Patricia A. McKillip’s THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD is steeped in poetry and atmosphere

Cover by Thomas Canty

BLACK FOREST BASILISKS praises Patricia A. McKillip’s THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD as part of Top Ten Tuesday: Books Written Before I Was Born.

THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD is a stunningly mythic original fairytale. It is steeped in poetry and atmosphere. It’s the sort of book that makes you think that perhaps you’ve simply forgotten a story. The Black Cat Moriah, Gild the Dragon… they’ve never existed before these pages, but they feel as though they’ve been around forever.

In REDDIT r/Fantasy, Cassandra_Sanguine delivers an Author Appreciation of McKillip.

But what if I told you that THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD was only the third book she ever published and her first novel (the first two being children’s books) and she has written more than 30 novels since then? If you loved THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD imagine how much you’ll love her more recent work where she has had three decades to get better at prose, and story telling. The Forgotten Beast of Eld is good but her newer works really show that she still had room to grow as an author.

The German site SKALPELL UND KATZENKLAUE offers their own view of the World Fantasy Award-winning author.

At about the same time, Patricia McKillip’s second novel, THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD , was published by Atheneum Books . She hadn’t written it as a book for young people, but the publisher brought it out as one. However, he found his audience mainly elsewhere. Because what no one expected: The book was enthusiastically received by the SFF community. When the World Fantasy Award was presented for the very first time a year later , The Forgotten received Beasts of Eldthe award for “Best Novel”. McKillip had no connection to the scene at this point and was accordingly surprised when the Lovecraft bust arrived at her place.


McKillip’s breakthrough on the fantasy market had thus succeeded. Next, a YA novel by her ( The Nightgift ) appeared again, but she could now concentrate on the final realization of a project that she had been working on for a good ten years: an epic fantasy story, the first volume of which In 1976 Atheneum published under the title The Riddle-Master of Hed – the beginning of the trilogy that was first published in 1981 in the classic black Goldmann Fantasy series as Erdzauber .

I think it’s significant that Patricia McKillip wasn’t part of the SFF fandom herself when she wrote Earth Magic . She did not read any of the current magazines or anthologies, had no contact with the scene (if she was even aware of its existence) and was accordingly unfamiliar with the prevailing fashions and currents. Even of the Ballatine Adult Fantasy series, she had read only a few books. It was no coincidence that she began her career at Atheneum, a publisher that had no major genre connections and whose fantastic section consisted mainly of children’s and youth literature. (Which, however, also included Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore in 1970 and ’72 .) McKillip was, in a way, a career changer. And that can have its advantages.

Translation from German, courtesy of Google