This marvelous collection of short stories is the creation of two different halves of the same mind. Both pseudonyms, Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm weave fantastic tales in their distinct individual voices that enrapture the reader with relatable main characters whose transformations are sometimes subtle yet significant and others drastic but necessary for the protagonist’s survival.
The stories of Megan Lindholm are set mostly in the present day, in places we can picture without stretching our imaginations too far with characters who only at first appear to be living ordinary lives. They are all somehow touched by magic, as in “Silver Lady” and the “Fortyish Man,” or by alien beings, as in “Touch of Lavender.” Her crisp, clear style cuts through a lot of b.s. to hit us right where we live. She is a master of full description with few words. Thus, her stories seem to fly by. We are fully immersed in her worlds and emotionally invested in her characters, but ever so briefly.
Robin Hobb’s sprawling adventures, “Homecoming,” “The Inheritance,” and “Cat’s Meat,” take us on fantastic journeys to other times and foreign places with long, lush descriptions that never drag. Her pace is much slower but no less effective. Her characters are all vivid, as in the Lindholm stories, and make us feel something for them, whether we’re cheering on a female protagonist as she takes on the man who’s done her wrong or wanting to strangle the man ourselves. Hobb’s writing is equally effective at ensnaring the imagination while capturing the heart.
I finished this book too quickly, almost against my will. I wanted to stay with each of the characters in the worlds created by both Megan Lindholm and Robin Hobb. The two authors, by very different approaches, intersect at the heart and make the kind of intimate connection with the reader that makes reading a satisfying and moving experience. The common theme of men knocking women down physically and psychologically and women moving through their changes from compliance to resilience and, ultimately, to triumph is one that begins a slow-moving snowball effect from the first story through to the last.
These are two authors whose work I will seek out, as I found their writing to be both endearing and relatable. Luckily, both have several stories and books to keep me busy reading through the summer and well into winter. For more information about Robin Hobb, go to robinhobb.com and to read more by Megan Lindholm, go to meganlindholm.com