I agree wholeheartedly with A. Fortis' observations on Patricia McKillip. Many readers either love her, or hate her entirely because of that elusive quality in her writing of formulating a beautiful, dreamlike world in which subtleties are the order of the day. Her work is incomparable, but her universes, at least, seem to resemble Tanith Lee's, in that there is often no single "evil" to battle, but a diffident and soulless way of life. For some readers, this way of writing doesn't work - and sometimes McKillip's work doesn't resonate with me.
One McKillip book that DID work, though, is this year's Alphabet of Thorn. It's highly imaginative and beautiful, and I hope you get a chance to snag it. I especially loved it because there was a Floating School for Mages, which works at the behest of Queen Tessera, who is new Queen and young and inexperienced. The Mages sense impending doom for her and many doubt that she will be able to hold the twelve Crowns of Raine into one dominion. One Crown is already in revolt, but that isn't the doom to come. The true doom of Raine is being shown in dreams, and has something to do with thorns.
Meanwhile, in the library under the palace, in the archives, an orphaned translator named Nepthene is working away at deciphering a message written in throny script. She's jealously guarding her secret task, trusting in no one to help her... which should already give her second thoughts about why it's so important. As the palace falls under siege, Nepthene and her friends realize that the information she's guarding may be able to tell how the Queen can save her kingdom...
It's a short novel, and has quite a rich plotline, so I don't want to give too much away. The ending may frustrate, as the beautiful world ends with all the abruptness of a bubble popping... but it's worth reading, even though some bookstores don't yet carry it. McKillip may be enigmatic and elusive, but her work is worth seeking out.