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Moonheart (Ottawa and the Valley)

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,903 Ratings  ·  243 Reviews
A sprawling building in downtown Ottawa is actually a portal between two worlds. Now, Sara and Jamie are being drawn into an ancient land of mists and forests, mythical beings, and restless evil.
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Published June 1st 2009 by Findaway World (first published October 1984)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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5.0 stars. Fresh, original urban fantasy with deep, rich settings, well drawn characters and a terrific multi-layered plot. De Lint's use of the Celtic and North American Indian mythologies as the foundation of the story made it all the more enjoyable as they are not often portrayed in fantasy. There are so many memorable characters that it is hard to pinpoint any one that stands out above the rest, but characters like Pukwudji and Tamson House itself showed De Lint's incredible talent for creat ...more
Jun 20, 2016 Ioana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moonheart is quite aways beyond my usual range, chosen out of (GR/Amazon) recommendations based on recommendations thrice removed from books I've actually read. So, although I realize based on other reviews that this is considered "classic urban fiction", for me, it was quite bizarre and different (a good thing).

Moonheart has its flaws, and it probably won't appeal to many, but I give it a 4 for the intersection of (1) weird/made me think (2) well-written, if not "literary" (3) Native American/
Jan 04, 2008 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With a title like Moonheart and a description that includes the phrase "fey folk beyond the shadows of the moon" you are fairly warned that this is fantasy of the uber-nerdy species. Nonetheless, this book is good fun. The characters are well-developed and the Otherworld that they enter is very romantic and captivating. What develops as the plot is good versus evil with the simple twist that the good characters are normal people like us that have no idea what they are doing and must learn how t ...more
Arielle Walker
I'm completely dithering around how to rate this book. Charles de Lint has the wonderful ability to simultaneously bring the fantastical down to earth, and make the mundane utterly magical. And yet, sometimes, that ability doesn't quite translate into a coherent plot - does that matter?

I can't tell. Maybe this was really only a three star book, filled with a few too many characters and storylines and sudden endings and twists that don't quite make sense - not to mention the not one but two case
Oct 26, 2007 John rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
a really, really difficult read. it might work for a young teenager.

this was one of many books by the author that hit the user-selected top 100 books of the 20th century put out by some publishing group, i forget who. at the time i was making an effort to go through and read the top 100 picks from both the academics and the popular list. this book was the highest rated by this author. if this is his best book, i would never dare open another.

poor characterizations, uncompelling plot, lack of dra
Jan 02, 2009 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is a very early Charles de Lint book, about a modern-day magic house, a druid, a Celtic bard, Native Americans, elves, wizards, um, am I forgetting anything? :) It's fun, imaginative, and exciting, and its only real flaw is that the characters are more like caricatures. The Native Americans are humorless native warriors who live in teepees but have a strong tradition of association with the spirits, the Celtic bard talks like, well, a Celtic bard from legend, etc.. And, like his other early ...more
Kat  Hooper
Nov 21, 2011 Kat Hooper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Sara and her uncle Jamie live in Tamson House, the old family mansion that takes up a street block in Ottawa. While Sara runs their cluttered curiosity shop, Jamie spends his days studying the arcane and playing host to the eccentrics and homeless people who come and go through Tamson House. Sara and Jamie’s interests collide when Sara discovers an old gold ring that seems to draw her into an ancient past — a past where Welsh and Native American mythology
Sep 14, 2015 Gertie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I'm challenging myself this year to read 3 books off of this Readers's Top 100 list:

I'm going for the least sucky looking ones that I haven't read, and which aren't 777 pages long. :-) I will choose from the books on this shelf.


Moonheart was okay. That's really all I can say - it was interesting enough that I didn't give up on it, but not nearly compelling enough for me to read more in the series. That's all I'm going to say
Apr 13, 2014 Casceil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ylto-chunkster
I just reread this fantasy classic for the first time in twenty years. I had forgotten how much I liked it. Sarah Tams lives with her uncle, Jesse Tams, at a large and mysterious house that occupies an entire city block in Ottawa. Sarah also runs an "antiquarian" store, where they sell all sorts of odd objects. Going through storage boxes in the back room, Sarah finds some odd but intriguing items, including what appears to be a ball of clay but turns out to have a golden ring hidden inside. Fro ...more
I loved this book when I first read it (20+ yrs ago?) and the at least 3 times I read it since. It's been at least 5 years, so it looks like it's time again. I never considered it to be urban, didn't even know the term the, so I am very interested to see how I view it through my slightly older eye.
I need a 'I can feel the soil falling over my head' shelf. Or maybe a 'bored before I even began' shelf.
Oct 18, 2011 Stephen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
For years I have heard great things about Moonheart. So much hype centers around this as a defining work in the career of Charles de Lint. I had read several works by de Lint and liked them all. However, all the hype made it hard for me to get started and this book sat on my shelf for a year.

Then I started reading. The book starts in 'real world' Ottawa with introductions for some of the recurring 'main' characters. This part moved nicely along and set up the blend of mystery, urban fantasy, and
Feb 12, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
So, I Read This Book Today
Who among you remembers the first book you read? Or, shall we say the first which made a real impression on you? For me, I grew up on a household that didn't read, and didn't really provide books for a budding bibliophile. So, I did what I could, mostly snitching school books to read from my older cousins. The first I really remember? Being six years old and sneaking my cousin's high school mythology books from her room. The ideas there absolutely fascinated me. Gods and monsters. Far distant la ...more
Oct 20, 2011 Ithlilian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
I know that deLint is classic, and that everyone should like it because of that, but I didn't like this. Yes, it is going to be different from newer urban fantasy, but it wasn't the slow pace that bothers me. I mean, I have read epic fantasy that progresses at a snails pace. It was more the overall feel of the novel. It just felt like it was from a different time, and that I would have had to be alive then to appreciate it. The style just really didn't sit well with me, and of course the plot, c ...more
Apr 18, 2012 Lori rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book has many elements I like - contemporary Canadian content! Ancient Celts! Native Americans! Shapeshifters! Music! But it never adds up to a whole that makes any sense, and none of the characters are particularly attractive, nor do they seem at all real. Even the city of Ottawa feels nothing like the city I know. This is the 3rd de Lint book I've read; at this point I must draw the conclusion that he simply doesn't speak to me.

For a review that perfectly expands on my own sense of the bo
Jun 15, 2008 Bridie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first brush with Charles de Lindt, when I was 16. The first time I fell in love with a character in a book! (This was before I met Heathcliffe, but Blue, the biker shaman in Moonheart, knocks the socks even off him!) I love the way that de Lindt moves his stories effortlessly between the *real* world and the *other* worlds that he writes about. If anyone has been there, along with Brian Froud, it's him. He's not as well known in the UK as he is in the US, which is a shame. Should be shelved a ...more
May 02, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in college after a friend strongly recommended it. This is easily a world that you can fall into, with believable characters in an unbelievable world. The best way to describe this book is an "urban fantasy," but it's more than that. There are dusty bookshelves, mysterious artifacts, a house that transcends earthly limits, a biker dude named Blue, a computer named Memoria, and Native American rituals. This is a great way to introduce yourself to Charles de Lint.
Jun 11, 2015 Freya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
review to come :)
Jul 12, 2008 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is an urban fantasy that delivers on every promise it makes; unlike many of the current crop, this book gives you characters to really care about, as opposed to making the protagonists nearly as unlikable as the antagonists.

Well worth the read for any who like Celtic mythology, shamanism, or just a little magic in your everyday.
Dec 04, 2014 Krazykiwi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's not perfect, it's a bit rambly, sometimes a little confusing. It's dated in places, and not always too well. The characterisation is a little uneven, and there are almost too many characters to keep track of at times. Even de Lint himself in the afterword admits it's not the book he set out to write, and not the one he'd write now, but he resists the temptation to "fix" it.

And I'm giving it 5 stars anyway, because any book that sticks with you for 25 years, and still gives as much joy to re
May 16, 2015 Christina marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
I think if I'd tried reading this book in the late nineties, I would have actually made it all the way through. Maybe even liked it. In the nineties, the New Age flavor of this fantasy world would have been less jarring, because Native American appropriation and Celtic mysticism were in style. Also, in the nineties, I was a teenager. I wouldn't have seen anything wrong with the way the main characters were all so quirky they could barely function in the "real world" and how they're portrayed as ...more
Jun 15, 2014 Grace rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
de Lint is one of my favorite authors, but this early work of his was disappointing to me. Why? 1) he uses names that are unpronounceable. For some reason, I want to be able to pronounce the names in my head, and I hate not being able to do that. The names are filled with apostrophes and other punctuation marks that irritate me. 2) Too many characters. The whole RCMP subplot should have been cut from the book. 3) he has this one character always swearing with these really nasty swears: "Lord lif ...more
Apr 27, 2011 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charles de Lint is one of my favourite authors of contemporary fantasy. He makes me believe in magic and that it could be alive today. I was so excited to find this gem in my local second-hand bookstore.

The combination of ancient lore and modern times works in this book. Written in 1984, except for a couple of references to obsolete technology, it stands the test of time. Sara Kendell finds a medicine bag and a remarkably clear picture of two men in the back of her uncle’s store. She and her un
Mar 12, 2015 Denis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: do-not-own
I am not a regular reader of Fantasy (though I have read Heinlein's "Glory Road" and "The Hobbit...") I admit, I am a bit of a snob about this genre. My step daughter Shaela defends and debates, all in fun of course, it with me all the time. I say it's all Goblins, Unicorns, Elves, Wizards, Dragons... and plots based on a group of people along with Trolls, Ogres (or Oafs...) and so on, walking around in the woods with bows and arrows, swords or sling shots in search of some kind of trinket or an ...more
Lisa H.
Apr 25, 2011 Lisa H. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I had read de Lint's The Riddle of the Wren years ago - around 1980, if I recall - and remember nothing about it except the cool cover, with its Celtic-influenced design.

Then a friend passed Moonheart to me as a must-read, and I was hooked.

De Lint's storytelling web is woven out of European folk beliefs, Celtic myth, Native American practice, that little niggle inside your head telling you there's more to certain places than meets the eye, mysterious pockets of forest amid an urban setting that
Apr 27, 2012 Donovan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Overall, I had a connection with Moonheart. I read it in the early 90's and something within it struck me and I know I liked it. Unfortunately the novel reads like a dream and as with a dream it quickly becomes forgotten. I will re-read it as this dream-like quality is typical of Charles de Lint's work. That does NOT mean it's terribly written. On the contrary, it is elegant in many ways.
The pace is slow though, so some may find it boring. There are a lot of subtleties that have to do with the p
Ben Babcock
I’m Canadian and a lover of fantasy but have somehow managed not to read any books by Charles de Lint, ever. I’m not sure if this represents great skill or just gobsmacking stupidity on my part. It’s probably some mixture of the two. My roommate lent me Moonheart, promising I would love it in tones that made me hope I would, lest awkward differences of critical opinion ensue. Fortunately, I do love this book. De Lint does an amazing job combining Celtic mythology and contemporary Canada to creat ...more
Nov 09, 2013 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mythic fiction, urban fantasy lovers
Great read of a modern Mythic Fiction based on Celtic mythology, primarily from Welsh sources interlaced with North American Indigene mythos (Ottawa). Many would consider it an Urban Fantasy today, but I found its use of its ancient sources most compelling. It is filled with inside jokes and literary illusions. Moonheart can be read on several levels from teen/YA to adult. It would be a great book for group discussion for sharing Celtic and Ottawa mythos and discovering the jokes and illusions.

Aug 08, 2007 Blaire rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is an early book of Mr. de Lint's, and although I think it was probably a seminal work when first published, I've read other urban fantasy that I liked better, including some by this author. I found the premise to be very interesting (a house whose outside is in contemporary Ottawa, but whose inside is in a fey place that seems to be part Celtic and part Native American. But...the book lacked depth despite the plethora of archetypes available to work with. It is a pretty simple story that i ...more
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More Magical Houses? 3 22 Feb 04, 2015 12:11AM  
Soul Gems Book Club: August Book Pick: Moonheart 1 12 Aug 02, 2014 06:46AM  
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Charles de Lint is the much beloved author of more than seventy adult, young adult, and children's books. Renowned as one of the trailblazers of the modern fantasy genre, he is the recipient of the World Fantasy, Aurora, Sunburst, and White Pine awards, among others. Modern Library's Top 100 Books of the 20th Century poll, conducted by Random House and voted on by readers, put eight of de Lint's b ...more
More about Charles de Lint...

Other Books in the Series

Ottawa and the Valley (9 books)
  • Yarrow
  • Ascian in Rose
  • Greenmantle
  • Westlin Wind
  • Merlin Dreams In The Mondream Wood
  • Ghostwood
  • Spiritwalk
  • The Road to Lisdoonvarna

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“Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.” 1836 likes
“Sara Kendell once read somewhere that the tale of the world is like a tree. The tale, she understood, did not so much mean the niggling occurrences of daily life. Rather it encompassed the grand stories that caused some change in the world and were remembered in ensuing years as, if not histories, at least folktales and myths. By such reasoning, Winston Churchill could take his place in British folklore alongside the legendary Robin Hood; Merlin Ambrosius had as much validity as Martin Luther. The scope of their influence might differ, but they were all a part of the same tale.” 7 likes
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