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            Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits
            Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson

            Fantasy
            Reviewed by: Carrie Byrd
            Review posted: 2/27/04

            In the interest of full-disclosure, let me just go ahead and confess that Robin McKinley is pretty much my favorite author ever. So, for the record, I may be a wee little bit biased in her favor.

            That said, this book kind of sucked. Water is a collection of six short stories written by husband and wife team Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson. It is also distinctly disappointing.

            McKinley, as always, turned in some stellar tales of magic and myth, and even managed a little fan service via a short story about Damaria, the subject of her Newbery award winning book The Hero and the Crown and it’s immensely popular companion volume, The Blue Sword. Her contributions to Water made the most of her light, lyrical prose, and McKinley clearly indulged herself, as well as her fans, in the creation these tales.

            On the other hand, Dickinson’s stories were painful in comparison. Overly long in most cases, overly involved in every case, I found myself giving up and skipping to the end of the story, just to get it over with. His writing seems almost unbearably self-aware. Dickinson seems determined to turn simple fantasy stories into dense – and frankly – dull, “literary fiction”. Also in the interest of full-disclosure – the concept of a genre actually titled literary fiction makes me want to peel my own skin off. These are stories weighed down unnecessarily, and the glimpses of beauty in the writing made me wonder what Dickinson would be capable of if he got over himself.

            This was like reading two different books, and I suggest you only read the book by McKinley and skip over Dickinson entirely.