I just finished Robin McKinley's beautiful new novel, Chalice. I love this book - it is lyrical and warm and the first book in a long time that I have devoured in under 24 hours. McKinley is a young adult novelist who writes fantasies and fairy tale retellings - my favorite is Beauty, a retelling of "Beauty and the Beast." Her novel The Hero and the Crown won a Newberry Award and the prequel, The Blue Sword was a Newberry Honor book.
Chalice is set in a mythical world where each region is governed by a Circle - the highest ranking members are the Master and the Chalice. Marisol is an obscure beekeeper when she is chosen to be Chalice - she bears a cup that has the power to bring people together and to heal. She is uncomfortable in this new position, but determined to help the new Master - the younger brother of the previous wicked Master.
The story is a mixture of parts - fairy tale, fantasy, romance. It is knotty in parts - long sections of exposition without dialogue and a convoluted time-line that often loops back on itself - but overall, it is a very enjoyable and engrossing read.