Robin McKinley has spent decades riveting readers with fairy tale retellings and boundary-pushing, innovative fantasy. Her fiction is loved by readers of all ages, and has been recognized with a Newbery Medal and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.
The Robin McKinley books below are some of her best, and helped secure her position as a titan of fantasy.
A Knot in the Grain
This collection of short fiction is a riveting anthology of musings from an author with “a remarkable talent for melding the real and the magical into a single, believable whole” (Booklist).
In the volume's titular story, 16-year-old Annabelle is adjusting to a recent move. When construction threatens her new home, she discovers a strange box hidden in her attic that may reveal the answer.
Other tales in this set include “The Healer,” which features a girl's journey to self-empowerment and finding her voice after a mysterious mage's arrival. Further, there's “Touk’s House,” which tells of a witch-raised maiden on a journey to becoming a princess.
And, in "Buttercups", when a curse plagues Coral's husband's farm, the couple make the most of the magical havoc.
Lissla Lissar is the only child of the king and queen. Lissla grew up lonely and neglected, listening to stories about her notorious parents.
When the queen succumbs to a sudden and mysterious illness, her husband makes the deathbed promise that he will only marry someone as beautiful as she was.
The king is ruined by grief, and struggles to retain his wit and strength. Two years later, he announces his impending remarriage—to his daughter, Lissla.
After a merchant loses his fleet during a catastrophic storm, he moves with his daughters to a remote village. Soon, he has a terrifying encounter with a human-like beast who lives in a nearby decadent castle.
The Beast takes the merchant hostage for trespassing, conceding that he will spare his life if one of his daughters is given as tribute.
When the merchant's daughter, Beauty, hears of this offer, she resolves to save her father—and to tame the Beast.
20 years after the publication of Beauty, Robin McKinley again enthralled readers with a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Rose Daughter reimagines the fairy tale in a totally unexpected way, with a fresh take, innovative plot, and revolutionary insight.
"It is the heart of this place, and it is dying," says the Beast. The center of his home, a beautiful glass greenhouse that Beauty loves, is overrun with dying rosebushes. However, new life is set to reinvigorate this mysterious enchanted world.
The lake has been deserted since the Voodoo Wars. That's good news for Rae—aka Sunshine—who just wants a quiet few hours to relax by herself.
Sunshine knows to be careful of the Others. But when she drives out to her family's lake cabin to relish the silence and moonlight, she still doesn't expect the vampires.
The Door in the Hedge
“The Stolen Princess," the first tale in this anthology, details the collision between princess Linadel and the faerie Donathor.
In “The Princess and the Frog,” Rana develops an unlikely bond with a small, green, frog from a pond in the palace gardens. “The Hunting of the Hind” features a princess searching for a cure for her brother's disease.
The final tale is an enthralling reimagining of the classic story Twelve Dancing Princesses.
The Hero and the Crown
Aerin, the daughter of a foreign witch, is a misfit in her father’s court.
She deals with her loneliness by befriending her father’s retired warhorse, and crafting an unreliable recipe for dragon-fire-proof-balm.
After secretly training Talat and experimenting with the ointment recipe, Aerin slips away when the king is informed of a marauding dragon.
Though she fears the dragon's strength, Aerin is determined to prove herself.
The Outlaws of Sherwood
Robin Longbow is as a subapprentice forester in the King's Forest of Nottingham, and is faced with the disdain of the bullying Chief Forester. Still, Robin wishes to stay in Nottingham and maintain the role left behind by his late father, especially as he has fallen for the beautiful Marian.
Then Robin goes to the Nottingham Fair—and an ambush and an archery contest lead to disaster.
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