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Earth and Air: Tales of Elemental Creatures    by Peter Dickinson order for
Earth and Air
by Peter Dickinson
Order:  USA  Can
Small Beer Press, 2012 (2012)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Peter Dickinson has long weaved magical adventures for young adults in tales ranging from contemporary to high fantasy and accounts of prehistoric peoples. He shows that versatility once more in this new collection, Earth and Air: Tales of Elemental Creatures.

In Troll Blood, Mari helps her professor translate an ancient Old Norse manuscript. After marrying a hydro-electric engineer she moves to Scotland with him - when a troll takes her husband, she fights with all she has to save him. Young Greek Steff mourns his dog in Ridiki and goes into Tartaros (in the form of a mine 'reputed to be one of the entrances to the underworld') to get her back - and let her go.

Wizand tells an unusual tale of the passing on of strong magical powers after dormancy in an ash tree. This time a seven-year-old girl is bitten by the broomstick to become the symbiote - she grows in power but what else will follow? In Talaria, Varro (an escaped slave) survives the desert by killing a grypon - and is changed in the process.

Scops takes place on a Byzantine island, where Yanni finds and protects a baby scops owl, risking the dangerous displeasure of the new priest, and invoking help from the goddess. And in The Fifth Element, exploration ships are crewed by a combination of races, each supplying a different skill - when this crew's Cat dies unexpectedly, the human member, David, realizes what its contribution really was.

Note that the author and his wife, Robin McKinley (another amazing fantasy author) collaborated on two previous 'Tales of Elemental Spirits', Water and Fire. I recommend all three collections as well worth your time.

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