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Something Rich and Strange [Paperback]

Patricia McKillip
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1 2005 Ibooks Fantasy Classics
They have lived among us for centuries—distant, separate, just out of sight. They fill our myths, our legends, and the stories we tell our children in the dark of night. They come from the air, from water, from earth, and from fire. What are these creatures that enjoin out imagination? Faeries. Something Rich and Strange creates a faerie story that's not to be missed: Megan is an artist who draws seascapes. Jonah owns a shop devoted to treasures from the deep. Their lives, so strongly touched by the ocean, become forever intertwined when enchanting people of the sea lure them further into the underwater world—and away from each other.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The second novel in Brian Froud's Faerielands series lives up to its subtitle (taken from The Tempest). Megan, a dreamy young artist, resides in a Pacific Northwest coastal village with her pragmatic lover, Jonah, who runs a curio shop. When Megan's drawings of the ocean and its tidal pools begin to take on a life of their own, acquiring such elements as a sea hare that she does not remember executing, she seeks to understand the meaning of these changes. As if in response, Adam Fin, a mysterious artist whose medium is jewelry, arrives in the community. Meagan is drawn to Fin, but Jonah mistrusts him and, for his part, begins to obsess about another mystery, that of a woman singer he hears in a local pub and later encounters as a mermaid in a sea cave. Though warned by a local eccentric, Megan and Jonah pursue their obsessions, with their distinct ties to the sea, until Jonah is lured away and Megan must pay a price to find him. McKillip (The Cygnet and the Firebird) weaves a potent tale, which was inspired by the somewhat frenzied drawings provided by award-winning fantasy illustrator Froud.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The second in the Brian Froud's Faerielands series again follows artist Froud's intentions of using his artwork to evoke, not merely inspire, tales of Faerie and again finds him hedging his bets by getting an outstanding fantasy writer to do the prose in reaction to his pictures rather than doing it himself. Succeeding Charles de Lint in The Wild Wood , McKillip tells the tale of a couple--she an artist, he an art-store owner--in a seaside community in the Pacific Northwest and the pair's Faerie visitors, a strange artist and a stranger singer. The book is extremely well done, powerfully evocative of the mystery of the sea; its pacing is, however, definitely on the slow side. Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful... Aug. 3 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
"Full fathom five thy father lies, Of his bones are coral made, Those are pearls that were his eyes; Nothing of him that doth fade But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange."
Lovers Jonah and Megan--he the owner of an art store somewhere on the Pacific Northwest coast, she an artist who sketches the sea--find themselves changing into things "rich and strange" when a pair of elusive and fascinating strangers enter their lives. The strangeness begins with little things--images appear of their own accord in Megan's drawings, an enigmatic sculptor named Adam Fin begins to frequent the store--but when a mysterious singer claimed as Adam's sister lures Jonah into her own realm, it changes from a mystery of the everyday world to a mystery of the Otherworld. To find Jonah, Megan will have to first discover and then see past the legends in which Adam and his powerful sister have clothed themselves, and Jonah must learn to look past his fascination with the siren song to see what provokes such terrible beauty, grief, and rage.
The story of "Something Rich and Strange" unfolds like a dream, all the while ringing very true to life. Patricia McKillip's writing is rich in texture and imagery: vivid, precise, and often surreal; she is equally adept at describing the luminous beauty of an undersea kingdom as well as Megan and Jonah's banter over dinner. The images she sculpts have a true ring of otherworldly beauty to them; Adam and his sister speak in human words, but they are not human, and while humans spin stories around their powerful realm, that is not human either. McKillip never lets the reader forget that; her mysterious sea is never ours to claim, only ours to remember and preserve.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
There is rarely a solid message in Patricia McKillip's books--"Something Rich and Strange" is an exception, a very mild enviromentalist message about the sea shining through a beautiful, Tam-Lin-like story.
Jonah and Megan are lovers living together in the Pacific Northwest, an artist and a art storekeeper, in a little seaside town where nothing much happens. That is, until the day Adam Fin comes there, with his beautiful pieces of otherworldly jewelry and a mysterious past. Megan finds herself fascinated by Adam, while Jonah finds him strange. Megan is haunted by the sea, by strange and sometimes alarming characters lurking around, and by the image of the sea hare.
But Jonah succumbs to a different kind of siren song, when a beautiful singer at a local bar lures him in with her voice. Soon he has left Megan, the world that he knows, and indeed a good portion of his common sense to follow the beautiful woman down into the waves. Megan agrees to venture down herself, along with the enigmatic Adam, to find her beloved and try to bring him back. In the process, she and Jonah both must discover the dangerous, angry, grieving beauty of the sea and what they must do for it...
This book is shorter than most of McKillip's books and longer than her short stories, yet full-fleshed and believable, the simplicity of the story masked by the ornate language she employs so well. Repeated use of seaweed, pearls, bright fish, shells, mer-creatures, and exotic sea-creatures in unusual roles add a note of dreaminess to the proceedings--not that they need it. Except for a few key Jonah-Megan scenes, the entire book has the feel of a beautiful, prolonged dream.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Something Rich and Strange offers the reader the oftenly needed crash of reality. By not losing the mystery and enchantment of the ocean, McKillip shows how humanity's blind ignorance is killing the magic found beneath the tide. Even when the powers below cry out for help they must disquise it with a Siren's Song and not frantic plea for survival. The book has a pace equal to the waves crashing on the shore, be it during a hurricane or a spring shower, that is left up for the reader to decide.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something "Strange" Nov. 12 2005
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There is rarely a solid message in Patricia McKillip's books -- whatever message there is is usually fluid and hard to read. "Something Rich and Strange" is an exception to that rule, with a very mild message about the sea shining through a beautiful twist on the Tam Lin story.

Jonah and Megan live in the Pacific Northwest, in a little seaside town where nothing much happens. That is, until the day Adam Fin comes there, with his beautiful pieces of otherworldly jewelry and a mysterious past. Megan finds herself fascinated by Adam. She's haunted by the sea, by strange and sometimes alarming characters lurking around, and by the image of the sea hare.

But Jonah succumbs to a different kind of siren song, when a beautiful singer at a local bar lures him in with her voice. Soon he has left Megan, the world that he knows (and most of his brain cells) to follow the beautiful woman down into the waves. Megan goes down herself, to find her beloved and try to bring him back. In the process, she and Jonah both must discover the dangerous, angry, grieving beauty of the sea and what they must do for it.

The novella is shorter than most of McKillip's books and longer than her short stories, yet full-fleshed and believable, the simplicity of the story masked by the ornate language she employs so well. Reading this book is like immersing yourself in an ornate, opulent aquarium.

Repeated use of seaweed, pearls, bright fish, shells, mer-creatures, and exotic sea-creatures in unusual roles add a note of dreaminess to the proceedings -- not that they need it. Except for a few key Jonah-Megan scenes, the entire book has the feel of a beautiful, prolonged dream, wrapped up in detailed writing and strong imagery.

Also unlike most of McKillip's books, this is a contemporary novel, as evidenced by the first page where Megan finds an Orange Crush can and a styrofoam float. Yet this never interferes with the flow of the book, which deals with imagery as timeless as the sea itself. Don't expect the Big Message to beat you over the head with its theme -- McKillip weaves it in softly and subtlely, though it is hinted in where Megan walks along the beach and sees the junk strewn around. The message about pollution becomes clearest at the end, but during subsequent rereadings one can see the clues lined up, but never overemphasized.

Adam himself is everything he's supposed to be--sexy, ambiguous, in form as well as in mind, for we see him shift from everything from a man to a splash of shapeshifting sea-foam. His sister is not as defined--we know she is dangerous, beautiful, seductive, etc--but perhaps that is deliberate, as we see little of her but constant hints as Jonah pursues her.

One of McKillip's less known novels is also among her best. "Something Rich and Strange" proves to be a magical, beautiful journey into an enchanted sea realm. You'll never see a picture of a mermaid the same way again.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful... Aug. 3 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Full fathom five thy father lies, Of his bones are coral made, Those are pearls that were his eyes; Nothing of him that doth fade But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange."
Lovers Jonah and Megan--he the owner of an art store somewhere on the Pacific Northwest coast, she an artist who sketches the sea--find themselves changing into things "rich and strange" when a pair of elusive and fascinating strangers enter their lives. The strangeness begins with little things--images appear of their own accord in Megan's drawings, an enigmatic sculptor named Adam Fin begins to frequent the store--but when a mysterious singer claimed as Adam's sister lures Jonah into her own realm, it changes from a mystery of the everyday world to a mystery of the Otherworld. To find Jonah, Megan will have to first discover and then see past the legends in which Adam and his powerful sister have clothed themselves, and Jonah must learn to look past his fascination with the siren song to see what provokes such terrible beauty, grief, and rage.
The story of "Something Rich and Strange" unfolds like a dream, all the while ringing very true to life. Patricia McKillip's writing is rich in texture and imagery: vivid, precise, and often surreal; she is equally adept at describing the luminous beauty of an undersea kingdom as well as Megan and Jonah's banter over dinner. The images she sculpts have a true ring of otherworldly beauty to them; Adam and his sister speak in human words, but they are not human, and while humans spin stories around their powerful realm, that is not human either. McKillip never lets the reader forget that; her mysterious sea is never ours to claim, only ours to remember and preserve.
Read "Something Rich and Strange" three times: once for the story, once for the jeweled prose, once for its message. And then read it a fourth time, for no reason except that the story deserves it. It will still be good: the changeable sea is eternal.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A place of beauty Nov. 10 2004
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
There is rarely a solid message in Patricia McKillip's books -- whatever message there is is usually fluid and hard to read. "Something Rich and Strange" is an exception, with a very mild message about the sea shining through a beautiful twist on the Tam Lin story.

Jonah and Megan are lovers living together in the Pacific Northwest, an artist and a art storekeeper, in a little seaside town where nothing much happens. That is, until the day Adam Fin comes there, with his beautiful pieces of otherworldly jewelry and a mysterious past. Megan finds herself fascinated by Adam, while Jonah finds him strange. Megan is haunted by the sea, by strange and sometimes alarming characters lurking around, and by the image of the sea hare.

But Jonah succumbs to a different kind of siren song, when a beautiful singer at a local bar lures him in with her voice. Soon he has left Megan, the world that he knows, and most of his brain cells to follow the beautiful woman down into the waves. Megan agrees to venture down herself, along with the enigmatic Adam, to find her beloved and try to bring him back. In the process, she and Jonah both must discover the dangerous, angry, grieving beauty of the sea and what they must do for it.

The novella is shorter than most of McKillip's books and longer than her short stories, yet full-fleshed and believable, the simplicity of the story masked by the ornate language she employs so well. Repeated use of seaweed, pearls, bright fish, shells, mer-creatures, and exotic sea-creatures in unusual roles add a note of dreaminess to the proceedings--not that they need it. Except for a few key Jonah-Megan scenes, the entire book has the feel of a beautiful, prolonged dream.

Also unlike most of McKillip's books, this is a contemporary novel, as evidenced by the first page where Megan finds an Orange Crush can and a styrofoam float. Yet this never interferes with the flow of the book, which deals with imagery as timeless as the sea itself. Don't expect the Big Message to beat you over the head with its theme -- McKillip weaves it in softly and subtlely, though it is hinted in where Megan walks along the beach and sees the junk strewn around. The message about pollution becomes clearest at the end, but during subsequent rereadings one can see the clues lined up, but never overemphasized.

The characters are well-drawn: Megan, the rather misty young woman who only really seems to wake up when she heads down into the dreamy world of the sea. Jonah is aptly named, a rather bedazzled young man gets sucked (ironically, by his own will rather than against it) down into the depths. "Welcome to the belly of the whale" indeed. Adam himself is everything he's supposed to be--sexy, ambiguous, in form as well as in mind, for we see him shift from everything from a man to a splash of shapeshifting sea-foam. His sister is not as defined--we know she is dangerous, beautiful, seductive, etc--but perhaps that is deliberate, as we see little of her but constant hints as Jonah pursues her.

One of McKillip's less known novels is also among her best. "Something Rich and Strange" proves to be a magical, beautiful journey into an enchanted sea realm. You'll never see a picture of a mermaid the same way again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful imagery but... May 28 2011
By B. Figuray - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The other posted reviews describe the essence of the book very well, so I won't be exhaustive there. The imagery in the book is beautiful and the accompanying artwork from Froud always lends its magic. The book had a dream-like feel to it throughout most of it. At times it felt quite abstract, but it lent itself to the whole vibe of the book.

The one thing that I felt that took away from the book (and why I did not give it 5 stars) was the conclusion. I don't want to give away the ending but the culmination of the book seemed too abrupt in its "message." The entire book had a flow to it, a dreamlike essence, something magical. And then BAM, you get to the "message you are supposed to learn and take away from the book."

I'm not opposed to the message. I find it quite necessary, actually. It just seemed a little sloppy how it transitioned. There was a bit of a build up to it and looking back you can see where it was going. However, it went from magical to semi-preachy very quickly. It's "moral of the story" message was way too transparent. There was no magic to the message.

Other than that it was a great, quick read and definitely recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Patricia McKillip can do no wrong May 9 2014
By DeAnn Rossetti - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Patricia McKillips books are so beautifully written, they make most writers weep with envy.
This book is by turns darkly beautiful, creepy and fascinating.
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