Review Blog

Apr 10 2019

Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip

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Ace Books, 2016. ISBN: 9780425271766.
(Age: 16+) Recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Coming of age. Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature (2017. In an unusual blend of Arthurian legends and those of the Fisher King, McKillip has given readers a unique tale that contrasts with many of the popular urban fantasy stories that dwell on werewolves and vampires. Hidden away by his sorceress mother Heloise, Pierce Oliver does not know that his father is alive and that he has an older brother. After he encounters knights being driven in a limousine and using mobile phones, Heloise admits the truth and he decides to go to Severluna, where his father is part of the king's court. On his way he meets a chef at the Kingfisher Inn, Carrie, who also wants to uncover secrets that Merle her father has hidden from her. And at King Arden's court, Prince Daimon, the King's bastard, also learns about his mother, who he always believed was dead. The fates of these three characters, Pierce, Carrie and Daimon, are all entwined and manipulated masterfully by the author as King Arden sends his knights out on a quest to find the sacred and powerful artefact of the god Severen.
McKillip skilfully blends tropes from legend and modern urban fantasy and readers may well find themselves looking up the legend of the Fisher King, working out who he was and where he stood in the story, as well as keeping tabs on possible characters that might belong to the King Arthur references.
The strange world of sorcery and modern technology, is peopled with a plethora of important secondary characters - it was helpful to keep a list - all of whom play an important role for each of the characters.
Intertwined with the masterful management of the legends, are age-old themes of coming of age, of forgiveness and love and some mouth-watering glimpses of food.
Kingfisher is a rich and complex story that will be remembered long after it is finished, as readers ponder the combination of technology and myth and the relationships between parent and young adult.
Pat Pledger

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