Patricia A. McKillip’s THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD is the perfect quarantine read!

Cover by Thomas Canty

In THE WASHINGTON POST article “‘The Princess Bride’ and other fantastical novels to help you escape reality,” Lavie Tidhar recommends THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD by Patricia McKillip.

More recently, I read McKillip’s strange, enchanting stand-alone fantasy THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD for the first time, as it has been reissued. It follows Sybel, a woman with strange powers who collects fabulous beasts, whose power draws the attention of forces battling each other out in the world. Sybel must use her talent — but will she win, or lose, herself? The novel won the World Fantasy Award and the writing is simply beautiful.

Episode 65 of DRAGON BABIES podcast is all about the classic novel.

We’ve found the perfect quarantine reread! A lyrical, masterful meditation on solitude, power and the glory of big cats and magical boars, THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD by Patricia A. McKillip is a delight. Grace and Madeleine discuss the appeal of going it alone in your crystal wizard dome vs. the more realistic outcome of heading to Sirle to get married. Whether you’re in total isolation or holed up with your foster son, riddle master boar and insatiable yearning for the Liralen, we think you’ll enjoy this one.

Sarah Waites at TOR.COM includes the book among Got Series Fatigue? Try These 10 Standalone Fantasy Novels!

Sadly, I had never read this fantasy classic until last year. THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD tells the tale of Sybel, an isolated wizard who lives alone with her menagerie of powerful and magical creatures. Then Sybel finds herself raising the secret son of a king, and her quiet life collides with the world of powerful men. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld explores themes of forgiveness, revenge, love, and power. It’s also exquisitely written and has the feel of an original fairy tale, with all the emotional strength of the very best fables and legends.

In a 5/5 review, A. Siegel, on their eponymous site, feels much the same.

McKillip has written a deep and real character that is Sybel, a complicated woman who learns about herself, even in the midst of the worst experiences a woman could have. She writes a mythology that I want to delve deeper into, and I hope that it exists further in her other novels. The writing is slow and contemplative, and, while the lack of action may deter some readers, I found the story to be wonderfully meditative and atmospheric.