I’m back to loving Robin McKinley unconditionally again. I’d been a little leery after her last book Dragonhaven, but Chalice has won me over again.
The book has definitely overtones of Beauty and the Beast, but isn’t a strict retelling. Mirasol is the new Chalice to the Willowlands, the second most powerful person in the demesne. Unfortunately, the old Master and Chalice died in a terrible accident, and Mirasol is thrust into the job untrained, with no mentor to guide her. In addition, the Master’s only heir is his brother, who was sent off to the Fire Priests seven years ago. Never before has a man gone that long come back from the fire, and it’s immediately obvious as soon as the new Master returns that he’s no longer quite human.
The story follows a fairly predictable path given its inspiration, but Mirasol is a lovely different kind of character. A woodswoman, she begins as a total outsider to the great House of Willowlands, and even her gift, which comes to her through honey, is evidence of this difference.
I still like Beauty and Sunshine best, but this was definitely an enjoyable book, and I’m happy to add it to my McKinley collection.