Patricia A. McKillip, Brian Froud (illustrator)
Completed 11/25/2021, Reviewed 11/25/2021
This was a beautiful book, both story and art. Froud made fifty drawings and gave them to several authors to create a story inspired by the art. This is McKillip’s result. It explores the interaction of humans with the realm of Faeries under the sea. This book is definitely a mood piece. Lots of description of surroundings, especially underwater, and lots of emotions or lack thereof. It’s a short book, maybe just a little longer than a novella, so it works. If it was another hundred pages, I think I would have been longing for more action. This book won the Mythopoeic Award for 1995.
Megan and Jonah live in a seaside town, perhaps on the Oregon coast. Megan is an artist; Jonah owns a tourist shop. One day, a strange man named Adam comes into the shop to see if Jonah will sell his art pieces. Jonah doesn’t want to deal with him, so Megan does. She becomes strangely entranced by him. That night, Jonah goes to a bar that has music and a strange woman appears with the band and sings one song, entrancing Jonah. He becomes obsessed with finding her. Adam keeps appearing to Megan. These sightings and obsessions lead them back to the sea and tries to tear the couple apart.
The prose is really the star of this book. It gives us great characterization as well as world building. Both Megan and Jonah are somewhat complacent in their relationship, particularly Jonah. He just downright doesn’t like people. Megan is consumed by her art, sketches of the sea and its life, and Jonah is her critic. The sea is basically another character in the book, personified by Adam and the singer. The singer eventually draws Jonah into its depths and Adam helps Megan find him.
The world building is awesome as well. McKillip goes into great detail as Jonah and Megan wander around the sea. It’s beautiful and terrifying. I can see why this book won the Mythopoeic, mixing the world of Faerie with the prose of the sea. It’s a nice change-up of the usual faeire tropes, but still sticks to its basic premises.
The artwork in this book is really wild: beautiful, frightening, and weird. If you don’t know who Brian Froud is, he’s the artistic genius behind “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth”. He’s also well known for his book “Faeries”, which came out several decades ago. The books written by the different artists based on his artwork are collectively known as “Brian Froud’s Faerielands”. The other authors who contributed are Charles de Lint, Terri Windling, and Midori Snyder. These other books are now on my TBR list 😊
I give this book four out of five stars. It’s so beautifully written; it’s breathtaking. It’s my first McKillip book. I think I have three more in my Mythopoeic and World Fantasy Awards challenge. I really look forward to those as well. In fact, I have one of her other books now and will be reading it shortly. I think this book is out of print. I had to get it from a library a few counties over. If you can get your hands on it, I think most people will really enjoy it.