I was a little worried that I'd be disappointed in Chalice, probably because McKinley has written so many books I've enjoyed that I don't want to encounter one I'm not tickled with. And though I'm not crazy about the title, I needn't have worried.
The language of Chalice is very similar to the language of Deerskin (possibly my favorite book ever)--which is to say that McKinley's style is composed of a comforting, repetitive storytellingness that I love.
Chalice the position Mirasol holds the Willowlands. She wasn't trained for the position but she should have been. The Chalice's duty, using elemental understanding and magic, is to keep her land (and people) from destroying itself. Apart from trying to hold her demesne together (and barely being able to do that), she is also trying to help the new Master to keep his position; the Overlord seems determined to be rid of him, no matter what chaotic harm that would bring to the lands and people, and Mirasol's future will be determined by the success or failure of the Overlord's scheme.
Chalice is a wonderful story with a strong (if shy and uncertain) woman in the leading role. I'd highly recommend it to any teen (or tween) girl who enjoys fairy tales and fantasy. Or adults, for that matter.
Thanks to Lenore at Presenting Lenore and Penguin for this book!