How many times must Patricia McKillip blow my mind with her books? And who decides when a certain kind of storystelling is out of date or not? Because, let me tell you, whoever thinks that McKillip’s “voice” is old-fashioned and cannot keep up with modern readers, is terribly wrong!
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a book filled with the classic storytelling of the woman I consider the mother of fantasy. Sybel, a young girl gifted with the magical powers to call powerful beasts to come to her aid, finds her life turned upside down when a young soldier comes knocking on her door, asking her to take care of a baby – the son of a king. Uknowingly, she gets dragged in the middle of a war between kingdoms, and men fighting for her heart – but the woman with the garden full of legendary creatures, is not a woman with a heart easily won…
I seriously loved this story. Even if Sybel was tough to connect with as a main character, her past was such that it explained a lot about her behavior. Not only that, but what Tam’s father did to her was, in my eyes, a great allegory for rape – the total lack of control of her body and willpower, the feeling of being stuck in a place where she would never be able to return from, truly amazing how McKillip phrased it all – and it was only natural for her to turn even colder and seek revenge in a way that would make kingdoms tremble. I loved how she struggled with coming to terms with her feelings for Tam’s uncle, and how, in the end, she didn’t change her flawed way of thinking, only promised to try and ask for forgiveness – stating, even, that she needed her husband’s forgiveness mainly because this way, she might one day forgive herself.
McKillip is a queen when it comes to subtly charging plot twists. She just writes along, telling you a nice story that sounds so wonderfully like a fairy tale – thanks to her voice – and then BAM! The plot twist comes up, shaking you to the core, and you’re just faced with the fact that she had it coming your way all along, she just made you focus on other things more to bide her time.
I’m in love with her writing, no matter which book I read, and I can’t wait to read more of her work!
***I was given an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***