Phoenixfalls's Reviews > Ombria in Shadow

Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip
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Mar 10, 10

it was amazing
bookshelves: patricia-mckillip, fantasy, fairy-tale, cities, fantasy-challenge, high-fantasy, female-author
Read in March, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: 1

All of McKillip's novels are beautiful. Her exquisite prose and her ability to capture the sense of magic (both light and dark) that imbues traditional fairy tales ensures that any novel she writes will tantalize and delight. Her style is deliciously archaic, even baroque, and she has a habit of giving the reader the bare minimum of information to make the plot and motivations of her characters understandable, tingeing every action with the spice of mystery. This has worked not very well in some novels -- I found the climax of In the Forests of Serre near-incomprehensible -- but even when the mystery isn't working her novels are delightful confections designed to be savored.

Ombria in Shadow is McKillip at her best -- a dark chocolate truffle, rich and beguiling. The city of Ombria, with its decaying streets, and its shadows that bleed into the underworld of its past, and its hints that there is yet another shadow city that may overlay Ombria itself, is the most breathtakingly beautiful McKillip creation I have encountered since I read Alphabet of Thorn (my first McKillip, though published two years later -- clearly McKillip was on a hot streak). The cast of characters is just as good, each one three-dimensional and bowed (but not broken) by heartbreak. And the central mystery, of how the city will cope with the loss of its prince in an already uncertain time, is always enticingly just out of reach until the climax, when strand after strand of the plot comes together in a breathless resolution that answers a host of questions and raises a dozen more, but which is still entirely satisfying on a visceral level. The denouement is quietly wonderful, granting the happy ending that seemed hopeless in a most unexpectedly melancholic way.

All in all, I don't think I could have loved this book any more.
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