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This is my fourth book for the Once Upon a Time V challenge. After reading several excellent blog reviews about Patricia McKillip’s “Winter Rose,” I came across this at a used book sale. It is one of McKillip’s earlier books, and the edition I picked up came complete with 1970s cover art.
Although “The Forgotten Beasts of Eld” is a fantasy novel, it reads a bit more like a long fairy tale. Sybel is a young wizard who lives in the mountains and tames mythical beasts. Yes, she’s a female wizard, not a witch. She lives a life of solitude that is interrupted when Corren shows up with a kid, asking her to raise it and keep it safe. This leads her to far greater adventures that take her away from her mountain home.
When I first started college, I was socially awkward. No, socially awkward is an understatement. However, Sybel at the start of the novel makes my old self look quite outgoing by comparison. To me, the novel was about an outsider learning how to fit into the world and learning how to deal with human emotion. Sybel has to learn the hard way how to love, how to hate, and how to face her own inner demons.
I like how McKillip managed to take the idea of learning how to love and how to feel and describing it without being overly preachy or moralistic. She does it in a way that feels very natural and flows with the story. When I finished, my thought was “Awww…. how cute!”