Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillip
This is a compilation of short stories, which was a refreshing pace to read for me. I could easily pick it up in the middle of my hectic day, read a quick fantasy, and get back to work after I had finished the story. The stories are the quintessential escape for the lunch hour. Warning side effect of these stories: I did find myself daydreaming for most of the day after reading just small pieces. These are the types of fantasies that open you to the fae and just don't let go immediately. I felt like I had become part of the wind and words, floating around waiting to be reality.
No two stories focused on the same characters or places, or time for that matter, but there were some common themes that could tie all the stories together. Pure fantasy and fae mysticism. We meet witches, gorgons, sea deities, and mermaids. Humans and imagination blend until you aren't sure which are there in front of you. The words are lyrics that just sweep you away in the siren's song. Overall, most of the stories seem to have some pull to the sea. I have not read that many sea-faring fantasies in my day, but these ones would be sure to compete with the best.
My favorite of the collection was "Gorgon in the Cupboard." I already want to go back and re-read that story. McKillip's writing just swept me away into such a vivid world of words come to life. I was so unaware that the ending had even happened, though on reflection it made perfect sense. Many of the others had that seem ethereal hold over me, but others just never seemed to capture me. I will easily give this collection 4 stars. The novella being my least enjoyed story keeps it from getting all the stars; since it was the longest story in the collection, I was hoping for the most interaction there. I will still be recommending this to any and all people with imagination.