I’ve always liked this cover.

This hardcover edition from 1979 collects Patricia Mckillip’s wonderful, lyrical, and beautiful RiddleMaster series. Mckillip is the first stylist that I, as a young reader, identified as a stylist while reading fantasy. I know that sounds at least slightly silly as everyone has their own writing style but there are authors that just seem to have that extra layer, almost like a beat, to their prose.

Other such writers that immediately come to mind are Catherynne Valente, Rikki Ducornet, and China Mieville.

It wasn’t just about the story being told, it was the how, and like music can, Mckillip just adds emotional weight augmenting by our own standard consumption of the plot and text. This remains one of my favorite fantasy stories and I was introduced to it via this collected edition featuring cover art by Jack Woolhiser. I loved it so much I had spent some time looking for the original art to the ccover to hang in one of my homes but to no avail.

riddle of stars

I’ve interviewed dozens of authors and one of the handful that I regret never being able to get to is McKillip, if only to tell her how much this series meant to me.

Aside, I’ve always thought it would have been a great choice for a Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli adaptation. It just possesses that mix of YA ambiance with deep emotional resonance that I attribute to Studio Ghibli films, and the studio has successfully adapted many western books into anime and outright cinema classics.