Thumbs up for To Weave a Web of Magic: Four Stories of Fantasy and Exquisite Romance by Claire Delacroix, Lynn Kurland, Patricia McKillip, and Sharon Shinn. Fantasy.
I was attending my best friend’s wedding and had to decide on a book to take for the weekend. Initially I fancied re-reading The Moon Is Down, but then realized you really couldn’t get less romantic than the Nazi invasion of Norway. I thought about re-reading the first Sandman, then remembered some of the stuff that happened in it and vetoed that too. From my shelf I grabbed something that looked vaguely romantic and kept my fingers crossed. I’m glad now that I read the stories out of order as I did – Kurland, Shinn, Delacroix, McKillip – because the Kurland is the weakest by far; it reads like the effort of a talented debut writer rather than a seasoned professional. The Shinn story, which is the reason I had this collection to start with, is as solidly built and lyrical as her stories always are. The Delacroix was exquisitely heartbreaking in the best of all ways. It vies with, but does not quite best, McKillip’s story, which also has an edge of pain to it, of a more subtle kind than Delacroix’s, which makes it as disturbing as real life: as great fiction should be. So I’d say, if you want uplifting feel-good business, this is not the anthology for you, despite the cover. If you want good stories, read the Shinn and the Delacroix. If you want a great one, read the McKillip.
“But I never am [myself], when he paints me. I am always the woman he has in mind. I think that’s why he doesn’t like to talk to me. He only wants to know the woman in his head. The dream he has of me. If I told him too much about” – she swallowed, continued steadily – “about Alf, about the streets, the mill, about my mother’s hands all cracked from taking in laundry, about the purple shawl, the dream would be gone. All he’d have left is me.”
— from “The Gorgon in the Cupboard” by Patricia McKillip.
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