About 15 minutes ago, I finished reading Chalice by Robin McKinley. I am now seriously in love with Robin McKinley and the characters of Mirasol and Liapnir, and I am grateful to Leila at Bookshelves of Doom, who blogged about this book and her desire for honey with bread, and how it made her heart fit to bust. Not that I disagree with her: I am craving honey cake, and will settle for honey in my tea. And I'd really like a cloak of bees, or to just, y'know, pet some. And I have a strong hankering to find some fabric with bees on it to use in my decor. Seriously. Maybe gold fabric, to echo the cover of the book. That is a seriously gorgeous cover, is it not?
As anyone who has read this book and is being honest will tell you, this is a quiet book, and it will not be everybody's cup of tea. It requires a bit of work to sort out, not just at the start but much of the way through. Some of that is because our main character, Mirasol, is also busy sorting things out, and some of it is because of the fairy-tale way it is written, and some of it is because that is how the author willed it, I believe. It is not the sort of book for someone who wants action, now, no - not fast enough - NOW! But if you can be quiet, and if you have a bit of patience - only a bit, you don't need a truckload - this book is magic.
Chalice had me wondering about the natures and identities of characters throughout. The story opened itself bit by bit to pull me in with its offerings of sweetness and pain, and by the end I nearly took my husband's head off when he dared to walk in and try to speak to me with a page and half to go, because I'd been pulled that far into the book that his reminder that there was an outside world was decidedly unwelcome and unpleasant, and besides, the tension that had been twisted up so tight leading up to the ending hadn't been all the way released yet, and I really, really wanted, no, needed, to savour that last honeyed dollop and finish the story in full.
And when I finished, I took a deep breath. And I petted my cat (who makes an excellent reading companion because she is small and quiet and warm). And I burst into tears, because a heart can't be that full without making room somehow, and evidently, squeezing moisture out of the eyeballs made just enough space to accommodate it.