Thursday, May 12, 2016

Kingfisher, by Patricia A. McKillip (author), Bernadette Dunne (narrator)

Audible Studios, March 2016

In a world where modern technology exists alongside magic, the magical beasts are not yet quite extinct, and King Arden reigns in the capital city of Severluna, Pierce Oliver has grown up the son of a sorceress who has retired from court to raise her son on a rather bleak cape, where she runs a restaurant. When she finally tells her son the truth about his father, a knight at King Arden's court, she sets off a chain of events that will have major repercussions.

Pierce sets out for Severluna, driving his car because that's the kind of fantasy this is. He's not quite there when he finds himself in Chimera Bay, at the Kingfisher Inn--or at least the restaurant that operates in the remains of the Kingfisher Inn. One of the men there is also a wolf; a young woman who cooks there is strange in her own ways--and is about to make a big mistake. And while there, Pierce witnesses a strange ritual involving a large knife, which he then feels compelled to steal.

Meanwhile, in Severluna, Prince Damien, the king's youngest child and bastard son, has been enchanted by a young woman who wants him to visit her home village, which is apparently nowhere on the map. King Arden is about to order his knights on a quest to find an ancient, magical cauldron.

Two different gods, or rather a god and a goddess, regard that cauldron as rightfully theirs.

Princess Perdita, the king's legitimate daughter born at nearly the same time as Prince Damien, is greatly worried by her brother's strange distraction, and starts following him around. Or is she following someone set to deliberately misdirect her?

The sorceress wants her son back. The goddess wants her cauldron back. Some at least of the king's knights want to make the god supreme over all other gods.

The knife Pierce stole has its own agenda. So does the cauldron.

This is as beautiful as McKillip's short fantasy novels typically are, beautifully written, gentle, surprising, and intricate. I love the characters, and even the villains are well-done. Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from Audible in exchange for an honest review.