Robin McKinley is an American fantasy author, whose works often have active female heroes.
She has written two novels and a number of short stories in the world of Damar. The Blue Sword was a Newbery Honor book and The Hero and the Crown won a Newbery Medal.
She has written several novels retelling folk tales, including Robin Hood (The Outlaws of Sherwood), "Sleeping Beauty" (Spindle's End), "Donkeyskin" (Deerskin), and two different retellings of "Beauty and the Beast" written 20 years apart (Beauty and Rose Daughter).
Works by Robin McKinley with their own trope page include:
- Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
- The Blue Sword (and A Pool in the Desert)
- The Hero and the Crown
- The Outlaws of Sherwood
- Rose Daughter
Robin McKinley's other works provide examples of:
- Bond Creatures: Pegasus - For the human Royal family and the pegasus Royal family, each pegasus and each human have each other as a bond creature.
- Cool Horse: Pegasi.
- Cute Mute: Lily in "The Healer" in A Knot in the Grain can't speak. She and her teacher Jolin work out a form of communication via whistling, but it's very limited.
- Death by Childbirth: "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" in The Door in the Hedge.
- Discreet Drink Disposal: In "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," the soldier disposes of the drugged wine the oldest princess gives him by surreptitiously pouring it into the thick velvet cloaks he's been given to wear.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: In short story, "Hellhound".
- Evil Uncle: The Regent in "The Stagman" is Ruen's.
- Goo-Goo-Godlike: "Baby Magic" in Spindle's End. Some children are manageable, but others can get pretty dangerous and have to board with a fairy who can keep the worst effects under control until their powers subside.
- Gratuitous Japanese: Shadows. Good god, Shadows.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: Played straight with Shadows, but generally averted. Many of her female characters are teenagers/young adults, but the idea of romance is usually an afterthought.
- Insistent Terminology: Pegasus is NOT a trilogy, it's one book in three volumes.
- It Was with You All Along: Courtesy of Luthe in "The Healer." Sahath believes that his power as a mage is gone, but it's actually more that he cut himself off from it out of trauma and self-loathing. Luthe points out that Sahath has in fact been unconsciously using his magic to help him repair and build things for Lily and Jolin, and dryly teases him a little for assuming that someone with no training or previous experience in carpentry could be as good at it as Sahath has been without some kind of supernatural help.
- Never Was This Universe: Sunshine, Dragonhaven, and Shadows.
- New Sound Album: Shadows trades McKinley's poetic, lyrical writing style for a more teenager-y first person tone filled with Gratuitous Japanese.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Dragonhaven.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: In Shadows, the change is spurred not by the moon, but by extreme stress. Changing back is tricky, but can be brought on by eating a strongly "human" food (like cold oatmeal), or by the touch of someone they have a strong connection with.
- Pegasus: Pegasus
- Portent of Doom: Invoked by the Regent in "The Stagman," who goes to considerable pains to conjure up unseasonable thunderstorms which he can claim as a bad omen over his niece's upcoming ascension to the throne. Luthe is distinctly unimpressed with his sloppiness.
- Recurring Character: Luthe, the immortal mage featured most prominently in The Hero and the Crown, turns up in a lot of McKinley's stories whenever an enigmatic mentor figure is called for.
- Required Secondary Powers: Downplayed version in Spindle's End. One of the fairy godparents' gifts is a beautiful singing voice—but it doesn't say anything about having actual musical talent. Rosie naturally has a tin ear and can't carry a tune in a bucket, which the gift doesn't change.
- Rightful King Returns: In "The Stagman" in A Knot in the Grain... very reluctantly on the part of Princess Ruen, the rightful ruler in question, who has to be pushed into it by Luthe.
- Slipping a Mickey: One of the pieces of advice given to the soldier in "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" is not to drink anything the princesses give him. The old woman giving this advice remarks that she's surprised none of the other men before him have thought of it on their own.
- Something about a Rose: Rose Daughter, inevitably.
- Unwillingly Girly Tomboy: In Spindle's End, peasant-raised princess Rosie is an utter tomboy who always wears trousers, keeps her hair short, and only wears a dress with great reluctance for her foster-cousin Katriona's wedding. When she learns she's a princess, she's distraught not only because her whole life as she's known it is a lie, but because a future of wearing nothing but elegant dresses and having to be a proper royal lady horrifies her. This is part of the reason why she chooses to stay a peasant in the end, while her Girly Girl friend Peony assumes her identity as the princess.
- When She Smiles: Appears in one of the short stories in Water: Tales of the Elemental Spirits.
- Wife Husbandry: "Touk's House" in A Knot in the Grain.