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Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip

Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip
Book Name: Kingfisher
Author: Patricia A. McKillip
Publisher(s): Ace
Formatt: Hardcover / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: February 2, 2016

This is the first McKillip book I’ve ever read and proves to be very different from my usual fantasy selections. I want to say it is like a cross between historic fantasy and magical realism. A bit paradoxical perhaps?

Set in modern times, we have a wyvern-descended king, Arden Wyvernbourne, who is sending his knights out on a quest to retrieve an ancient and powerful artifact. These knights ride motorcycles and use cell phones. Others have their mother look out for them in the form of the nearest convenient animal, mythical or otherwise. There are gods whose ardent servants shapeshift and weave enchantments. All of this stemming from a royal family whose queen, Genevra, has an affair with the king’s most trusted knight, Leith, and a magus, Merle, who sees through enchantments and has been working to gather the necessary forces to overcome a curse. Sound familiar?

Loosely based on King Arthur’s legend, we see the story unfold through the eyes of Pierce Oliver, the son of a sorceress, who left her knight husband after his love for the queen proves to be undying. She leaves her older son behind and raises Pierce alone, unbeknownst to both father and son. When Pierce decides to finally leave home against his mother’s wishes, he learns of his legendary father and a surprise older brother. All three get caught up in the king’s quest and end up right where it all started–Chimera Bay, incidentally, Pierce’s hometown.

Carrie is the only daughter of the magus, Merle. Her father is aloof, eccentric, and holds secrets older than the present Age. Her questions about why the Kingfisher Inn, the place where she works as a cook, has such peculiar rituals and a history no one cares to speak of goes unanswered by all she asks. In her attempt to find answers, she secretly enters into part-time employment with the Inn’s biggest rival, whose owner is as stunningly attractive as the food he creates with his cooking machines. Only he has been willing to reveal hints of the Inn’s mysteries. With an inattentive father, Carrie has no choice but to take matters into her own hands until she, too, discovers a heritage ripe with magic.

There is a whirlwind of characters to keep track of. Gods and goddesses whose reaches are showing to be farther than believed possible. An enchanted prince discovers his heritage to be more ancient and formidable than he realizes and is dragged unwittingly into its vengeful plot.

McKillip’s tale is spun very loosely. There is no deep character development, no detailed expositions. Descriptions of places and food are aplenty, though. The worldbuilding is rather ethereal. Even though it appears to be set in modern times, magic is accepted pretty indifferently. Dragons and basilisks appearing in the middle of the road are simply dealt with.

I found myself amused in the beginning, a bit disappointed in the middle (I wanted to see more of a certain main character who was only mentioned briefly during a good portion of the book), and then simply resigned by the end. If you’re looking for a light, abstract read, give Kingfisher a go. The legend that is King Arthur’s court forms the backdrop for the story and is easily weaved into McKillip’s inspired re-imagining.

ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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