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Publisher's Summary

Stories from the world of The Hero and the Crown and other magical places by a New York Times-best-selling Newbery Medal winner. 

Robin McKinley returns to the mythical setting of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword in this “thrilling, satisfying, and thought-provoking collection” featuring two stories set in the world of Damar, plus three other fantasy tales featuring adventurous, pragmatic, and heroic young women (Publishers Weekly). 

There’s mute Lily, in “The Healer”, who has the power to help others, and receives a startling opportunity to find her voice when a mysterious mage stumbles into town. And Queen Ruen, who is at the mercy of a power-hungry uncle until she encounters a shape-changer in “The Stagman”, In “Touk’s House”, a maiden who has grown up with a witch and a troll, has a chance to become a princess, but she must decide whether she would really live happily ever after. When a curse follows Coral to her new husband’s farm in “Buttercups”, the pair has a choice: Succumb to defeat, or find a way to turn a disastrous enchantment into a fruitful new venture.

Finally, travel to upstate New York with Annabelle. In the title story, her family moves shortly after her 16th birthday, and just as she starts to adjust to her new life in a small town, a plan to build a superhighway threatens her new home. But a strange box hidden in a secret attic in the new house may be the answer. This is a delightful assortment of tales from an author with “a remarkable talent for melding the real and the magical into a single, believable whole” (Booklist).

©2014 Robin McKinley (P)2021 Recorded Books Inc.

What listeners say about A Knot in the Grain

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Listen while you putter

A good listen for those hours puttering in the flower garden. Lily's speech problem normally would take months with a speech pathologist; mages know no such constraint. The ending felt satisfying, even for the older cast members. In “Touk’s House” I appreciated the lack of both anger (for mischief in the herbs) and a cycle of retaliation (for the witch's retribution). Better to just accept things. And thanks to the pure-hearted maiden, even an ugly cast member can find happiness. In “Buttercups”, we learn that flowers may not be what they seem; nor is Coral [note: just as coral is not a sea flower]. She is no gold digger, and again, the older cast member is truly blessed. And finally, as the garden theme continues (think vegetables), the young lady is truly lucky to have escaped her shallow-rooted friends, finding better things in her new garden and attic. What's knot to like in this story? Well, vapid teens. At least she escapes the old aspersions against "escapist" fantasy. Hopefully her emotions and intellect will eventually bloom as well.

2 people found this helpful