Review: Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia A. McKillip

June 19, 2013 5 stars, Book Review 4 ★★★★★

Pabkins’ One Liner: Exquisitely written with destinations beyond your imagining!


Stylistically rooted in fairy tale and mythology, imperceptible landscapes are explored in these opulent stories from a beloved fantasy icon. There are princesses dancing with dead suitors, a knight in love with an official of exotic lineage, and fortune’s fool stealing into the present instead of the future. In one mesmerizing tale, a time-traveling angel is forbidden to intervene in Cotton Mather’s religious ravings, while another narrative finds a wizard seduced in his youth by the Faerie Queen and returning the treasure that is rightfully hers. Bewitching, bittersweet, and deeply intoxicating, this collection draws elements from the fables of history and re-creates them in startlingly magical ways.


Patricia A. McKillip is a master of the written word! Wonders of the Invisible World is my first foray into her delightful imagination and it will not be the last! I am a lover of short stories. In my mind it takes as much skill if not more to write a successfully engaging short story then to write a novel. This is because the short has so few words within it to paint pictures and make you fall in love with it’s world and characters. Tell me you don’t think that takes a lot of talent!

The stories in this anthology filled me with a sort of quiet happiness that stayed with me long after I finished reading. Normally I enjoy anthologies slowly, reading one story at a time between reading a regular length novel. But I could not put Wonders of the Invisible World down!  For any lover of all things magical and mystical you simply must pick up this anthology!

Wonders of the Invisible World
In a future where anything you can imagine is possible, researchers travel into the past to learn about human history. One researcher goes masquerading as an angel that appears to someone during the Witch Hunts. When she comes back she is risked with futile for not trying to stop the atrocities.

Out of the Woods
A young woman agrees to work for a local scholar who is studying to be a mage. She starts to realize she is unhappy with her life and is mostly invisible to her husband and employer. As she works all day and late into the nights, she sees magical things again and again but no one listens to her. It’s a rather slow moving and somber tale but one I believe is full of hidden messages for the reader.

The Kelpie
I admit I was almost completely thru this short (It’s one of the longer ones in this anthology) and u was beginning to wonder when the heck the kelpie would come into it. I was delighted in how it was worked in. This was a wonderful story of life, overcoming obstacles and being true to yourself and of course love. Mostly though it’s the life oh a young female artist, meeting her love and how she is trying to get recognition for female art work and the awful man she has to put up with to accomplish that.

Hunter’s Moon
Dawn is lost in the forest with her younger brother when a quiet stranger leads them back to their uncle’s hunting cabin. The next day while the men are all out hunting Dawn and the young man take a lovely walk thru the Woods. I found this enchanting and was sad it ended when it did.

Oak Hill
Maris is a runaway, trying to find Bordertown so that she can learn magic. She doesn’t know how to get there but is determined she will. When she finally does she must convince someone to teach her magic. An interesting story but I didn’t feel as string of a connection with Maris as I would have liked, perhaps because we didn’t get her backstory at all.

The Fortune Teller
Some people think they can make their way in life by taking things from others. Stealing things here and there, with theft second nature and thinking it their due, Merle is one such person. Her philosophy is why not take for free anything that is put in her path? I loved how dirty of a street urchin she is! But one day she takes the livelihood odd another and an old lover makes her see just how much less he thinks of her. Definitely one of my favorites in this anthology! Even more so for how the story ends.

Jack O’Lantern
Jenny is growing up as is her eldest sister who is soon to be married. She is inquisitive and knows that she is expected to be something and someone that really isn’t who she is at heart. When she has a chance to snatch away a few moments top enjoy the remnants of her childhood she rushes headlong into them and experiences a taste of magic. Jenny is a character I instantly bonded with and I think any female might. I simply loved her.

Knight of the Well
Fascinating world building where the people revere water and the creatures that live there. The upcoming yearly water ceremony and dedication of a new fountain is being plagued by trouble by creatures of the water realm. A particularly surly Knight of the Well, is tasked to find out why. This is the longest story in the book at around 60 pages. It was so rich in detail and I loved the idea of this world ask much that I would love to see this as a full length book.

Naming Day
A school where you learn magic! Averil is one of the top ranked students, but she seems full of herself and a bit selfish. Her mother is on the fritz, so stressed out from raising her 4yo brother and not getting help from her husband or Averil. But all Averil is concerned about is her upcoming Naming Day and a certain boy from school. This is more definitely one of my favorites in this anthology. We see Averil undergo such amazing character growth and I love her mother!

A worn wizard, traveling in search of a way back into Faerie. Tired from the weight he carries, something previous he stole from the Queen when he was a young man. He stood in a town and shares his tale. And what a tale this is! Each story I’m amazed again at McKillip’s skill with the written word. She weaves you right into her worlds and leaves you asking for more of their magic.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses
Do you know the story of the 12 Dancing Princesses? Each night their father, the King locks them into their bed chamber and tasked a young man with discovering why each morning their shoes are worn out due m from dancing each night. I have always loved this story and McKillip did a wonderful job of telling it!

I wonder if McKillip has a fascination with water faeries, she certainly does then well. Undine is a lovely creature gone on search if her first mortal husband. Who she meets and what brings of her she never could have expected. I adored the twist thrown at her! So ironic and just.

Xmas Cruise
I’m jealous of this couple that is on the cruise. I’ve always wanted to take an Arctic Cruise. This one sounded absolutely lovely, however I think the plot points were a bit lacking…our perhaps they were just lost on me.

A Gift to be Simple
They are growing old and all of the children this religious group of do gooders has raised have left them years ago. Slowly one Sister realizes that they are getting so old and that they may die and no one will be left to believe in their religion. So she comes up with an ingenious plan. I didn’t like this one much at first because of how saturated it was by their religion but it grew on me and I liked the direction it went.

The Old Woman and the Storm
A man wakes and goes for a walk through the woods. He sees many beautiful things along the way, until he is caught in a storm. I have to admit I didn’t know where this one was going until the end.

The Doorkeeper of Khaat
A poet living the life of a struggling artist, not because he has to but because he wants to. He once lived a woman who leaves him to return to the land of her heritage, a dangerous war torn country but one filled with mysteries. I don’t know exactly how to describe what the core of this story is about but it is beautiful. The man trades the dying wish, literally, for his own possible death.


Wonders of the Invisible World

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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4 Responses to “Review: Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia A. McKillip”

  1. Gayatri

    I love anthologies because of the fact that the writer is able to tell a story within a few pages. No dragging, and deep unwanted details. Plus its a great way to find new authors to read !
    I haven’t heard of this book before but I sure do plan to read this book as soon as I get my hands on it!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I agree it is an awesome way to find new authors. In this case all the stories are written by Patricia but they are so amazing! There wasn’t a single one that I didn’t like!

  2. Patricia @ Lady with Books

    I adore the covers to all of McKillip’s books. They are gorgeous. My favorite is The Tower at Stony Wood. It’s so detailed and lovely that you could almost reach out and touch it.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I’m looking forward to collecting more – currently the only other I own is The Riddle Master – I think that’s what it’s called. This is the first McKillip book I’ve read and I am SO in love with her now. This was amazing – now one of my favorite anthologies!