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The Mystery of Grace

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  2,429 Ratings  ·  336 Reviews

On the Day of the Dead, the Solona Music Hall is jumping. That's where Altagracia Quintero meets John Burns, just two weeks too late.

Altagracia – her friends call her Grace – has a tattoo of Nuestra Señora de Altagracia on her shoulder, she's got a Ford Motor Company tattoo running down her leg, and she has grease worked so deep into her hands that it'll never wash

Paperback, 269 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Tor Books (first published March 17th 2009)
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Mar 22, 2009 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meh, blog
**Some mild spoilers ahead**

On the front of this novel, Alice Hoffman is quoted as saying “No one does it better.” That’s not true. A lot of people do it better. Alice Hoffman, for example. Or Robin McKinley. Or Neil Gaiman.

Altagracia "Grace" Quintero is a self-described gearhead covered head to toe in tattoos, and she gets pissed when people judge her for her ink instead of her character. She loves classic hot rods (which she rebuilds), rockabilly and surf guitar, and Ford Motor Company (and s
May 16, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Grace and John meet at a bar on Halloween, the attraction between the two is undeniable. Everything is going well, until the morning after Grace mysteriously vanishes from John's apartment after John confesses he feels responsible for the death of his brother.

That's the hook for Charles De Lint's latest fantasy novel, "The Mystery of Grace." The novel is one part love story, one part fantasy story and one part fairy tale.

The romantic coupling of Grace and John has some problems before it.
Three and a half stars, rounding up.

Very nicely woven book. I always love de Lint's use of language and description, but he keeps his focus on the plot and character relationship here more than getting lost in the setting. The characters, Grace and John, became very real, and the side characters interesting. One of the most fascinating things about the book was that the setting for the afterlife became more real than the "real world" at times. I enjoyed the process of Grace gradually caring more
Mar 14, 2009 Brooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2009
The Mystery of Grace is a perfect de Lint novel. It has fully fleshed out characters I really cared about, the author's familiar treatment of spirit worlds and the ordinary people who encounter them, and the easy-going voice I've come to love over the years.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who hasn't yet read a de Lint novel. It does differ from his others in that the spirit world in this book is a limbo where people are trapped after they die. There aren't any of his usual fairies o
Apr 23, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Charles de Lint is my favorite author. Period. So I grabbed this without even looking at the bookflap and just plunged in. Do yourself a favor and do the same thing. Without knowing anything about the book, the prologue is one of the best hooks I've read in a long time. But you can't know anything about the story beforehand. But, man, what a hook!

One of the things I love about de Lint is how his characters always have faith in something bigger than themselves, but that faith doesn't necessarily
Jeff Miller
May 30, 2011 Jeff Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I certainly didn't intend to finish this novel in one day, but I did.

There are so many elements to this novel - a love story, life after death, sacrifice, moving on, purgatorial aspects - all combined in a story that moves you in many parts. The spiritual side of it mixes a bunch of different beliefs from Wikka, voodoo or something like it, Catholicism, etc - but this blending shores up the story and brings you along. You certainly come to care for the characters who while flawed are moving in h
Carolyn Phelps
Jun 24, 2009 Carolyn Phelps rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unexpectedly fine story. My favorite part comes towards the end of the book: Every time we make something out of nithing, that's an act of magic. I doesn't matter if it's a painting or a garden, or an abuelo telling his grandchildren some tall tale. every time we fix something that's broken, whether it's a car enghine or a broken heart, that an act of magic. And what makes it magic is that we choose to create or help, just as we can choose to harm...If we can only remember what we are and wha ...more
Oct 22, 2008 Jenne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, reviewed
When John meets Grace he knows there is something unusual about her but he is falling in love with her two weeks too late.

Grace is an unusual woman. Not because of the tattoos, or because of her job as at Sanchez Motor work where she restores and customizes old cars. No, Grace is dead. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time - the corner shop when a kid decided to rob it.
But instead of passing on, Grace wakes up in her own apartment in a realm occupied by the dead of her neighbourhood. She
Jul 22, 2010 Sandi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite TV show when I was a little girl was "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir". I loved the story of a romance between a widow and the ghost who occupies the house she moves into. The Mystery of Grace gave me the same feeling I got from that old TV show. It's beautiful and poignant. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give anything away.

The Mystery of Grace is different from the other Charles de Lint novels I've read. It's much more introspective and romantic. I will warn you that t
Hope Baugh
Apr 16, 2009 Hope Baugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This stand-alone urban fantasy/romance by one of my favorite authors was published for adults but will, I think, appeal to many teen fantasy readers, too, and/or teens interested in questions of faith and what happens after we die. The book opens with a chapter about John and the beautiful, heavily-tattooed woman he picked up at a bar. One minute she is using his bathroom. The next minute she has disappeared. However, the book is more about that woman than about John. Her name is Altagracia, or ...more
CJ - It's only a Paper Moon
Just a great book. As usual, Charles de Lint's books have a certain quality to them that is both light and solid. The subject matter is can be important and sometimes heavy but the way that he tells a story is nothing short of magical.

This book is not apart of the Newford collection but it does take place in a small town that fuses both Spanish, Native American and Anglo cultures together. The main character is a beautiful, tattooed, mechanic who loves her grandfather and shuts down emotionally
Jun 09, 2009 Claire rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
I was pretty disappointed by this one, but I knew within the first chapter that something was off. It's like de Lint felt he had to branch out so he watched the Discovery Channel for weeks and then busted out a novel. He's trying overly hard to be hip instead of writing what he knows or what he imagines. The constant trend mentioning is gonna date this one fast too.
Nov 15, 2013 Eleanor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-reads, 2016, fantasy
Shades of The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and I enjoyed that book too! This is a thoughtful story and stayed with me for a while after I finished reading it. The idea of Limbo being a place to finish learning life's lessons is nuanced throughout.
Alex Fayle
May 08, 2011 Alex Fayle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While Charles de Lint writes a lot of YA fiction, The Mystery of Grace isn’t one of them. That’s not to say that teens shouldn’t read it, but it deals with themes that aren’t very YA. It starts out with a one night stand and love at first site, spends most of the book exploring death and separation, and meditates on what it means to live a full life.

Despite all that, as a teen, I certainly would have read it and loved it. I believed in the possibility of a love strong enough to surpass death. I
Jul 26, 2009 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good weekend read. Not as complex or meaty as many of Mr. de Lint's other full-length novels, but entertaining with a unique plot and enough twists to keep things compelling.

Set in the American Southwest, in a world that's an intriguing mix of custom vintage cars, rockabilly music, taquerias and adobe house, The Mystery of Grace has a compelling plot. But that's all I can really say, because I'm not big on spoilers, and to describe the plot at all would be a spoiler. Even the book jacket very
Sarah Sammis
With my on-going goal to read more Charles de Lint, I chose his newest adult urban fantasy novel, The Mystery of Grace. I'd actually tag it as a contemporary Gothic horror but the two genres share many points in common.

Grace learned from her beloved Abuelo the fine art of restoring classic American cars. She's a fanatic for Fords to the point of having the company logo (along with many others) tattooed to her body. As she lives in a small south west town, she is well known. For those who don't k
Shelton TRL
Oct 26, 2012 Shelton TRL rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Character-driven. Atmospheric, Romantic. Lyrical.

This book is an excellent piece of urban fantasy incorporating both romance and mystery. Grace is a mechanic who dies, ends up in a purgatory-like afterlife centered around her old apartment building, and then meets her true love (who is still living) on one of the two nights a year when she can mingle with the living. Grace now has to determine what traps her in this small afterlife and whether or not she wants to move on.

Recommended for those wh
Barrett Brassfield
Quite possibly my favorite Charles de Lint novel. I have enjoyed all of his novels that I have read because he combines such interesting elements in his fantastical stories and Jilly will always be my favorite de Lint character but The Mystery of Grace is such a near-perfect little novel and nowhere do I think de Lint as a writer is better than he is here. This is because de Lint can be a little wordy in his descriptions of settings at times and this can occasionally place the character outside ...more
Jan 12, 2014 Autumn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is why I love browsing bookstores and the library: unexpected surprises. I hadn't read a Charles de Lint book in a long time. The last one I read was Widdershins, and did like it but found it slow. I found a copy of this one in Half Price Books and decided to get it from the library. This was very different from the other de Lint books I've read: no faeries, set in the southwest, minority protagonist, very specific and different culture and setting. Grace is a great character. She's a heavi ...more
Kevin Farrell
Feb 07, 2012 Kevin Farrell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Typical boy-meets-girl, they-fall-in-love, she-disappears-on-her-way-out-of-the-bathroom, boy-finds-out-she-died-two-weeks-before-they-met. Actually, not so typical and so well told by Charles de Lint. The only other book by de Lint that I have read was Onion Girl. That one was a really good YA novel about ordinary people who had a touch of magic in them. So I was at the library the other day and saw this one on the shelf. I took it home and enjoyed it very much.

Like his other books, de Lint cre
May 08, 2009 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is Charles de Lint, so of course in many ways it's fabulous, but it was also. . .a little bit strange. There are the expected de Lint touches---Grace is an appealing character in a no-win situation, and de Lint has a way of making a world I'd never even considered before---a world of custom hot rods, rockabilly music, and tattoos---kind of intriguing. The Southwestern setting of this book is lovingly depicted, and the book as a whole moves more quickly than is de Lint's norm. At the same ti ...more
Mar 27, 2009 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Latina hot-rodder Grace intervenes in an attempted robbery in her neighborhood and is shot in the chest, she comes to in her bedroom, dead. It seems she and a a number of other people who died in the neighborhood was "stuck" in a limbo of sorts, but can crossover to the world of living two nights a year. As she comes to terms with being deceased, Grace makes friends and is quick to take advantage of Samhain to slips back through, where, or course, she meets a soulmate. The conflict of this ...more
Jul 06, 2009 Betsy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This ghost/romance story was a quick read but not a totally "wow" read for me. While I liked it well enough when I was reading it, looking back to four days ago when I finished it, I really had to think about it for a few minutes, to remember how the book ended. I liked the concept of the dead being able to walk among the living twice a year and that two people who, when they were both alive, would probably not have ended up together, somehow find commonality & a bond that is both spiritual ...more
Erin Brenner
It's been a while since I'd read a de Lint book. He used to be one of my favorite authors, but it had gotten to a point where I'd read everything and I had to wait for something new. I guess I left it too long because now there seems to be a lot out there. This is definitely one of his weaker books.

The biggest problem is that de Lint just doesn't do a good job addressing Grace's issues with the Catholic faith and yet that's what the book ends up being about. Two-thirds of the book is devoted to
Apr 30, 2009 Dianna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: charles-de-lint
i love delint, but he is uneven, and he's been particularly uneven for his last couple of novels. i was really thinking that the man had lost his mojo, that having played his fictional city of Newford out, he was kind of over.

in this book, he invents a new city somewhere in the southwest, and at first i had high hopes. and really, it's not bad. but it doesn't reach the magical place that his best books do. it was an odd story sort of about the afterlife and involving a rather unconvincing romanc
Aug 11, 2015 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars

The plot has great potential, but the execution makes this book mostly a disappointment.

For one thing, the writing leaves something to be desired. There is WAY too much telling instead of showing, and adverbs used as a crutch instead of strong verbs pulling us in. Characters seem very cookie-cutter, and they all have the same voice.

The storyline brings some fascinating lines of thought to mind, and in theory sounds great, but it never leads to anything satisfactory. What you spend the f
Jul 27, 2009 ccqdesigns rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charles de Lint has another great read with this one. Although I am not sure Grace fits into the Urban Fantasy category as much as his other books do. This one is more like The Shack than a fantasy book. Of course, since I am a de Lint fanatic, I may be a bit biased, but this is one great book. Grace is a young latina who specializes in rebuilding muscle cars which she learned from her grandfather. She is covered in tattoos and is very lonely after her grandfather's death. She finally meets the ...more
May 18, 2009 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, may-2009
This latest book by Charles De Lint is a departure from his loose series set in the imagined city of Newford with its blurred connections to an other world of fantasy, danger, and delight. The Mystery of Grace is set in the Southwest, and focuses on the impossible love story of Grace, a grease monkey and hot rod car builder and restorer, and John Burns, a rather shy and ordinary guy who uses his artistic skills to assist his best friends in the company they founded. A one-night stand leads to a ...more
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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
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“Tattoos...are the stories in your heart, written on your skin.” 103 likes
“Not only do we all have magic, it's all around us as well. We just don't pay attention to it. Every time we make something out of nothing, that's an act of magic. It doesn't matter if it's a painting or a garden, or an abuelo telling his grandchildren some tall tale. Every time we fix something that's broken, whether it's a car engine or a broken heart, that's an act of magic.

And what makes it magic is that we *choose* to create or help, just as we can choose to harm. But it's so easy to destroy and so much harder to make things better. That's why doing the right thing makes you stronger.

If we can only remember what we are and what we can do, nobody can bind us or control us.”
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