A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories

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But then the doubts set inwhat is it that draws Coral to Butter Hill? These stories were just OK. To me they felt very YA. Very little suspense or action. The emphasis was on the fairy tale style. I've already forgotten the first stories I read in the book.

The last It was interesting reading reviews of this and comparing my reactions. It was an important reminder that readers can have completely opposing views, and that I should be careful about letting negative She graduated from Bowdoin College in and her first novel, Beauty, was published in A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories. View all 4 comments.

I've always loved fairytale retellings, and I really like what McKinley does with fairytales, whether she's making them up or bending them to suit her own stories. This little collection is no different: I'm told the stories are set in the world of some of her novels, Damar, but to be honest I rather preferred them to the Damar novels. I couldn't say why, but They're all rather quiet stories, mostly people living in a world with magic where it's really best if that magic doesn't touch them, an I've always loved fairytale retellings, and I really like what McKinley does with fairytales, whether she's making them up or bending them to suit her own stories.

They're all rather quiet stories, mostly people living in a world with magic where it's really best if that magic doesn't touch them, and when it does, they have to live with it. The first story reminded me of Ursula Le Guin's writing, too, which is always gonna be a good thing. That and the fourth were my favourites, I think. I see the word 'quiet' a lot with reviews of this short story collection, and certainly that is an accurate word.

The plots of these stories are often muted, the characters quietly rebelling against expectations. In "Healer," the protagonist Lily is literally quiet in that she is born mute and has never uttered a word. Yet she rebels against expectations by becoming a successful healer in her village.

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When she meets a former mage, both are changed. In "The Stagman," the princess Ruen's voice and I see the word 'quiet' a lot with reviews of this short story collection, and certainly that is an accurate word. In "The Stagman," the princess Ruen's voice and freedom is quieted by her uncle when her parents die, and then her choice is taken away by a mage she thought would help her.

But again there is a quiet rebellion that occurs, though only after many decades of acquiescence. When a father steals an herb from a witch's garden to save one of his daughters, he promises to give his pregnant wife's child to the witch to raise. But unlike Rapunzel, the witch is not cruel, and she raises her child, Eranu, like she would her own, along with her son a half-troll.

Both the troll and Eranu are quieted by the way society treats them--the troll as a monster, Eranu as a poor woman incapable of choice. When a farmer marries a younger woman, at first they live a happy, productive life together, until the secrets they're hiding from one another threaten their relationship.

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This story illustrates the power and need of speech in relationships, of not letting the unspoken things come between love. In "A Knot in the Grain," the final story, year-old Annabelle is forced to move to a new town and home, leaving behind her friends and boyfriend.

She's silenced in that she's too young to make decisions in the family, but she's also silenced by her shyness and her unwillingness to make others unhappy. But she finds agency in an unexpected place when she discovers a secret room in her new home.

This may be my favorite of the stories. The title "A Knot in the Grain" speaks for all the stories--the grain is smooth until the knot appears--a choice made, a quiet rebellion. A short book of wonderfully smart fantasy short stories.

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Now must reread everything! While each of the stories was kinda neat in its own way, only 1 of the 5 felt like a complete story. The other four were all vague, snippets of story, without a proper ending. They all left me feeling like I wanted to know more, I wanted more completeness out of them. I think i am I have never read anything by Robin Mckinley before but i have heard a lot of praise, so i had high hopes of liking this collection of short stories.

But i didn't. The short stories are not exactly bad, but they are not remember able either. They didn't leave a lasting impression. Other than that, i wasn't impressed. But i do plan to read The Blue Sword sometime. View 1 comment. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

Reading Robin McKinley's blog, as I do, has given me a rather acute sensitivity to her prose style. In the case of this book, this is acutally rather an asset, as it renders the prose nearly transparent, letting me appreciate the stories more than I think I did when I first read them fifteen years ago.

I do still get a little irritated with Luthe's tendency to show up and solve everyone's problems--it might not be so conspicuous if it didn't occur in two successive stories--but the entire book i Reading Robin McKinley's blog, as I do, has given me a rather acute sensitivity to her prose style. I do still get a little irritated with Luthe's tendency to show up and solve everyone's problems--it might not be so conspicuous if it didn't occur in two successive stories--but the entire book is redeemed for me by the wonderful ending of the final story.

To have a teen girl, uprooted by a move, discover and use a powerful and deeply mysterious magic to save her new town from development, and then set that magic firmly aside so that she might live a normal life And how utterly delightful. I love it.

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The characters are of course the main attraction here for me--the middle aged farmer and his lovely young wife in "Buttercups", the mute healer Lily in the first story, and of course Annabelle in "A Knot in the Grain. Even a McKinley story that I don't adore, however, is a good use of my time. Pretty good writing and clean, too. These were earlier stories that have hints of Beauty, Sunshine, Chalice, and others, all whispering between the lines of these stories.

My favorite was Buttercups, because of the theme of turning bad into good. Good YA, good fantasy, good short stories, good McKinley. Robin McKinley has always been a favorite of mine Deerskin is a book I reread every few years , so when I saw this on sale, I leapt at the opportunity, and I was not disappointed. Every single story I found myself getting hopelessly sucked into. If you enjoy her books you'll enjoy this little collection!

All of McKinley's stories are good, and this is a nice collection of them. Apr 20, Chanel Sharp rated it really liked it Shelves: , fairy-tale , historical , middle-school , romance , paranormal , clean-romance , fantasy , ya. All the stories were delightful. One story told about a girl who could not speak and the man who could hear her. The next about a girl who did not wish to rule, but did so because she had to. The middle story about a girl who had to find her future by leaving it. The fourth about a woman and a man being honest to each other, and lastly a girl who saved a town.

Over all mom and I loved these tales. I actually liked all the stories. They were well written and interesting. I'm trying to pick a favorite but I just can't.

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The Stagman ending wasn't my fav yet it was still good. I really loved this book! Each story was intriguing and pulled me in.

A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories by McKinley, Robin

This book reminded me of why I love reading. Feb 29, K. Within are included five tales. The first tale: Healer tells the story of Lily, a child born with the magic to heal, but without the gift of speech.


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Lily, kind and loving, is apprenticed to Jolin to learn the ways of healers.