Patricia McKillip

I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of one of the best fantasy authors who ever lived.

Here’s a post at

Here’s a post at Locus

These posts are totally inadequate.

Here’s my attempt to rank all her novels, a most challenging task as so many are virtually perfect. This post is also an inadequate tribute, but it’s better than one of these brief obituaries.

Patricia McKillip was absolutely central to forming my own taste in fantasy novels and my own ideas of what a perfect novel looked like, or maybe I should say, felt like. She wrote poetry disguised as prose better than any other fantasy author has ever done. It feels to me that some of the poetry in the world just disappeared when she passed away.

My debut novel, The City in the Lake, was my attempt to write a novel just like hers. I read everything McKillip had ever written, one book after another, until I’d read them all. Then I sat down and wrote City. Every time someone compared City to McKillip’s work — and I’m happy to say this has happened more than once — it made me so happy. I’m not sure I ever captured that fairy-tale feel quite so well again.

I met her at a convention once, but found it impossible to express to her what her writing had meant to me.

“You can weave your life so long — only so long, and then a thing in the world out of your control will tug at one vital thread and leave you patternless and subdued.”

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld

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4 thoughts on “Patricia McKillip”

  1. H. Nieuwenhuijzen

    I’m so sorry to hear that.
    She has long been one of my favorite authors of all time.

    And City did indeed remind me strongly of her style of writing.

  2. Sad news. Such a wonderful author.

    This quote, from the article via an interview with Locus, is emblematic of her work, to me.

    “Maybe people look at these characters as symbols of something they want to be or to have. It’s also a way of looking at real people. If you look at a person that way, they become more powerful because you don’t know them; all you can see of that person is something that you want to be or to possess. Maybe that’s partly where faerie comes from.”

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