In a style as dreamlike as the world she attempts to describe, Ms. McKinley gives description to the indescribable and the ineffable. Her world of the fae is one of sudden disappearances rather than brutal killings but it is no less fearful for all that.
In one story, there are disappearances, in a world of men that borders on faery. There is no reason given for the kidnapping of little boys or adolescent girls. The children vanish, that’s all. There is no reason people should stay; but somehow they don’t leave. Life is by and large lovelier than it is elsewhere in the world. But the price to be paid is the loss of children and life has reached a point where people simply accept it, as they would yearly floods or hurricanes.
Ms. McKinley makes her sunlit worlds places of ordinary wonder and muted threat, with spaces where humans may stumble onto a quiet glade and realize that there is magic about, even if they don’t know where or can fathom its traces. It’s also impressive the way she can outline silences, secrets that people hide and lies that they commit without speech. Sometimes pages go by in which nothing happens and yet the prose is pregnant with meaning.
She remains a gifted writer of fantasy, one that this reader turns to again and again, simply because she makes it all so fresh, vibrant and new.