Okay, it is no secret that I am a huge fan of Charles de Lint, but I did try to approach this review from a totally objective viewpoint. If I were a reader picking up this book without any past knowledge of de Lint’s amazing skill and talent, how would I rate it?
Thing is, when the storytelling is this good, this rich and satisfying, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve read all his works, or none. This collection of stories, many involving Newford characters diehard fans will know and love, is just plain inspiring. De Lint has a gift, and it is apparent in the tales of love, loss, longing and plain magic, whether he is writing about faeries or fair humans.
The world de Lint creates is one that transposes the real with the unreal, the normal with the paranormal, the plain with the magical, yet we don’t question it at all. Because his writing and characters and plotlines are so perfect, we are drawn in from the get-go – and, when the stories end, left wanting more and more.
This is his first short story collection since 2002, and it contains some truly haunting and unforgettable stories that blend Native American, Celtic and purely American mythology and worldviews yet go even beyond to create a unique universe where anything can happen. Many of the stories read like folk songs, with touches of humor and whimsy such as talking flutes and nasty trollfolk who hate to be insulted. Then there are the more haunting tales of heartbreak and loss, death and sad endings. De Lint also pays homage to the current ghost-hunting craze with a chillingly delicious story of a paranormal investigative organization searching for creepy-crawlies in the town’s sewer system.
Whether you already know and love Jilly Coppercorn, the Crow Girls and the Raven who made the world, or have no idea who I am talking about, settle in for the night and be prepared to enter a realm of fantasy so real that you will wonder where the line of demarcation begins and ends. As for these stories, you won’t want them to ever end. But rest assured: de Lint has a lot of other books you can read.
The rest of us just have to wait patiently for the next one.