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Jennifer Carolyn Robin McKinley, popularly known as Robin McKinley, is an American award-winning author of young adult fantasy and children's books.

Born in Warren, Ohio, she was raised all over the world, including in California, New York, Japan, and Maine, due to the fact that her father served in the US Navy.

An alumna of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where she graduated summa cum laude, McKinley worked as a research assistant and later in a bookstore before making her breakthrough as an author with the book Beauty: A Re-telling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast (1978).

The recipient of several awards, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown (1984) and a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword (1982), McKinley currently lives in the United Kingdom with her husband–English writer Peter Dickinson.

More about Robin McKinley

Genres: Children's Book, Fantasy / SF, Young Adult

Born: 1952

United States

Non Series

  • The Outlaws of Sherwood (1988)
  • Rowan (1992)
  • Deerskin (1993)
  • The Stone Fey (1988)
  • Sunshine (2003)
  • Dragonhaven (2007)
  • Chalice (2008)
  • Shadows (2013)

Anthologies

  1. Imaginary Lands (Edited by Robin McKinley) (1985)

Collections

  1. A Knot in the Grain And Other Stories (1994)
  2. Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits (2002)
  3. Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits (2009)
  4. The Door in the Hedge: and Other Stories (2014)

Damar

  1. The Blue Sword (1982)
  2. The Hero and the Crown (1984)

Folktales

  1. Beauty: A Re-telling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast (1978)
  2. Rose Daughter (1997)
  3. Spindle's End (2000)

Pegasus

  1. Pegasus (2010)
Pegasus

Detailed book overview

Non Series

The Outlaws of Sherwood

Robin Longbow is a sub-apprentice forester in Sherwood Forest, barely eking out a living-and barely able to control his temper when he is confronted by the taunts of the Chief Forester's favorite. One careless shot, and he has killed the man. 

From then on, Robin is on the run-but he is not alone. Joined first by his friends Much and Marian, then by more and more people who despise the Norman lords who tax them blind, Robin builds a community of Saxon outlaws deep in Sherwood who risk the gallows and the sword for the sake of justice and freedom.

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 1988
ISBN: 978-0698119598
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Rowan

A child and her new puppy work through the difficult initial adjustments and soon belong to each other.

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 1992
ISBN: 978-0688106836
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Deerskin

Princess Lissla Lissar is the only child of the king and his queen, who was the most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms. Everyone loved the splendid king and his matchless queen so much that no one had any attention to spare for the princess, who grew up in seclusion, listening to the tales her nursemaid told about her magnificent parents.

But the queen takes ill of a mysterious wasting disease and on her deathbed extracts a strange promise from her husband: “I want you to promise me...you will only marry someone as beautiful as I was.”

The king is crazy with grief at her loss, and slow to regain both his wits and his strength. But on Lissar’s seventeenth birthday, two years after the queen’s death, there is a grand ball, and everyone present looks at the princess in astonishment and whispers to their neighbors, How like her mother she is!

On the day after the ball, the king announces that he is to marry again—and that his bride is the princess Lissla Lissar, his own daughter.

Lissar, physically broken, half mad, and terrified, flees her father’s lust with her one loyal friend, her sighthound, Ash. It is the beginning of winter as they journey into the mountains—and on the night when it begins to snow, they find a tiny, deserted cabin with the makings of a fire ready-laid in the hearth.

Thus begins Lissar’s long, profound, and demanding journey away from treachery and pain and horror, to trust and love and healing.

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 1993
ISBN: 978-0441012398
Publisher: Ace
The Stone Fey

Maddy has been roaming the hills of Damar with her sheep since she was a girl. The Hills hold everything she desires: her family; her beloved dog, Aerlich - and soon, her fiancé, Donal, who has been away for a year. But one evening a lamb is lost. And when Maddy returns to the Hills to find it, she discovers something else the Hills possess - something that will change her forever...

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 1988
ISBN: 978-0152000172
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Sunshine

There hadn't been any trouble out at the lake in years. Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts for a minute. But then the vampires found her...

Now, chained and imprisoned in a once-beautiful decaying mansion, alone but for the vampire, Constantine, shackled next to her, Sunshine realizes that she must call on her own hidden strength if she is to survive. But Constantine is not what she expected of a vampire, and soon Sunshine discovers that it is he who needs her, more than either of them know.

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 2003
ISBN: 978-0142411100
Publisher: Speak
Dragonhaven

Jake lives at the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park. There are five million acres of the Smokehill wilderness, and the endangered dragons rarely show themselves. Jake's never seen one except at a distance. But then, on his first overnight solo in the park, he meets a dragon - and she is dying. More than that, she has just given birth, and one of the babies is still alive...

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 2007
ISBN: 978-0142414941
Publisher: Firebird
Chalice

Mirasol is a beekeeper, a honey-gatherer, with an ability to speak to the "earthlines"—the sentient parts of Willowlands, where she lives. The concerns of Master, Chalice, and Circle, who govern Willowlands, have nothing to do with her-until the current Master and Chalice die in a fire and leave no heirs to take their places. 

The Master's closest relative has been a priest of Fire for the past seven years; he is not quite human anymore. And then the Circle comes to Marisol and tells her that she is the new Chalice, and it will be up to her to bind the land and its people with a Master, the touch of whose hand can burn human flesh to the bone...

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 2008
ISBN: 978-0142417201
Publisher: Firebird
Shadows

Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.

Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know...until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.

In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 2013
ISBN: 978-0147512208
Publisher: Speak

Anthologies

Imaginary Lands (Edited by Robin McKinley)

This fantasy anthology, boasting some of the best writers in the genre today, will be a disappointment to all but the most easily pleased. Each story is linked by its firm placement in its imaginary setting, which is supposed to evoke in readers both wonder and familiarity. Unfortunately, these stories evoke only tedium and confusion, the major exception being McKinley's own entry, ''The Stone Fey,'' a beautifully written love story set in Damar. 

While stories from James Blaylock, Patricia McKillip, Robert Westall and P. C. Hodgell are merely slight, the biggest disappointments are the stories from Peter Dickenson, whose ''Flight'' is more of a writer's notebook than a story; Jane Yolen, with a slim retelling of the forging of Excalibur; and Joan D. Vinge's brief version of the Tam Lin legend. Given the lack of quality from ''name'' writers, it's too bad McKinley didn't anthologize her own work.

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 1985
ISBN: 978-0708882238
Publisher: Futura Books

Collections

A Knot in the Grain And Other Stories

Lily. A woman with power to heal, but no powers of speech. Then she meets a mage---a man who can hear the words she forms only in her mind. Will he help her find her voice?

Ruen. A princess whose uncle leaves her deep in a cave to die at the hands of a stagman. But when she meets the stagman at last, Ruen discovers fate has a few surprises in store for her.

Erana, As a baby, she is taken be a witch in return for the healing herbs her father stole from the witch's garden. Raised alongside the witch's troll son, Erana learns that love comes in many forms.

Coral. A beautiful young newcomer who catches the eye of an older widowed farmer. He can't believe his good fortune when Coral consents to be his wife. But then the doubts set in---what is it that draws Coral to Butter Hill?

Annabelle. When her family moves, the summer before her junior year of High School, Annabelle spends all her time in the attic of their new house--until she finds the knot in the gain which leads her on a magical mission.

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 1994
ISBN: 978-0064406048
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits

What magical beings inhabit earth's waters? Some are as almost-familiar as the mer-people; some as strange as the thing glimpsed only as a golden eye in a pool at the edge of Damar's Great Desert Kalarsham, where the mad god Geljdreth rules; or as majestic as the unknowable, immense Kraken, dark beyond the darkness of the deepest ocean, who will one day rise and rule the world. 

NB: Co-authored with Peter Dickinson.

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 2002
ISBN: 978-0142402443
Publisher: Firebird
Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits

This collection tells five tales of creatures who live and die by fire, tales of the present day and the prehistoric past. There is a confrontation in a haunted graveyard, of the Firespace where only dragons can survive, of a boy who is claimed by Fire, of a young man who chases the fireworm through dark tunnels of dream, and the long history of the Phoenix. With characters and storylines as enigmatic as fire itself, these five enthralling tales by master storytellers Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson are sure to intrigue and delight.

NB: Co-authored with Peter Dickinson.

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 2009
ISBN: 978-0142419458
Publisher: Firebird
The Door in the Hedge: and Other Stories

The last mortal kingdom before the unmeasured sweep of Faerieland begins has at best held an uneasy truce with its unpredictable neighbor. There is nothing to show a boundary, at least on the mortal side of it; and if any ordinary human creature ever saw a faerie—or at any rate recognized one—it was never mentioned; but the existence of the boundary and of faeries beyond it is never in doubt either.

So begins “The Stolen Princess,” the first story of this collection, about the meeting between the human princess Linadel and the faerie prince Donathor. “The Princess and the Frog” concerns Rana and her unexpected alliance with a small, green, flipper-footed denizen of a pond in the palace gardens. “The Hunting of the Hind” tells of a princess who has bewitched her beloved brother, hoping to beg some magic of cure, for her brother is dying, and the last tale is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses in which an old soldier discovers, with a little help from a lavender-eyed witch, the surprising truth about where the princesses dance their shoes to tatters every night.

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 2014
ISBN: 978-0698119604
Publisher: Firebird

Damar

The Blue Sword

Harry Crewe is an orphan girl who comes to live in Damar, the desert country shared by the Homelanders and the secretive, magical Free Hillfolk. When Corlath, the Hillfolk King, sees her for the first time, he is shaken—for he can tell that she is something more than she appears to be. He will soon realize what Harry has never guessed: She is to become Harimad-sol, King’s Rider, and carry the Blue Sword, Gonturan, which no woman has wielded since the legendary Lady Aerin, generations past.

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 1982
ISBN: 978-0141309750
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
The Hero and the Crown

Although she is the daughter of Damar's king, Aerin has never been accepted as full royalty. Both in and out of the royal court, people whisper the story of her mother, the witchwoman, who was said to have enspelled the king into marrying her to get an heir to rule Damar-then died of despair when she found she had borne a daughter instead of a son. But none of them, not even Aerin herself, can predict her future-for she is to be the true hero who will wield the power of the Blue Sword...

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 1984
ISBN: 978-0812446692
Publisher: PERFECTION LEARNING CORP

Folktales

Beauty: A Re-telling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in appearance, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with a tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must travel to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father insists that he will not let her go, but she responds, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 1978
ISBN: 978-0062803450
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Rose Daughter

Once upon a time, a wealthy merchant had three daughters. When his business failed, he moved his daughters to the countryside. The youngest daughter, Beauty, is fascinated by the thorny stems of a mysterious plant that overwhelms their neglected cottage. She tends the plant until it blossoms with the most beautiful flowers the sisters have ever seen—roses.

Admiring the roses, an old woman tells Beauty, “Roses are for love.” And she speaks of a sorcerers’ battle many years ago that left a beast in an enchanted palace, and a curse concerning a family of three sisters...

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 1997
ISBN: 978-0441013999
Publisher: Ace Books
Spindle's End

The evil fairy Pernicia has set a curse on Princess Briar-Rose: she is fated to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into an endless, poisoned sleep. Katriona, a young fairy, kidnaps the princess in order to save her; she and her aunt raise the child in their small village, where no one knows her true identity. But Pernicia is looking for her, intent on revenge for a defeat four hundred years old.

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 2000
ISBN: 978-0441017676
Publisher: Ace

Pegasus

Pegasus

Because she was a princess, she had a Pegasus…

Princess Sylviianel has always known that on her twelfth birthday she too would be bound to her own Pegasus. All members of the royal family have been thus bound since the Alliance was made almost a thousand years ago; the binding system was created to strengthen the Alliance, because humans and pegasi can only communicate formally, through specially trained Speaker magicians. Sylvi is accustomed to seeing pegasi every day at the palace, but she still finds the idea of her binding very daunting. The official phrase is that your pegasus is your “Excellent Friend.” But how can you be friends with someone you can’t talk to?

But everything is different for Sylvi and Ebon from the moment they meet at her binding—when they discover they can talk to each other. They form so close a bond that it becomes a threat to the status quo—and possibly to the future safety of their two nations. For some of the magicians believe there is a reason humans and pegasi should not fully understand each other…

Author: Robin McKinley
First Release: 2010
ISBN: 978-0141338095
Publisher: Puffin Books