Plot Summary: As the newly appointed Chalice, Mirasol is the most important member of the Master’s Circle. It is her duty to bind the Circle, the land and its people together with their new Master. But the new Master of Willowlands is a Priest of Fire, only drawn back into the human world by the sudden death of his brother. No one knows if it is even possible for him to live amongst his people. Mirasol wants the Master to have his chance, but her only training is as a beekeeper. How can she help settle their demesne during these troubled times and bind it to a Priest of Fire, the touch of whose hand can burn human flesh to the bone?
I’ve been a fan of Robin McKinley for years, since I picked up a copy of BEAUTY – a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I also enjoyed THE BLUE SWORD and THE HERO AND THE CROWN. I didn't enjoy CHALICE nearly as much as I enjoyed these other titles.
Narrative fiction. There’s a place for it, and it can work really well. If done right. Unfortunately, Chalice wasn’t. The characters are not well-described, the world is not explained or shown to us in a way we could imagine, and the conclusion felt clunky, like an afterthought.
But the main thing it was lacking? Voice. There are plenty of narrative fiction works out there that work really well. And they work because the author brings out an amazing Voice in the writing. We *hear* the main character speaking, feel what s/he is going through, and sympathize as a result. I couldn’t hear the main character in CHALICE, Mirasol, hardly at all. It really felt like an outsider *telling* her story, rather than the character herself showing it to me.
I think the author didn’t delve deep enough. What is so special about Mirasol? What does the author have to offer that makes this story intriguing and unique? None of that is there, and yet she’s an established author. So why isn’t it there? I actually think that the author knows everything about this story, the setting, and the characters. I think that if I asked her any kind of question, she’d have a good answer. But, somehow, those details didn’t make it onto the page. Perhaps the deadline was too aggressive. Perhaps more editing was needed. But this book felt like a first draft to me, like the main character had just finished telling the author her story.
I wasn’t originally going to write a review of this book, but since I’ve been talking so much about Voice lately, and since this book has such a lack of it, I decided it was fitting. : )