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Yarrow (Ottawa and the Valley)

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  2,174 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
From the acclaimed author of Moonheart and Memory and Dream

Cat Midhir had made a reputation as the author of popular fantasy novels. But the secret that her fans didn't know was that her Otherworld was no fantasy. Then, one night, a thief stole her dreams. Since then, she's been trapped in the everyday. And the Others are coming to find her...

Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 15th 1997 by Orb Books (first published 1986)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Oct 14, 2010 Tracey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 3-star
Yet another book I haven't read in probably twenty years, Yarrow is the story of Cat Midhir, a fantasy novelist who, unbeknownst to everyone else, is dependent on her dreams for her writing. Every night she has found herself in another world, where she sits at the feet of the tall fae bard Kothlen as he spins tales, which she on waking weaves into her books. Every night of her life since she was very young she has had what for lack of better language she calls dreams - every night until three mo ...more
Jun 09, 2008 Jen3n rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
This is the first book I ever read by Charles deLint. I was hooked right off. I liked (and continue to like) his all of his Newford books; I love the gentle blending of wild myth and urban lore. Mid-town primitives and fairies living in the electrical pulses, that sort of thing. It's Urban Fantasy from back when that genre was, literally, fantasy in an urban setting, and not what it has been turned into.

This book spoke to me directly. It's about a socially awkward writer who is a little boho and
Dec 11, 2009 Melanti rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy, 2014
Yet another de Lint book that I'd read pre-Goodreads and mistakenly entered as "to-read" instead of "read." Cat and her dream world is so close to Newford's Sophie and her dream city of Mabon that I'd actually thought what I'd remembered of this book was part of Sophie's story and thus thought I hadn't read this particular one.

The imagery surrounding Mynfel and the horns reminds me very strongly of the imagery in McKillip's Stepping From the Shadows. Since that was published just a few years bef
Deborah Ideiosepius
I read Yarrow long ago so it was almost like reading it new; as ever, Charles de Lint weaves a rich, complex fantasy with people who seem real, in circumstances that are not quite possible, but so easily believable.

It is 1981, or thereabouts, somewhere in Canada. So much has changed since 1981 that it is almost at the point of being historical fiction, our main character writes fantasy novels but her inspiration comes from her dreams and she can no longer dream. She writes them on a typewriter
Feb 14, 2011 Andrew rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2011
Not nearly as good as his later novels, but the story was entertaining. I only had three complaints:

1. Too many characters, some playing such minor roles the story would have been better off without them. The detectives are a prime example.

2. The main character was so helpless and whining. "Whaaaa... I'm lonely... I have writer's block... I'm crazy... I'm not crazy but my life is meaningless... I'm still lonely... I still have writer's block... I miss my dream pals..."

3. Perhaps this was specifi
Oct 20, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paperback, 1998
Just finished A Game of Thrones, which was such a weighty and quite depressing (but mesmerizing) book that I now need one that will lighten my soul and relieve my mind, so I'm gonna re-read this now.
Amber McCarter
May 22, 2017 Amber McCarter rated it it was ok
This was entertaining enough, but lacking any real depth - even though that is precisely what the story purported to be about. It tells you that deeper things are being revealed and realized, without any actual development of these claims in plot or character. So it was a little disappointing, because it had the bones to be much better, and just... wasn't.
Amy C
Sep 27, 2009 Amy C rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Yarrow was my first foray in to the world of Charles de Lint, and it certainly won't be my last. What an amazing mind he has. When I first began reading, numerous characters were introduced, all going about daily things. A page for this one, a page for that one. I wondered who they all were and what their relevance was to the main plot. As I read, I was drawn into each of these people and found myslef amazed how they intertwined together. Some had small roles, and others larger, but what I loved ...more
Apr 27, 2012 Donovan rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Yarrow is one of the better reads from de Lint (in my humble opinion). I can' get over his knowledge of the old Pagan ways and how they are woven in to a modern day setting. The characters are well developed and this particular story has a nice dark edge to it that keeps you a bit more riveted. Combine that with a pace that is a bit better than some of his other novels makes this a great introduction to the fantasy works and a way of sidestepping the a-typical Dungeon & Dragaon fantasy (of s ...more
Lance Greenlee
Dec 22, 2013 Lance Greenlee rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
De Lint came quite recommended by those promoting urban fantasy as an alternative to the Tolkienesque, but in truth, this came as quite a disappointment. This story and its characters lack any serious development. In the first eight pages of text, de Lint introduces Caitlin Midhir, Albert Cousins, Peter Baird, Ben Summerfield, Mick Jennings, Becki Bones, Debbie Mitchell, Andy Barnes, Farley O’Dennehy, Stella Sidney, and Rick Kirby. In eight pages, it simply can’t be done with any depth. The read ...more
This was one of my first de Lint books. Going to read again.


Just finished. I want to settle my thoughts before composing my further review. I must say it evoked more now then previously.
Chares de Lint is true storyteller. He mastered the craft of urban myth and legend. With YARROW, he uses a present day North American city where the protagonist, female fantasy author resides. The antagonist is an ageless addict who feeds his addiction with human dreams, spirit and ultimately their soul. S
pretty good read. i was not really into the amount of characters and how they were introduced, but things came together pretty well. i also think this was an earlier book, so that gripe may have been handled in later titles. i will probably find out. i do like the overall theme of mythology (of one sort or another) alive and well. it looks like this is a pattern through his other books. good.
Mary C
Jan 18, 2009 Mary C added it
I always enjoy his books and did this one. But this one was a little more scary than most.
Jun 14, 2010 Engineous rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christopher Bentley Owen
I picked up Yarrow at a used book store after really enjoying some of Charles de Lint’s short fiction. If I end up reading another of his novels, it will be in the hopes that this is not typical of his long-form work.

The story revolves around fantasy writer Cat Midhir, who travels to a magical realm, Otherworld, in her dreams. Her novels are all adaptations of traditional tales told to her in this realm by the elf bard Kothlen. But lately, she has been unable to dream at all, and has not written
Nov 19, 2014 Megan rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
If the ratio of plot to street names is any indicator of authorial priority, this book is primarily a guide to place names in Ottawa. I think buried under way, way, way too much information, there actually was a promising plot. Something about a girl who writes her dreams into bestsellers getting trapped in the dreamworld by a psychic vampire who feeds on dreams? Anyway, it barely came up.

In the first 50 pages, almost 200 proper nouns get flung at the reader. (Not exaggerating. I counted.) These
Shonna Froebel
Nov 21, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
This was a used book I grabbed as I like de Lint's fiction and hadn't read this one. Once of his earlier books (1986) it is definitely a simpler book than his more recent The Mystery of Grace. I enjoyed the read and got caught up in its good versus evil storyline, but definitely found it a lighter read.
Cat is an author of fantasy novels who is inspired by her dreams. The stories that she writes are told to her by her dream people, who she has spent time with for years. There is some uncertainty
Oct 14, 2015 Esme rated it it was ok
I read this because of the wonderful cover art. This book wasn't exactly bad, but it wasn't especially good, either. I won't go in depth into its problems; other reviews on here bring up good points. But I will say there was very little characterization, and go over a couple other annoyances below. Still, it was reasonably enjoyable, and had moments of emotional authenticity.

This book is dated. Not merely because it takes place in the eighties so there aren't cell phones and internet and all. Th
May 01, 2016 Erika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
This is one of my favorite de Lint books, I read it back in high school and I just really identified with the lead character and so wanted her powers.

Charles de Lint is one of the best at writing urban fantasy, he was in fact my introduction to it, and I love the mix of mysticism, darkness, depth and sheer beauty he brings to his stories and characters.

When I read it I felt that Caitlin and the characters she created were as real as anyone I knew in the real world, and was totally sucked into
Mar 11, 2009 Ryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
This was a pretty quick read. The cover does not do it any justice because most of the story takes place in 1982 urban Canada. First author that came to mind when I started reading was Neil Gaiman. Some of the harsher things that happen make me think of Stephen King. There is a lot of talk about how the characters "feel" and how they are coping with the outlandish situations presented which also make me think of some of the more schmaltzi (sic) crud that King has been churning out in lieu of ret ...more
Apr 09, 2015 Andy rated it it was amazing
Read this flat-out in a couple of days. It's classic Charles de Lint at his best -- a gentle urban fantasy setting shot through with a dark, thriller plot. It's a combination that shouldn't work, but does. I really connected with the heroine, Cat Midhir, her fears and insecurities are similar to my own, and I really like the way her journey played out. She finds her own strength and confidence and doesn't have to become more violent than the villain to do it. It was just what I needed right now.
Nora Peevy
Jan 14, 2012 Nora Peevy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Yarrow by Charles de Lint introduces us to Cat Midhir, a writer with a horrible case of writer's block who soon discovers something or someone is stealing her dreams in dreamtime and cutting her off from her beloved cast of characters, who actually exist in their own world! Will she succeed in fighting the eater of dreams stalking her and her friends or will she lose her writing cast of characters forever? Read and find out. This book will not disappoint.
Nov 28, 2016 Ron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hopelessly dated, not just in content but in prose and tone. The edition I read has a misleading blurb on the back cover which makes you think the main character will be transported into a fantasy world, but instead it's mostly takes place in urban Ottawa, CA. An overly meticulously detailed Ottawa that could only possibly be appreciated by someone who lived there in 1982. It also had a lot more sexual assault and rape than I was expecting. Not my best library book sale purchase.
Apr 20, 2012 Jillymom rated it liked it
Shelves: faerie
More Charles de Lint. I don't know how many stars to give these books. I really like them, although in somewhat differing amounts, and as I read more, I think, "Well, perhaps I like this one a little better than that one." Or... "Well, I really like the ones set in Ontario, but then again, the Southwest is particularly important to me now."
This novel was somewhat confusing with lots of different characters, but, lovely, a satisfying love story.
Jun 07, 2010 Kaseka rated it really liked it
This book was my gateway into Charles de Lint in specific, and urban fantasy in general. That alone makes it special to me. It's been years and years since I read it, but I want to reread it--I remember enjoying the characters, and reacting strongly to its villain--a character whose actions and descriptive passages in the novel still haunt me in the best way.
Aug 25, 2013 Elena rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, paranormal
Charles de Lint's books are somewhat tainted for me by how WEIRD he got, but this is a solid, well-written urban fantasy book. It has too many characters to be really can't-put-down, even though they all serve a purpose, and the writerly conceit is a bit much. But it's still very enjoyable.
Dec 30, 2015 Lore rated it it was amazing
Shelves: awesome-cover
Absolutely fantastic. It's a serious shame these books are so hard to find because this is a real gem
the story is beautiful and I loved how intricate it all was - things that seemed a little random at first coming together in a wonderful fashion.
Jun 19, 2012 Melissa rated it liked it
I love de Lint, and this early work shows promise which he definitely fulfills in his later work. Really enjoyed it, but, it makes me want to go read some of his later work when he's at the top of his game...
Karen Dolman
Jun 03, 2014 Karen Dolman rated it it was amazing
My most favourite of his books! An absolutely spell-binding tale and a great remake of the vampire legends. Astral-travelling author, Cat, is faced with a deadly enemy and must fight to protect all she holds dear and her life itself...
Aug 14, 2016 Pam rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A dream vampire? Yes! He is a formidable enemy, seemingly unstoppable. I enjoyed the characters and the story hummed along. A nice read. The story is a little dated, with references to 80's songs and TV shows, but as long as you were alive back then, you'll get them.
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What's The Name o...: Fantasy, A Woman's Dreams Get Stolen [s] 5 44 Nov 29, 2013 05:16AM  
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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)
  • Moonheart
  • Ascian in Rose
  • Greenmantle
  • Westlin Wind
  • Merlin Dreams In The Mondream Wood
  • Ghostwood
  • Spiritwalk
  • The Road to Lisdoonvarna

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