misty, instead of impactful.But then again, this is a story that even the characters seem to come at obliquely, speaking vaguely, as if to catch events unawares before a spell can stop them. The reward is short moments of startling clarity and honesty, and dashes of almost absurd situational humor that put me in mind of Diana Wynne Jones’ magnificent plots and characters.So while not a perfect novel, Kingfisher ended up being exactly what I thought I was ordering when I picked McKillip off the menu. It’s not to be missed by long-time fans of her work, or people looking for a delightful contemporary Arthurian quest.

  • Casey
    2019-05-16 08:34

    Kingfisher is technically an urban fantasy, although it is not like any typical urban fantasy book. It's a modern version of King Arthur and the quest for the Holy Grail, but it takes place in a completely different world. It's not modern day Chicago or anything like that.Pierce Oliver lives with his mother, a sorceress, who left his father before he was even born. At the very beginning he meets three knights, clad in leather jackets, and this sparks his interest in finding his father, who presumably is living in King Arden's court.Alongside his story is Carrie, a waitress/cook at the Kingfisher Bar and Grill, and her involvement with another strange restaurant that serves tasteless food; Daimon, the bastard son of King Arden, whose mother supposedly died shortly after his birth; Perdita, daughter of King Arden and Queen Genevra, who is something like an acolyte to the female god Calluna; and Merle, the eccentric father of Carrie.All of the character plotlines intersect as the knights of the land start looking for a special cup that has great power.There are the dichotomous themes of male vs. female and human vs. magical creatures.The world-building, while intriguing, is rather scant. All throughout part one I was trying to figure out what the heck was going in regards to the setting. Once I got to part two I realized that it was a completely fantastical world.It's a world with modern conveniences and technology mashed with King Arthur's court. There are parallels to the Holy Grail quest, I'm assuming. It's been awhile since I've read that.The story reads somewhat like a fairytale. There's a lot of cooking. Which I am still trying to figure out how that relates to the major plot of the book. Maybe it doesn't, and it's more of a throwback to how people are also being trapped/killed by eating ensorcelled food.I would recommend this book if you want to read something different in the fantasy genre. It did remind me of Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant, although less impactful, so maybe if you liked that you would like Kingfisher. I think the concept is great, but the delivery left more desired. And the ending, while happy, felt un-climatic.

  • Maryam
    2019-05-03 03:34

    3.5Full review available here : https://thecurioussffreader.wordpress...Kingfisher was my first Patricia McKillip book but it probably won’t be the last. McKillip’s writing style is very lyrical and the pacing of the book was very good. It was a slow-paced story but I never find myself bored and I flew through this book.The story starts of with only one character, Pierce Oliver, who is searching for his father but after the opening chapter, we are introduced to three other characters whose stories are all going to converge slowly. All the characters were interesting and I was intrigued by every of their perspectives. The story didn’t have a ton of character development but I didn’t mind it.The plot took a little time to fall into place and at first it seemed like the book was more a painting of the lives of different people than an actual story, but like I said before, McKillip’s writing style made it easy to read the book.However, I won’t recommend reading this book if you’re hungry because, a lot of important scenes takes places at the Kingfisher Inn and, you have a ton of description of meals. One time, I read a very descriptive scene about cooking just before lunch, and the only thing I wanted to do was to jump into the book to eat EVERYTHING mentionned. It was torture. :PAnyway, I really enjoyed Kingfisher, it wasn’t the best fantasy book I read in my life or even this year, but it was a very comforting read and even if I was a bit unsettled by the modern setting at first, I would still recommend it (just beware if you want it to be a sort of Arthurian tale, it kind of is but kind of not at the same time and you may be a little disappointed.)I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Jacqie
    2019-04-26 01:43

    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.I've read a bit of Patricia McKillip and always enjoyed her gentle yet acerbic fantasies. This book, though, I could never get a handle on.On the one hand, our characters live in a world much like ours. They use cell phones, work in restaurants that advertise on highway billboards, and vend tickets for cultural sights. On the other, the tickets they're vending are for the temple of an active goddess, knights are driving around in automobiles, and sorceresses cook in restaurant kitchens. Is it urban fantasy? Is it all a dream? The writing was very dreamlike as the reader slips from a contemporary setting into myth and back again. The formatting of the ARC I read was really bad, too, making it still more difficult for me to find a rhythm. There are some obvious shout-outs to Arthurian legend and the story of Parsifal. There's a magic cauldron that will make whatever you want. Knights are sent off on a quest for a Mcguffin that is hiding in plain sight. While the writing was undoubtedly good, and the book did make me hungry (lots of food descriptions) I could never settle into it and I always felt like I was missing something. I never was concerned for any of the characters because there didn't seem to be any danger- everything was so unreal. So I never really got drawn into the book and in fact was a bit frustrated by it, because it seemed that there was a level of understanding I never cracked.

  • katayoun Masoodi
    2019-04-28 02:43

    i love mckillip's writing, and this time also was great. the story was different than all the rest and so for the first chapters it needed a bit getting used to for a hardcore mckillip fanatic (that i am) but then the story, the people, the mix of ideas... a pro storyteller just gets to you. i am in love and think this world of modern and magic was the perfect direction, this different was good and was at a right time. i also think this world has more stories to tell and hoping for more.

  • Kathy Davie
    2019-04-21 04:27

    A standalone novel that blends fantasy with a reality.My TakeIt’s quirky. It’s odd. It’s fascinating. It’s a McKillip all right with her beautifully descriptive writing that pulls you right in. It is not, however, the jewel-like stories I’ve read before. No, this is merely a warning that you shouldn’t expect the very fantastical fairy tales you may be used to.Instead, Kingfisher is an easygoing and odd blend of a fairy tale of today with its cellphones, limousines, and electric bikes, knights on quests, a casual acceptance of magic used in the old ways and in new, and a cryptic appearance of the fay. Further adding to the unconventional is the queen’s acceptance and concern for her husband’s bastard, the unconventional love life of the queen and king, and the friendly(?) competition within the royal family between competing gods.The quest will reveal “the landscape of the heart”.McKillip keeps you wondering throughout as to what exactly is happening, much of it appearing unrelated and some of it eventually tying in. That ending certainly doesn’t help. I have to wonder if McKillip intends for this to be the start of a series, as she leaves so many questions unanswered. Yet she does answer some questions — I can’t help but like Daimon and his insight into Ravenhold’s issues — so maybe this is truly a standalone?Pierce’s comments about his mother do crack me up, and this one points up the modernity of it:”’People come here?’ the fire-giant said dubiously. ‘On purpose?’’Like I said, it’s the only town on Cape Misbegotten.’’Then why isn’t it on the map?’ the blond with the temperate eyes asked reasonably. ‘Our driver couldn’t even find it on paper.’’Oh, that was probably my mother. Sometimes she hides things and forgets.’”What’s the deal about the knights hunting their ancestors? Why do those “ghostly” images appear around Bayley, Pierce, and Roarke? Why does Sir Leith not call the king and warn him about the Knights of the Rising God’s deeds? How can Carrie be so stupid as to continue going to Stillwater? McKillip does give a reason, but it doesn’t bear out with what is happening. What was the deal with the ceremony preceding the fish fry?What was the purpose of the basilisk scene? Was it filler? An adventure to fill out the quest “requirement” of perils? That basilisk certainly was an odd duck, and I’d like to know why she so desperately wants Sir Leith.Deli-style knife fighting?? Oh, man, lol, Pierce is definitely channeling the Karate Kid. And it’s Pierce’s demonstration that kickstarts Val’s memory.The food is fascinating. There’s the Kingfisher Grill’s, which sounds so yummy — I need to go to a fish fry, now!, and then there’s the divine non-edibles that Carrie creates at Stillwater’s.”…until nothing was left of the dying man but life.”It’s really three stories in one that combine at the end: Pierce’s thirst to explore outside his hometown, the grail quest with our introduction to the ruling family, and Carrie’s reveal of the Kingfisher Inn’s background and its characters. It’s both fascinating and not enough. I want more.The StoryIt’s the visit by the knights seeking a route home that pushes Pierce into following his heart.Hidden away from the world by his mother, Pierce has grown up working in her restaurant in Desolation Point, until one day, when Heloise tells her son the truth about his father, a knight in King Arden’s court; about an older brother he never knew existed; about his father’s destructive love for King Arden’s queen; and, Heloise’s decision to raise her younger son alone.As Pierce journeys to Severluna, he learns that things are changing in that kingdom. Ancient magic is on the rise. The immensely powerful artifact of an ancient god has come to light, and the king is gathering his knights to quest for this profound mystery, which may restore the kingdom to legendary glory — or destroy it.The CharactersPierce Oliver, a.k.a., Sir Kitchen Knight, works in his mother’s restaurant, Haricot, and dreams of escape. Protective of her son, Heloise Oliver is a powerful sorceress who has retired (mostly) from magic and runs a restaurant in Desolation Point located at Cape Misbegotten. Arn Brisket is the sheriff of Desolation Point who longs for Heloise.The Kingfisher Inn is……located on Chimera Bay, a much-faded grand landmark with its own spells and its restaurant, the Kingfisher Grill, with its famous All-U-Can-Eat Friday Nite Fish Frys. Hal and Lilith Fisher are its estranged owners. Miranda was Hal and Lilith’s daughter. Tye Fisher is Hal’s brother and the bartender. The Fishers seem to have a relationship of sorts with Heloise. Ella is the cook and their mother. Bek, the purple-haired Jayne, and Marjorie help serve the food.Carrie is the frustrated daughter who is a brilliant and quirky cook at the inn. Merle Teague is her eccentric father who refuses to give her answers. Zed Cluny is Carrie’s busy, easygoing lover and their neighbor.Hal’s particular friends (and knights) include Ian Steward; Jarvis Day; Curt Sloan and his son, Gabe; Josh Ward; Father Kirk from St. Benedict; and, Reverend Gusset from Trinity Lutheran.Sage Stillwater is the enthralled wife of the celebrity chef, Todd Stillwater.Severluna is……the capital in the land of Wyvernbourne, a conquered blend of many small kingdoms, ruled over by King Arden IX. Genevra is his queen. Prince Roarke Wyvernbourne is the heir. Prince Ingram, Princess Isolde, and Princess Perdita, the youngest child and best friends with Daimon, are the rest of the king and queen’s children.Prince Daimon is Arden’s youngest, and bastard, son who is comfortable with god and goddess. Ana was his mother who died at childbirth.Sir Leith Duresse is one of the king’s knights and Pierce’s father. Sir Val is his firstborn son, and the reason Heloise ran. Sir Gareth May has the Winter King of the North with its Winter Merlin as his ancestor? heraldic crest?; he’s also in love with Princess Perdita, although she has her doubts about his commitment. Sir Bayley Reeve is the "fire-giant" to whom Pierce refers. Dame Scotia Malory is from the north; the disreputable Tavis Malory was an ancestor. Other knights include Lord Kraken, Dame Maggie Leighton, Sir Block of Wood and Straw, Sir Jeffrey Holmes, Dame Rachel Thistleton, Sir Cudgel, Sir Alexander Beaumus, Sir Lidian Hulte is Lady Clarice's husband, Sir Guy Morton, Dame Cynthia Barkley, Sir Graham Beamish, and Sir Kyle Steward is the snotty first cousin to the king and seneschal of the palace. Sir Niles Camden will lead the motorcycle-riding gang of thuggish knights, the Knights of the Rising God. Sylvester, Lord Skelton, is the court magus. Jeremy Barleycorn is the tournament announcer.Severn is the god the king and his court worship. Lord Ruxley is the court mystes. Calluna is the water goddess worshipped by the women and the female side of the royal family. I think Mystes Holly Halliwell is the chief acolyte of Calluna. The dotty Lady Morrig Seabrook is both great-aunt and Mistress of Acolytes, and both Wyvernbourne and Ravensley.Tanne’s shrine is watched over by Sara’s grandfather.Skylar and Sondra are part of the school group touring the holy birthplace of Calluna with Lady Clarice as a guide. Marcia Holmes works in the palace kitchens.Ravenhold is……a conquered kingdom of the fay which led to the disappearance of its human kingdom, one of the earliest realms in the land. Berenicia was its queen at that time and an ancestor of Vivien Ravensley, her heir.It sounds as if a mystes is an acolyte of a god(dess).The Cover and TitleThe cover is dreamy with its watery blues and greens swirling around the bust of a meditating red-haired beauty dressed in an elaborate gown of encrusted gold.The title is the focus of the quest, the Kingfisher.

  • Metaphorosis
    2019-05-03 04:45

    3.5 stars - Metaphorosis ReviewsA network of families explore their common past, and search for a powerful historical object in an invented but modern fantasy landscape. Patricia McKillip's greatest strength is her ability to produce dreamy but compelling language - almost invariably about characters searching for a vague but romantic sense of place or self. Usually, the search takes place in a traditional fantasy landscape, where magic is often mentioned but seldom seen. In Kingfisher, she steps away from that with a faux-modern setting, complete with cars, and dishwashers, but also mysterious powers, similar to what we've seen in some of her recent short stories. The magic remains mostly allusive and mysterious.The setting worked very nicely, though it took a while to realize exactly what world McKillip was using. Where the novel has less success is in its deeply allegorical theme, replete with references to Arthurian legend, and all set against a backdrop of Christian religion.In my view, McKillip does best when she's focused on one character, trying to make sense of the world based only on scraps and fog. Here, there are simply too many characters, all connected, and not enough actual plot. The Christian elements only weakened the story for me. While they're not directly alluded to, they're hard to miss, including in the book's title, Kingfisher. While the book plays with religion in general, it's hard to escape the implication that Christianity is what really matters.McKillip hasn't lost any of her writing skill, but I found this novel unsatisfying. While the prose is as good as always, the plot is murky rather than mystical, and the allegory heavy-handed rather than delicate. A passable book, but not up to the usual McKillip standard.

  • Stephanie
    2019-05-01 01:36

    *4.5 stars*Gorgeously written and full of a real, shiver-inducing sense of wonder. KINGFISHER blends Arthurian mythology with the most believable & evocative created religion I've found in any fantasy novel except for Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion series, in a unique high fantasy setting complete with castles, questing knights AND motorcycles, fish fries and cell phones. I liked and admired the first section but didn't find it unputdownable; then I started reading Part 2, and BAM! I was hooked and absolutely loving it from then onward. I wondered for a while, as I read, whether she should have just started the story at the beginning of Part 2, but by the end, it had all circled round in a perfect mix and I understood exactly why that first part had been so essential.This is the most genuinely *magical* fantasy novel I've read in a long time, and I loved sinking into it.

  • William Leight
    2019-04-25 07:38

    By now, the world is hardly crying out for more reinventions of the King Arthur legend, which has been rewritten just about every way you can think of. So Patricia McKillip does the smart thing here: she takes a handful of interesting scenes — the young Percival seeing knights pass by his isolated home and resolving to leave for Camelot; his first visit to the Fisher King’s castle, with its strange procession, where he fails to ask the question that could have solved everything; Gareth arriving at Camelot as a kitchen boy, and being scorned by Kay; and a few others — and uses them, along with the idea of the Grail quest, to write the story she wants to write. Arthurian purists should stay away: our hero, Pierce, is undoubtedly based on Percival, but he also has Gareth’s kitchen-boy arrival, and his father is Lancelot. Meanwhile, Hal Fisher, owner of the Kingfisher Bar and Grill, is the Fisher King, but he’s also Arthur, with a round table and a group of knights, as well as a buddy named Merle with, apparently, magical powers (and also lycanthropism). Plus, the setting is a version of modern Britain where magic and gods interact easily with cars and cell phones. This last gives the whole book dreamlike, unreal air, which suits McKillip very well, as she usually prefers to operate at a slight remove from reality.That also suits the Arthurian legends, of course, which were disjointed and fantastical until a series of authors set about turning them from a loosely-connected series of romances into a narrative. McKillip doesn’t exactly go all the way back to the original format: there is undoubtedly a story connecting all the characters and plots, one taken (like the Arthurian legends, in fact) from Celtic mythology, concerning elves — though that word is never used, and these are the daoine sidhe, not to be confused with Tolkien’s elves despite some surface resemblances — and a magical cauldron that can heal the dead, the latter being the object of the quest rather than the Holy Grail (which obviously doesn’t exist in McKillip’s world, though apparently some scholars think that the grail quest may have been based, or at least taken inspiration from, various cauldrons of Celtic legend). However, for much of the book it’s not clear how this part of the story connects with the other half, which is, surprisingly, mostly about cooking. Pierce is inspired by the knights he meets to go to Severluna (this story’s Camelot), but not to become one of them: he wants to be a chef, and has considerable experience working in his mother’s restaurant. The Fisher King also owns a restaurant, and his procession opens the weekly Friday Nite Fish Fry, an all-you-can-eat dinner: Carrie, Merle’s daughter and the second main character, works for him as a sous-chef. Even the main villain, Stillwater, is a chef who runs a fancy restaurant (one of the morals "Kingfisher" is that molecular gastronomy is hazardous to your health). Only the final main character, Prince Daimon, the king’s youngest and illegitimate (though openly acknowledged) son, has no connection to cooking.It is perhaps not a coincidence that Daimon is also the most interesting of the three. Pierce stumbles naively from place to place, for the most part not really knowing what’s going on, doing things without understanding why, and getting by through a combination of fantastic luck and helpful parents. His mother is not just a restaurateur but also an extremely powerful sorceress (there’s a running joke in which Pierce can never quite be certain that an inquisitive bird or squirrel or what have you is not his mother keeping an eye on him), while his father, who he spends the last part of the book traveling with, is (as the book’s Lancelot) the foremost knight at the court. Carrie knows that something funny is going on involving the Kingfisher and Stillwater, but she has trouble figuring it out (not that it would really be possible for her to do so), and nobody is willing to tell her anything for reasons that never quite make sense. (Her father, despite being Merlin, is not helpful at all.) Only Daimon really knows what is going on, and so has an interesting conflict to resolve: however, he spends a good portion of the book under a spell and so not really doing much, and in a typically McKillip-esque move, Daimon’s conflict is resolved in a way that suggests that it was never really a conflict at all. At least Stillwater remains a villain to the end, and his villainy receives a satisfactory resolution, but this is probably because it doesn’t have a particularly close connection to any of the main characters. (Also, the country’s two main religions, an ultra-masculine religion of combat and money and an ultra-feminine one that is all about sex and nature, are competing to be the first to find the cauldron, both claiming it as their own: this aspect of the story is both cliche-ridden and disconnected from the rest of the plot, and I wasn’t quite sure why it was here at all.)Still, I quite enjoyed “Kingfisher” despite its shortcomings. The setting was interesting, and its modern aspects prevented McKillip from smothering everything in pre-Raphaelite-flavored romanticism, as she sometimes does in her books with more traditional medieval fantasy settings. (I did note, however, that the only person in the book who is not handsome, pretty, or beautiful is the villain.) Indeed, there were points where the story was light-hearted or even funny. And though the plot often doesn’t quite cohere, you (mostly) don’t feel cheated: the loose ends scattered about at the end of the book seem natural. It’s a bit of a mishmash, but so is her source material, after all, and doing it this way keeps the scope of the project small and its earnestness at reasonable levels, thus helping her avoid the most obvious pitfalls of an Arthurian retelling. It’s not the book I was expecting, and it’s the more successful for that.

  • Grace Troxel
    2019-04-25 04:27

    This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures:http://bookswithoutanypictures.com/20...Patricia McKillip has long been one of my favorite authors, and when I heard about Kingfisher, I knew I had to read it. McKillip creates ethereal and breathtaking works of art, and I expected Kingfisher to be exquisite. However, this novel doesn’t live up to her earlier stories. It’s not that Kingfisher is bad, per se, but rather that it lacks focus.The story begins with Pierce Oliver. Pierce’s mother is a sorceress, and she’s hidden his sleepy New England-esque town from the rest of the world using a glamour. Pierce’s father left when he was just a baby, and one day, Pierce feels the need to find him. He sets off on a soul-seeking quest, leaving his rural abode and traveling to the city of Severluna.Meanwhile, the King has called upon his knights to embark upon a quest to find an ancient vessel. And so they pull up their motorcycles and begin traveling up the coast, drudging up ancient magic and long-kept secrets. In that process, we meet a lot of side characters, each of whom plays a part in the larger story. But the characters aren’t really connected to each other until the very end of the book when the story begins to come to a cohesive whole, and so for much of Kingfisher, I felt myself wondering why I should care about some of the characters who felt not only minor but tangential.The setting of Kingfisher is a blend of the mythical and modern, but without any sort of initial worldbuilding, the juxtaposition leaves readers with a sense of dreamlike unease. It takes a long time to learn enough about the world to begin to understand it, and equally as long to realize how the characters are connected. There wasn’t any kind of anchor for readers to grab onto, and so for most of the book, I felt completely lost.But setting aside the disjointed nature of Kingfisher, there were several things that I did appreciate. I enjoyed the ritual Friday Night Fish Fry at the Kingfisher Inn, and the camaraderie between the kitchen staff and the guests. In fact, the Kingfisher Inn was the only place in the entire book that I felt like I’d truly enjoy stepping into. And I enjoyed Merle, a secretive shapechanging wolf who frequents the Kingfisher, and whom everyone there seems to accept exactly for who and what he is. Kingfisher was also permeated with Arthurian references and Easter eggs, which made me happy because I had a bit of an obsession with King Arthur as a teenager. In fact, many of the individual elements of Kingfisher were fantastic, it’s just that with so many disparate elements combined, the story felt as if it couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to be.

  • E.
    2019-04-28 00:26

    4.75 stars"Kingfisher" by Patricia A. McKillip starts with a simple young man, Pierce Oliver, who goes on a quest to find his father, despite his mother’s protests. His discovery of previously unknown relatives, acquisition of an unusual knife, and shocking introduction to a complicated society demands that he remember the teachings of his magical mother even as he comes to learn more about his family and heritage. He is not the only one in search of his identity, as the royal offspring and others set out on a quest that is initiated by king and his advisors but turns out to have implications for far more than just the realm of Severluna.This mystical fantasy reminds me of why I am always hesitant to start one of this author’s books. I am enchanted by the intricate prose and fascinated by her ability to weave commonplace occurrences with fantastical events and mystical meanings, and I can’t get anything else done until the story is finished. It’s been quite some time since I fell in love with her ‘Riddle-Master of Hed’ trilogy, which offered new gems every time I read it, but this story reinforced the magic that she can weave with her words.There are so many classic mythological motifs blended in this story that are counterbalanced by pragmatic modern elements such as motorcycles, cars, and cell phones, that one’s head spins while trying to juggle the disparate elements that nonetheless are woven into an engaging tapestry. The sheer fun of floating along the storyline and hanging on during the whirlpool story changes while all of the threads eventually coalesce reflects the water theme of the overall story and I daresay that each reading of this book will reveal new aspects. I love the unexpected twists and phlegmatic acceptance of fantastical elements, such as a young man crabbing being accosted by a group of men whose shadows show that they are more than they seem—but so is he. The multilayers of the story and the seemingly effortless blending of a multiplicity of actions that all lead back to a single point made this an exquisite read that will undoubtedly tempt me to revisit again and again these atypical knights who quest for a revered prize as well as their true identities and roles in life. The sheer number of intriguing characters and odd situations and half-solved mysteries make me hopeful that this world will be revisited in the future, as I am sure there is a plethora of tales that can still be told about those in Severluna and the rest of the unusual lands.A copy of this delicious title was provided to me for review, a version of which was submitted to Night Owl Reviews

  • Lis Carey
    2019-04-21 02:23

    In a world where modern technology exists alongside magic, the magical beasts are not yet quite extinct, and King Arden reigns in the capital city of Severluna, Pierce Oliver has grown up the son of a sorceress who has retired from court to raise her son on a rather bleak cape, where she runs a restaurant. When she finally tells her son the truth about his father, a knight at King Arden's court, she sets off a chain of events that will have major repercussions.Pierce sets out for Severluna, driving his car because that's the kind of fantasy this is. He's not quite there when he finds himself in Chimera Bay, at the Kingfisher Inn--or at least the restaurant that operates in the remains of the Kingfisher Inn. One of the men there is also a wolf; a young woman who cooks there is strange in her own ways--and is about to make a big mistake. And while there, Pierce witnesses a strange ritual involving a large knife, which he then feels compelled to steal.Meanwhile, in Severluna, Prince Damien, the king's youngest child and bastard son, has been enchanted by a young woman who wants him to visit her home village, which is apparently nowhere on the map. King Arden is about to order his knights on a quest to find an ancient, magical cauldron.Two different gods, or rather a god and a goddess, regard that cauldron as rightfully theirs.Princess Perdita, the king's legitimate daughter born at nearly the same time as Prince Damien, is greatly worried by her brother's strange distraction, and starts following him around. Or is she following someone set to deliberately misdirect her?The sorceress wants her son back. The goddess wants her cauldron back. Some at least of the king's knights want to make the god supreme over all other gods.The knife Pierce stole has its own agenda. So does the cauldron.This is as beautiful as McKillip's short fantasy novels typically are, beautifully written, gentle, surprising, and intricate. I love the characters, and even the villains are well-done. Highly recommended.I received a free copy of this audiobook from Audible in exchange for an honest review.

  • Michael
    2019-05-05 07:31

    It may be cliche, but I must start this review with, "How does she do it?" Without being at all formulaic, Patricia A. McKillip has managed to write a stunning series of stand-alone novels (shocking in the fantasy genre) that consistently weave wonder, magic, romance, adventure, and stunningly complex characters, male and female with such startling consistency and nary a misstep in over thirty years! In her latest novel, Kingfisher she creates an astounding number of well-define, diverse characters in a fantastic world that blends modern day, with the time of knights, and the remains of magic. Each character is distinct and memorable, even when they don't appear for chapter on end. She also deftly creates several factions all seeking the same goal for different purposes, but in such a way that the reader is never quite sure who to root for? Is there one group that is in the right? Another working for nefarious purposes? It's hard to tell, right up to the fantastically mystical denouement.As usual, her prose drips with exquisite language that in and of itself is a joy to experience. And again, coupled with a complex and delicious stories mainly centered around food, in fact, and the magic inherent in the creation of a superb meal. Patricia A. McKillip, admittedly, is my favorite author, so take this review with a grain of salt, but I stand by it.

  • John
    2019-04-21 06:38

    Here is some brilliant writing. All the Arthurian nuances, echoes, and enchantments (there are a lot of enchantments) somehow make the cars, cell phones, and other modern elements the eldritch parts. Left off that fifth star because it took me a long time to get into the story--not least because the trope where a character asks questions and gets no answers was used so often that it became annoying. But if, like me, you find the general run of fantasy (and SF) verbose and slow, here's a sterling example of how atmosphere, back story and complexities of character can be expressed economically, with few if any wasted words. And the descriptions of food! Wowza!And McKillip can craft some magical lines:"She sighed. 'Tell him I miss him, and I don't understand a word he's not saying.'""'Let me know,' she said, too softly for him to hear except with his heart, 'if you want to talk.'""'If nobody's talking, I'll find a new way of listening.'""Perdita saw the look in her mother's eye of a woman on the verge of kindling lightning with her hair."

  • Henry Lazarus
    2019-05-02 04:30

    Patricia A. McKillip, author of my favorite Riddle-Master (paper) trilogy that should be in every fan’s collection, has a tale of a King who sends his knights out to seek the pot that restored health to their river god. At the same time Pierce Oliver, son of a sorceress, drives to the capital city to find the father and brother he’s never met and gets caught up with the quest. The knights set off in motorcycles, limousines, and personal cars and stay in touch with cell phones, or, in the case of Pierce, with talking birds. The Fae have also gotten involved using their connection to the King’s bastard son. They are looking for their missing cauldron that can feed everyone, and their lost King. It all ends up at the Kingfisher (hard from Ace) Inn located in an abandoned hotel. I haven’t decided whether this is a work of genius or not, but it might make its way to an award nomination.Review printed by Philadelphia Weekly Press

  • Tish
    2019-04-26 02:44

    I read this book without having read a description of it or any reviews, so I had no preconceived idea of what to expect. What I found was a somewhat strange, lyrical tale of a world that is like our reality but with a layer of magic and mysticism covering it, or maybe it's the other way around: a magical world with a layer of reality on top. Anyway, there are numerous allusions to Arthurian legends, but I would not call it a retelling of any particular one, at least not one I've read. Too unique for that. There are a lot of different threads in this story and not everything was explained and all neatly wrapped up by the end, yet it still felt very satisfying. Very enjoyable!Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book.

  • Sean
    2019-04-21 01:48

    This book reminded me of a Tim Powers novel, with ancient, mythical beings battling in the modern day. Except this is the "modern day" of a McKillip fantasy world with sorceresses and kitchen magic and not Los Angeles or Las Vegas. Except apparently Greece is still a thing in this world?Anyway, I liked a lot of this book, but the ending was muddled and left me feeling cheated and annoyed. Also a little depressed at how long it's been since McKillip wrote anything I loved.

  • Kelley Ceccato
    2019-05-04 06:43

    Fantasy novels with contemporary settings generally leave me cold, but McKillip's gorgeously lyrical and often ethereal prose style does it for me. I'd read more contemporary-set fantasy if it were more often written with the mystical sense of wonder I find in this one.In my teens I loved Arthurian fiction; I've had my share of delightful daydreams about riding into adventure as a knight. Yet somewhere along the way I lost my taste for it, as it started to bother me more that female characters in these stories are generally untrustworthy at best and evil at worst, and distrust of female magic is baked into the legend. There were times when I thought I could see this same distrust in McKillip's novel. But in the end she affirmed my faith in her, as issues of good and evil magic are far more complicated than they initially seem, and the sorceress Heloise turns out to be a hero.Heloise is one of a number of sympathetic and interesting characters here. Pierce, our main protagonist, is an earnest young man with a moral code, a good hero to root for. I love Carrie, the gifted cook, a welcome presence after the several books I've read in which the gifted cooks are men. (Check out Karen Lord's Redemption in Indigo to get to know another female culinary genius.) And then there's my favorite, the towering female knight Dame Scotia Malory, who at different points in the book saves each important male character. If a second volume happens, please, Ms. McKillip, make Scotia the protagonist.Yet Scotia also turns out to be a part of my problem with the book, as she becomes a victim of unrequited love, and thus an example of a TVTrope I hate, "No Guy Wants an Amazon." Normally I like McKillip's romantic plots, but if you're looking for romance you won't find it in this one. Several male characters fall in love, but not a one of their love interests is worth the bother. The female characters who ARE worth a darn-- Scotia, Heloise, Carrie -- have to do without love. Oh, yes, I forgot Princess Perdita, but that's understandable because the narrative forgets her too, building her up and then omitting her from the climax and conclusion.Nonetheless, a fine read. Recommended.