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The story that gives the title and opens this collection is a bit atypical for the author, as it includes time travel Future scientists go back to the past in order to study and understand our ancestors The destination is the house of a preacher from Salem, introducing one of the recurrent themes of the collection the oppression of women through history by men who are afraid of granting them equal statusHe lay in the dim lights and fluttering shadows, in the long, long night of history, when no one could ever see clearly after sunset, and witches and angels and living dreams trembled just beyond the fire This type of story is something that Connie Willis excells at, but McKillip proves she is just as good The story also presents another common theme that runs like Ariadne s thread through all the other tales collected hereOh, stop You re mixing atoms and angels One exists, the other doesn t That s what I m trying to get at the point where existence is totally immaterial, where the passion, the belief in something creates a situation completely ruled by the will to believe That s insanity Maybe, but I find the desire, the passion, coupled with the accompanying imagery, fascinating Me too, Mrs McKillip I ve been a fanboy for quite some time of the beautiful style she uses for traslating this fascination into books filled with magic and wonder.Few of the rest of the stories here share the science fiction element It feels like the opening gambit s role was just to point out that belief is just as important as empirical knowledge when it comes to define our existenceEven if the tales weren t true, truth would never stand a chance against themSo most of the following tales are urban fantasy with a couple secondary world mythical realms thrown in McKillip shares with Charles de Lint and a couple of other writers close to her in style Gaiman, Beagle, Holdstock the concept of the primeval forest as the source and the gateway to the imaginary realms Men can built concrete edifices completely covering the land, but underneath this are all the myths and legends and the mystery that wait in shadow for the moment when reality is no longer enough to feed our imagination.I ll quote next some of the passages that I liked or found relevantThink of magic as an untamed creature I am learning ways to impose my will upon it, while it fights me with all its cunning for its freedom It sounds like your garden My favorite kind of magic This is from Out of the Woods I don t care much for the mechanical learning of spells that always have the desired effect and feel like the game engine of an RPG game I m looking at you, Sanderson I much prefer this unpredictable, dangerous and mysterious force that eludes than reveals The dialogue is between a scattter brained magician that retreats from civilization to a cottage in the forest a sort of Schmendrick and a housewife that is only a workhorse in the eyes of her husband see the connection to the themes I mentioned above A touch of humor is always a welcome ingredient in any tale of mineThis is not at all what I expected the unexpected to be like From Oak Hill Teenage rebellion against suburban life sends Maris running away from home and familyin search of Bordertown the place where you can cross from the real to the imaginary Here she will find self confidence and breathtaking beauty, but also terrifying malevolence Truebloods on Oak Hill are a sort of Elvish bike gangs, fortunately not of the sparkling kindThat s the thing about paintings They only show you one moment of the tale you have to guess at the rest of it From Jack O Lantern a story about a young girl trying to break free of the constraints of Victorian morals, I like this quote because it s one of the most concise and clear arguments in favour of the short story format they are mostly starting points catalysts for the reader, who must use his own imagination to fill in the backstory and what comes next Having said this, my favorite tales in the collection are the two longer novellas, where the author spends time on the characters and the setting The Kelpie set around the artist community in Ireland and Knight at the Well set in an imaginary world where water, the sea, rivers, fountains play a central role I guess I m a sucker for romance, as these two stories also have in common the focus on young people in love Unrequited love and a touch of danger spice things up along the routeBe careful of teeth, and don t fall in love with the waterbornis sound advice for wandering into these invisible realmsNobody said the word aloud everyone danced around it they all knew what he meant, though none had ever been there That, Reck thought, was the strangest thing about the realm of Faerie no one had seen, no one had been, no one said the word But everyone knewByndley is a small village hidden in an ancient forest Here comes Reck, the king s wizard, on a personal quest returning stolen property to the Queen of the Faerie A couple of stories show an awareness and an engagement in fighting pollution of the seas Undine is about a young siren setting out to kidnap her first human Xmas Cruise is about an older couple going on an Antarctic expedition and listening to a lot of interesting debates about marine lifeThe sleep of fishes They weren t human They weren t even mammals They didn t need to dream They didn t have eyelids How do they sleepOne story seems a little out of sync with the rest, but it holds a special appeal to me, as it is a retelling of one of the first fairytales I remember reading on my own instead of having it read to me The Twelve Dancing Princesses It s about a common soldier being kind to a stranger and being rewarded with advice of how to break the spell that haunts a neighboring kingdom and gain the hand of one of his daughters into the bargain Loved it The last story in the selection The Doorkeeper of Khaat is like the first not only a beautifully spun tale, but also a confession of the artistic credo of the authorwords kept the world orderly, kept the past from vanishingA poet born into a nation Tatia bent on world domination and a girl born in Khaati an ancient nation tearing itself apart in civil war debate the use of language McKillip rarely includes her own poetry in the text, but I m glad to come across such gems from time to timeSoul, like butterfly, has no languageWe who walk from moment to moment,Must say where we have beenMoment to moment,Or we disappear.So, like rice pickers,We harvest words out of our mouths,To feed ourselves Another discussion between the poet and the girl is about civilization progress modernism pragmatismYou are cloud people, we reach right through you You have no past Sure we do, everyone does You have no gods, no magic, no shadows We had myths We never liked shadows You don t like secrets You don t like anything you can t take apart, put back together You explore everything, try to know everything If you know everything, where is the shadow to rest in What shadow The shadow you need crossing the desert of knowing everything The shadow behind the language I know enough to get along This seems like the right place to insert a You know nothing, Jon Snow joke here, but Kel the poet has his own journey of discovery to make, coming to terms with a parent suffering from an incurable disease and a girlfriend who ran away from him into a war zone Turning the last page, I am left wanting of the same Luckily, I still have quite a number of books yet to read from the author s catalogue As a bonus, this one concludes with a funny riff on the where do you get your ideas from question that haunts all popular authors The warmth, the humor, the sensibility that I have come to associate with McKillip prose is alive and well in her nonfiction guise. I have read Patricia Mckillip s novels before, I am certain of that but for some reason, I did not remember just how fantastic her world weaving and wordsmithery really are Wonders of the Invisible World satisfies on so many levels that had I the time, I would have reviewed each story in the anthology because each story deserves careful, individual attention As it is, unfortunately, I do not have the time so I shall focus on a few favourites Wonders of the Invisible World This story is a fantastic juxtaposition of the fantastical and science fiction While the occasions referenced to in the story have a paranormal aspect, Mckillip gives it a much benign framework when you realize that the main character is actually a time traveler and that the supernatural instances are carefully choreographed in part due to the new technology of the future What I loved about this short story is how, even in the limited space present in a short story, Mckillip manages to infuse so much personality in all her characters I would have happily read an entire book based on this premise and hopefully she will someday return to the world she creates in this story The Kelpie McKillip portrays almost perfectly the languorous life of painters set in a time she does not explicitly state but one can infer that this could be during Renaissance or some similar time when art is flourishing There is a sweetness to this story, a very real sense of danger in the mysterious and very sinister painter who is, despite all his unwelcome attention and unpleasant personality, very talented Ned and Emma s romance is so beautifully constructed without ever becoming too mushy, too romantic and melodramatic And trust me, I am one of the most difficult people to convince where fictional romance is concerned The paranormal aspects of this story neatly weaves in with the general atmosphere and the tone of the narrative as a whole It satisfied me despite its shortness Hunter s Moon and Oak Hill These two stories are both short but pack a punch by their very pithy nature None of the words, sentences in these two stories are wasted and it is only at the very end of them that you realize the weight of each sentence Jack O Lantern Perhaps my favourite in the entire collection, this story portrays the brief nature of childhood, the magic that is present even in children who straddle the fence between childhood and adulthood The story manages to steal magic out of very ordinary circumstances and highlights the plight of women in a past England It also very briefly, very sweetly shows us a lightning flash of romance A lovely story that I will return to when I need some magic in my own life Knight of the Well This one was delicious as well It crafted a world where water is worshipped and infused it with life, vibrant characters and a story that could be narrated fully in the length of a short story I loved this one as well Naming Day This one was pithy, clever and an awesome juxtaposition of magic and the ordinary life.As you can see by now, I loved all the stories in this collection and if I still have to tell you to try this out, well, you haven t been reading my review Honestly, if you like short stories, well, even if you don t like them usually, give these a try Patricia Mckillip is a master at what she does Strongly recommended. I was reading the story called Xmas Cruise while on the bus going to a party It was about an Antarctic cruise and I thought it was quite a theme for this collection, as there already was a story about an Arctic cruise But then I remembered Atwood mentioned she thought of many stories for this collection while on an Arctic cruise, so it made sense And much later I realised I wasn t reading Atwood s Stone Mattress In fact I had finished Stone Mattress about a month before and then I marvelled at how I could have gotten so confused over which book I was reading Maybe I wasn t even going to the party Maybe I was coming back from it.Nonetheless and in my defence , Margaret Atwood and Patricia A McKillip have something in common and I would venture to say it s a sense of wonder That sense of wonder is what makes stories in Wonders of the Invisible World so enchanting even if they often fail to bring things to a satisfying conclusion McKillip shows us slivers of magical worlds and we need to just accept those slivers as enough and not expect tightly structured plots or wait for the punchline At the end I was sometimes left slightly frustrated there were unanswered questions and absent resolutions, but the dreams induced by this collection were always wonderful in the most basic sense of the word that is full of wonder.We miss and crave a world full of magic that s why we read fantasy books But authors often forget that their characters who live in those fantastical worlds should be like us, therefore still looking for , for another form of magic That relentless search for enchantment and the supernatural was captured by McKillip so beautifully here Many fantasy books, paradoxically, are thin on amazement They often feature elaborate worlds with complex magic systems and a plethora of marvellous creatures but eventually make it all so pedestrian If you want to know what I m talking about read Out of the Woods , a story about a wizard who toiled at his wizardry and had no time for magic, or the eponymous story of the collection in which someone gets just the sort of supernatural they have been praying for In fact, every story in this collection tackles this theme in some way, so read them all. Of all Patricia McKillip s writings, perhaps this one is the most accessible The short stories seem to have a different tone to her longer works something less poetic, matter of fact It s a great collection pretty much all of the stories are strong, and each one contains a whole world and each world is so very different from the next There are some which are like her novels, and oddly they seem to be ones which people who re fans of her novels like less, based on the review Maybe it s because a novel may digress, may take time simply being lovely poetry and short stories have to go right to the heart of it, whatever that heart is Something that feels a bit too vague and artsy can come up totally inconclusive as a short story that s how I felt about just a couple of these, particularly Xmas Cruise On the other hand, the twist and uncertainty in Hunter s Moon works really well I m just not sure that I m meant to feel so vague about Xmas Cruise It made me feel like I was missing something.Most of the time, though, the stories are pretty strong I wasn t sure about some of them, and then they revealed themselves the Arthurian twist in Out of the Woods made me smile, and the way it contrasts the two worlds by laying them side by side, never saying anything explicitly about one or the other world, how they fit together I think my favourite story was Knight of the Well McKillip builds up a whole fantasy world, acquaints you wish it, turns it upside down and settles it down again in the space of what s still a pretty short story.Overall, a great collection McKillip s way with words remains a strength The contemporary feel of a couple of these didn t sit that well with me, partly because I was expecting something olde worlde, something to match the mythical look of the cover Other people might find it the best in to McKillip s work they ve ever had, though. [ KINDLE ] ☼ Wonders of the Invisible World ♨ Stylistically Rooted In Fairy Tale And Mythology, Imperceptible Landscapes Are Explored In These Opulent Stories From A Beloved Fantasy Icon There Are Princesses Dancing With Dead Suitors, A Knight In Love With An Official Of Exotic Lineage, And Fortune S Fool Stealing Into The Present Instead Of The Future In One Mesmerizing Tale, A Time Traveling Angel Is Forbidden To Intervene In Cotton Mather S Religious Ravings, While Another Narrative Finds A Wizard Seduced In His Youth By The Faerie Queen And Returning The Treasure That Is Rightfully Hers Bewitching, Bittersweet, And Deeply Intoxicating, This Collection Draws Elements From The Fables Of History And Re Creates Them In Startlingly Magical Ways McKillip s earlier works remain among my steadfast favorites, and I was happy to pick up her prior collection of short stories, Harrowing the Dragon, and devour it Unfortunately, the first story in this one started with a time traveler posing as an angel in front of Cotton Mather It s difficult to think of a less interesting premise from my perspective , and I ended up neglecting this book for months.I have to say that McKillip s shorter fiction strikes me as literary than her novels, whereby I m using the extremely biased definition of lit fic as has an ambiguous or depressing ending There s a lot intrusion of modern or futuristic settings, which I find jarring McKillip s signature poetical style lends itself really well for the kingdom fantasy subgenre, to the point where I feel like something s lacking when her stories reflect contemporary societies That said, if you want to see her stretch herself and display an impressive range, here s the place.I did find some gems in here in the second story, Out of the Woods, a woman begins a new job as a wizard s housekeeper McKillip plucks out myths with seeming carelessness and blends them into the impulse behind the start of her journey away from a life growing too rote This one convinced me to keep going Knight of the Well feels closest to her usual full length novel fare, with its wry human relationships contrasting with the way the otherworldly impinges upon court celebrations.And Naming Day was surprisingly cute not an adjective I usually associate with McKillip A student of magic finds herself with an unexpected task.Personally, I didn t find it as appealing as other examples of McKillip s writing, but that may be because I adore those other works so much. I inaugurated my new tablet with a library download of this anthology before I buy my traditional hardcopy version.Patricia McKillip is one of the few writers whose works I will buy off the shelf, no questions asked While good old J.R.R Tolkien might have instigated my fantasy reading at age 10, McKillip set it in stone half a decade later The Forgotten Beasts of Eld was the first paperback I ordered and paid for by myself The Riddlemaster trilogy made me begin thinking about writing The Changeling Sea is still one of the most perfect short YA novels I ve ever read, though to shelve it under YA takes away from the magic a little.Her wordplay is never less than extraordinary Her plots are not splashy action movies, but measured dances spiked with moments of sheer terror Through everything runs a strain of affectionate humanism I see in Terry Pratchett, as well She understands people She is kind, but not a pushover.After winding down with her epilogue, I realized all over again that McKillip may actually be a better writer in short stories than in her novels The stories here are just as dreamlike, sometimes just as disorienting, but honed to an uncompromising edge because of their brevity A thief cannot run from destiny, nor can an angel turn away from ancient madness True love melts like an iceberg under sunlight, or weathers an intricate semi Victorian comedy of manners Protagonists face themselves and reshape their worlds Not all is happily ever after, nor should it be McKillip, like most great fantasists, offers neither a veil nor a substitute for reality, but a well crafted mirror. An anthology of sixteen short stories about fey, magic, and fairytales with an introduction by Charles de Lindt and an essay on what inspires McKillip.My TakeThis was a mixed bag of huh what and wonderful Sadly, McKillip says she has come to the end of this type of fey story If she is, then she s gone out with a whisper and not a bang.The Stories Wonders of the Invisible World is time traveling science fiction with a researcher wanting Cotton Mather s emotions It s a quick blip into two worlds the future and the close of the Salem witch trials I certainly do understand why Nici feels as she does at the end, even if it is rather vague Out of the Woods is an atmospheric old timey story that parallels our own age of materialism with a wife working outside the home while having to still do the cooking and cleaning while her husband is out working and drinking A very unsatisfying story that never concluded Kelpie was amazing Okay, yeah, I m prejudiced There was a Pre Raphaelite feel to the artists and their lifestyles I m probably being influenced by the cover art I love the world into which McKillip took us, spending time creating a world of working and playing artists The set up with the wicked, self centered Bram Wilding and his attacks on Emma s thoughts Ned Bonham s protective stance as he tries to give her room Followed by the denouement at Ned s country house Definitely one of my favorites in this collection Hunter s Moon left me hanging with the innuendo at the end And hoping that McKillip will follow up on the Hunters It s really Dawn s adventure with her little brother along for the ride with their father and Uncle Ridley They re out hunting deer while Dawn is with a Hunter One who is not what he seems Very vague Oak Hill is another odd one I don t really see the point of this one it s a simple blip between running away and finding strength, possibly a hint of self esteem for a woman who believes it when told she s ugly It s almost a metropolitan Wild Hunt crossed by entrepreneurial hippies as Maris searches for a teacher of magic The Fortune Teller is almost karmic as the thieving Merle encounters an unwelcome revelation Another vague tale that I enjoyed for how McKillip got into the adaptable mind of a pickpocket and her casual approach to ownership Jack O Lantern is another pip, although vague again Using an arranged marriage and the need for a portrait of the wedding party be sure to read mother s explanation of how sex works with their oysters and pearls and water of life, McKillip gives a personal twist to the Will o the wisp Knight of the Well is one of my favorites in this anthology McKillip creates an entire world in this short with its own culture and worries while fiddling in a sweet, unrequited romance Very nice twist Naming Day was good The selfishness of teens who are too important for their own good At least she learned her lesson quickly Byndley is one of the lovely ones with a mage feeling the heavy weight of remorse who is trying to make up for his past behavior Nice twist at the end Twelve Dancing Princesses is a twist on one of Grimm s fairytales Undine was a lovely twist on the usual in which a water fey kidnaps a human and takes him home with her Something just always seems to come up Xmas Cruise is irritatingly vague about a loving husband who gifts his wife with a cruise around Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego with a concentration on Gaia, and they end up swapping with another couple I think A Gift to Be Simple is an odd look at a religious sect that is dying out and the lengths to which they will go to ensure their group continues on into the future The Old Woman and the Storm is a whole lotta metaphor of a lover who no longer recognizes his love Interesting, yet vague The Doorkeeper of Khaat is one of those huh whats There s a lot of vague prose about Kel and his drifting throughout the land, being a poet only to be called home when his father is dying with one last request A wish that will open a doorway in the world of the Khaati.The CoverThe cover is similar to others in her fey stories, but not as rich in detail Not to say that this one isn t intricately populated with its human mermaidthe undine, perhaps surrounded by thorny trees, buzzing giant insects, and a barren landscape with a castle in the background It s rather like the stories in this anthology Some richness and some vapidity.The title comes from the first short story in which Cotton Mather wants so desperately to see the Wonders of the Invisible World, envious of the children who have been granted such visions. Augh, why am I rating authors I like so poorly This is the second in a row Patricia McKillip is my favorite author Hands down, absolutely Her novels are amazing But I don t think I like her short stories I remember not enjoying Harrowing the Dragon, either.The problem is resolution Many of these focus on the world building, the lyrical prose, the words You get an interesting situation, a hint of a world, a complex dilemma and then an alarming number of them just end, abruptly, without any resolution Wonders of the Invisible World, Out of the Woods, Hunter s Moon, The Fortune Teller, and Xmas Cruise were probably the most frustrating They end abruptly Nothing changes They feel like the first halves of stories that were never finished Kelpie had a wonderful Bohemian setting, but I didn t like it very much, either It abandoned several seemingly important plot threads when it came to its kind of mixed and strange ending view spoiler It goes to some pains to make you think this is about the other artists having to deal with Bram Wilding s garden full of dangerous and possibly mythical creatures, then shifts gears, changes scenes, and has nothing else to do with whatever Bram had in his house People were getting hurt It was strange and uncomfortable And then everyone just goes to a new location, the MC gets kidnapped by a Kelpie, and Bram s just as disbelieving as the rest of them So I guess he didn t have anything special in his house at all hide spoiler Mini Review Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia A McKillipWonders of the Invisible World is a collection of short stories by one of my favorite authors As in her full length novels, Patricia McKillip s language is exquisite She uses a poetic and ethereal tone that left me and enchanted with every page I turned Wonders of the Invisible World is a bit different from Patricia McKillip s usual style Many of the tales in this collection explore darker themes than her novels, which is one of the reasons that I enjoyed it so much McKillip branches out from fairy tale fantasy and added some science fiction to the mix Wonders of the Invisible World was one of the best books that I read in 2012, and I still hope to reread it and write about each of the stories in depth.This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures.http bookswithoutanypictures.com 20