Dreams Underfoot introduced readers to de Lint's fictional city of Newford. Magic is on the streets of Ne"Every time it rains a ghost comes walking."
Dreams Underfoot introduced readers to de Lint's fictional city of Newford. Magic is on the streets of Newford if you just know where to look for it. It's usually in the most unexpected places.
Man, I love the Newford books. This book started my re-read of them all in order. They aren't really a series, so I've skipped around, reading them as I find them, but I'm curious to see my favorite characters grow in a more natural progression.
I really don't remember what order I read these in initially, but this was definitely one of the first. There are some true gems in here.
I'm going to pull most of this review straight from my status updates.
Uncle Dobbin's Parrot Fair--"Jilly, Christy, Professor Dapple, Goon, and even a crow (not a Crow Girl, mind you, but a crow nevertheless)--I don't love this first story but de Lint laid one hell of a foundation for Newford here."
The Stone Drum--"Liked Stone Drum, although it reminded me how curious I am about the Kelledys. I wonder if there is a book about them that I haven't read yet? Would be nice to know their backstory in full. And Goon's a skookin. I've been thinking of him as a goblin because I couldn't remember the right name."
Timeskip--"Starting Timeskip! I remember it as my favorite of de Lint's stories. I hope it holds up. With an opening sentence of "Every time it rains a ghost comes walking," it is off to the perfect start....Such a perfect, bittersweet story. So important to "Geordie, me lad"'s story arc. Love. It."
"Freewheeling is too sad for me. I probably shouldn't see it that way but I do."
That Explains Poland--"A fun yet thoughtful story. It is better to keep the magic of some experiences to yourself."
"Romano Drum--The Romany story was nothing new."
"The Sacred Fire was super-creepy! I'm regretting reading it before bed! It is interesting how the idea behind this story fully manifested itself in The Onion Girl."
"Winter Was Hard is another of my favorite stories. I love the gemmin. It's another bittersweet story, but when I finished, I had to just sit there for a few minutes and enjoy what it made me feel."
And I stopped my updates there. I'll do what I can from memory now.
Pity the Monsters--Verrry creepy. These two are definitely a pair of monsters. Yet I did pity one of them at least. The more monstrous one. Makes you wonder who the real monster is.
Ghosts of Wind and Shadow--More of the Kelledys! I really had forgotten how much I like them. The dangers of putting children in convenient "boxes" and refusing to see the magic in the world. More about the magic found in music.
The Conjure Man--I love the idea behind this one. A tree that grows as people share their stories with it.
Small Deaths--I don't remember this one as well. It's not a standout by any means. It's something about the light inside us and how the choices we make can lead to "small deaths." You know, those choices that we all make that start us down the wrong path.
The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep--Another old favorite! I love Sophie and her alternate reality. This one has a very classic fairy tale feel.
In the House of My Enemy--A difficult story about child abuse. Gives some big insight into the histories of some favorite characters.
But For the Grace Go I--I like Margaret and Tommy and their pack of dogs. A reminder that we can always choose to turn our life around.
Bridges--I don't like this one much either. It's a little dark, but ultimately it is about hope.
Our Lady of the Harbor--Basically a modern re-telling of The Little Mermaid.
Paperjack--Gives some closure to "Timeskip." Paperjack himself reminds me of John Coffey from The Green Mile.
Tallulah--Christy's first real story. No wonder I always think of him as being melancholy. About the way the very nature of a city can change with its people.
This collection is just a fantastic introduction to Newford. It reminded me why I fell in love with these books in the first place....more
For those 2 people who don't know, The Arabian Nights is sort of a collection of short stories told in the Arabian world, as I'm told it should be calFor those 2 people who don't know, The Arabian Nights is sort of a collection of short stories told in the Arabian world, as I'm told it should be called, (which seems to include India and parts of China) waaaaaay back in the day. The framework of the story is about a sultan who caught his wife cheating on him. After he has her killed, he decides to take out his revenge on the entire sex, so he marries a different wife every day and has her killed the next morning. Scheherazade is the Grand Vizier's beautiful, intelligent daughter. She realizes that this can't go on, so she comes up with a plan. She asks to be the next wife of the sultan, and she starts telling him a story on their wedding night. But buried within that story is another story. The sultan is so intrigued by the story that he decides to let her live so he can find out how the story ends. She keeps stringing him along like this, theoretically for 1000 nights, until he relents and gives her a full pardon and takes her for his real wife. But that's only a very small part of the book. The biggest part of the book is the stories Scheherazade tells the sultan. Included are Aladdin, Ali Baba, Sinbad, and others that we've probably all heard in one form or another.
I just picked this up because I wanted to see what it was all about. This version was very readable. It was interesting to see a slice of Arabian life. I would catch myself thinking, "They treat women so badly over there" and then I would remember that when these stories were first told, women were treated badly pretty much everywhere. But then there would be some stories where the women had surprising freedom and I would catch myself wondering where things started going bad. I can't say that I know enough about the culture to comment on what's changed and what hasn't, but these stories do give you a little idea of what life is/was like in the Middle East and where they're coming from. And in these times, a little understanding can only be a good thing....more
Stephen King's short stories are always scarier to me than his novels. He leaves just enough unsaid for my imagination to take over and then I'm jumpyStephen King's short stories are always scarier to me than his novels. He leaves just enough unsaid for my imagination to take over and then I'm jumpy for days....more
I apologize in advance for the length of this review. This is a collection of the "Year's Best Fantasy" for 2007. Overall the collection was pretty daI apologize in advance for the length of this review. This is a collection of the "Year's Best Fantasy" for 2007. Overall the collection was pretty dark fantasy. I definitely enjoyed it and I look forward to reading books by authors I discovered here. For a more accurate review (and for my own future recollection), I feel like I have to review all 23 stories contained within this book. Again, I apologize, and don't feel like you have to read all of this.
"Paper Cuts Scissors: by Holly Black--4 stars--The main character's girlfriend folds herself inside a book during an argument. Of course the guy feels guilty and tries to find someone who can get her out. This idea was original to me, so I enjoyed it.
"A Portrait in Ivory" by Michael Moorcock--2 stars--Some elvish kind of guy has his portrait carved into dragon ivory. I don't know the Eternal Champion cycle this is based on, so it doesn't make sense to me. Fans of the bigger work would surely enjoy this one though.
"The Witch's Headstone" by Neil Gaiman--4 stars--A live boy living in a graveyard and being taken care of by the ghosts there accidentally meets the witch buried just outside the fence. Trouble follows. I like Gaiman and I liked this story. The introduction says the story is "perhaps part of a novel in progress." I hope so. I would read it. Who wouldn't love a boy named Nobody Owens?
"The Ruby Incomparable" by Kage Baker--5 stars--The daughter of the evil Master of Mountains and the Saint of the World learns magic and rejects all her mother has to teach. But does she have something to learn from her mother after all? This was more my kind of fantasy. Not too dark, full of magic, and it doesn't take itself too seriously. I enjoyed this one enough that I'll be looking for Baker's books.
"And Such Small Deer" by Chris Roberson--4 stars--The introduction to this one says that it's based on a line from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire." "'Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson,' said Holmes in a reminiscent voice. 'It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared.'" This story mixed up characters from several different works in unexpected ways. I enjoyed it.
"Unpossible" by Daryl Gregory--3 stars--A middle-aged man who's lost everything that matters tries to find his way back to Neverland. Again, this story has references to several other childhood works sprinkled throughout, but it was a little dark and depressing.
"Winter's Wife" by Elizabeth Hand--4 stars--A man meets a woman from Iceland online and eventually marries her and brings her home to Maine. She does some pretty inexplainable, protector-of-the-forest things. I liked the "green" tint to this story, but it was a little dark also.
"The King of the Djinn" by David Ackert and Benjamin Rosenbaum--3 stars--A Muslim man is befriended by the king of the djinn. The king eventually grants him a wish. This is a precautionary "Be careful what you wish for" tale set in the Middle East. There's a lot to think about in this little story, but it was a little too real and dark for me.
"Stilled Life" by Pat Cadigan--5 stars. A girl who likes to busk as a human statue gets a little too good at what she does. This was very creepy. I would have probably placed it in more of a light horror collection than a fantasy collection, but I'm a fan of both, so I enjoyed it.
"Poison" by Bruce McAllister--4 stars--A boy's cat is poisoned and he blames the "witch" who lives next door. But it's always easier to blame people when we don't know their stories. This one was pretty creepy also.
"Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast" by Mark Chadbourn--4 stars--Queen Elizabeth I's favorite poet is in love with the imprisoned Queen of the Fairies, causing more trouble between the two worlds. I like fairies and historical fiction. This combination worked well.
"Under the Bottom of the Lake" by Jeffrey Ford--3 stars--The author writes about the thoughts a writer has as he tells the story of a story that has never been heard, housed in a rose-colored bubble under the bottom of the lake. I liked the form, but the story within the story didn't do much for me.
"A Diorama of the Infernal Regions, or the Devil's Ninth Question" by Andy Duncan--3 stars--A foundling girl growing up in a sort of freak show runs away into the world on the back side of the show's "Diorama of the Infernal Regions." She finds many wonderful things there, from ghosts to the devil's son-in-law to her own true nature. I think the problem with this story was that there was enough within it to make a really good novel. It was just frustrating as a short story.
"Don't Ask" by M. Rickert--1 star--The sons of a town are kidnapped by the wolves. When the sons eventually come back, they are not the same sons who left. The townspeople want someone to blame. All I can say about this is that I didn't like it. The introduction points out that the story is probably actually about war and compares it to "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. I didn't like that when I had to read it in high school either.
"The Stranger's Hands" by Tad Williams--4 stars--Two strangers wander into the woods close to a little village and set up camp there. The villagers eventually discover that the big, silent stranger can sometimes grant a person's heart's desire. His fame spreads throughout the land. Again, this was my kind of fantasy, good vs evil, magic, the whole works.
"Soul Case" by Nalo Hopkins--2 stars--A little village defends itself from an advancing army with the help of three witches. But there is always a price to be paid. The biggest factor in deciding whether I like what I read is plot. There wasn't much actual plot to this story. Someone who like ideas more would probably enjoy it.
"Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again" by Garth Nix--4 stars--The two main characters travel around as mercenaries, but there's more to their quest than meets the eye. More high fantasy with magic, gods, swordplay, and mysterious quests. My kind of story.
"Debatable Lands" by Liz Williams--2 stars--A warrior sees a terrifying star-beast as his quest. Trouble follows. This was a fantasy/science fiction hybrid. I'm not that into science fiction, and the plot was a little vague. It just wasn't for me.
"The Forest" by Laird Barron--2 stars--A cinematographer goes to visit his old entomologist friend and an old flame. There's not much more to say without giving away anything. It was just too much of an "end of the world as we know it" kind of story.
"The Great White Bed" by Don Webb--2 stars--How would you like to be read by a book? That's what happens to a 13-year-old boy one summer when he's taking care of his increasingly-senile grandfather. Uber-creepy. I didn't like it.
"Dance of Shadows" by Fred Chappell--4 stars--In a world where shadows are collected like artwork, a master of collecting is hired by a master collector to find the person who cast the most exquisite shadow in his collection. A little mystery mixed in with some high fantasy. I liked it. I'll probably look for more of Chappell's work.
"Grander Than the Sea" by T.A. Pratt--5 stars--In the hidden wizarding world, there's an asylum for insane sorcerors. One of the sorcerors asks to see the city's guardian, Marla Mason, a woman whose existence he shouldn't even be aware of. She meets with him and learns of a plot to destroy "the world as we know it." This one was actually pretty funny. I'll be looking for Pratt's books also.
"Princess Lucinda and the Hound of the Moon" by Theodora Goss--5 stars--The other one of my two favorite stories in this collection. Princess Lucinda isn't exactly happy as a princess. Strange events occur that do lead to her happiness. I love Neil Gaiman's Stardust. This had that same sort of fairytale feeling without all the sugar....more
I read this for A Christmas Carol but decided to read the rest and see what else Dickens had to say about Christmas. There were a few other little gemI read this for A Christmas Carol but decided to read the rest and see what else Dickens had to say about Christmas. There were a few other little gems, although none were as good as A Christmas Carol, but there were some that I didn't like at all.
A Christmas Carol was a 4 star book for me. It was entertaining, Dickens made his point pretty quickly, and it was actually kind of funny. That surprised me. I loved this part: "Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of inronmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail." I'm glad I read this, but at the same time, I can't help but feel that if you've seen one of the many, many movies, you know what the book is about. There is very little in the book that doesn't make it into the movies. Read it if you're curious, but don't feel you're missing out on anything if you don't.
"The Chimes"--2 stars--This was similar to A Christmas Carol, but this time a poor man is shown how much worse the world could be. There aren't any little flashes of humor, the book got very preachy, it was too melodramatic, and I was left wondering why Trotty, the main character, is going through all this when he's surrounded by rich jerks who really need to be taught a lesson. I did like this quote though: "There's nothing more regular in its coming round than dinner-time, and nothing less regular in its coming round than dinner." Overall, I felt like Dickens was trying to re-do what he'd already gotten right the first time around with A Christmas Carol. I would give this one a pass.
"The Cricket on the Hearth"--4 stars--An older man is given reason to doubt the fidelity of his younger wife. This was a nice, happy little story. It didn't have much to do with Christmas, but I enjoyed it. Here's my favorite quote from this one: "And the fact is, that the kettle began it, at least five minutes before the Cricket gave any sign of being in existence. Contradict me, and I'll say ten."
"The Haunted Man"--3 stars--An unhappy man sort of makes a "deal with the devil" to forget all his troubles and wrongs and all the associated memories. He spreads this "gift" to everyone else he comes into contact with. He realizes that memories of trouble help make us compassionate and the good in our memories outweighs the bad. This story was decent. Not anything great, but decent. The family of the Tetterbys was funny. One lady at the end gets all Sally Field, "You like me! You really like me!" That sort of cracked me up in that context.
"A Christmas-Tree"--3 stars--This just felt like an essay on Dickens's Christmas memories. He remembers toys and books he got for Christmas when he was younger, ghost stories told, and the true meaning of Christmas. This also felt like a journal entry in that it seemed to be something that would really only be relevant to the writer. It was fun to recognize some of the books and stories that he mentions, but mostly the language was dense, it was hard to read and understand, and I thought it was boring.
"What Christmas Is As We Grow Older"--3 stars--This one also feels like an essay or editorial. He reflects on how dreams from our youth seem almost real and how the memories of our lost loved one become sweeter. The language in this one is very high-flown, dense, overwrought, and hard to wade through. The good part is that it's short.
"The Poor Relation's Story"--3 stars--A poor relation tells about what his life has really been like. I didn't really get this one at all. I think it was something about rising above our circumstances and maybe even not letting dreams die. I don't know.
"The Seven Poor Travellers"--3 stars--A rich man provides a nice dinner for some poor travellers on Christmas Eve and tells them a story. The story is one of redemption and forgiveness, which I'm always a sucker for. That was probably what saved this story for me. The framework for the story is boring and pointless.
"The Holly-Tree"--2 stars--A man gets snow bound at The Holly-Tree Inn and reflects on other inns he's stayed at in the past to pass the time. This was a big, jumbled mess of three unrelated stories in one. None of the stories had anything to do with each other that I could see. One of the stories was cute by itself. It was also kind of fun to read an early version of what sounded like Sweeney Todd.
"Doctor Marigold"--4 stars--A man writes about his life as an early version of a travelling salesman, his wife, and his daughters. This one was very good. I enjoyed reading it. I liked the voice Dickens used for this narrator. He really sounded like a fast-talking salesman. I recommend this one.
Overall, this edition was hit-or-miss, but if you're in the mood for some Dickens at Christmas, there are a few of these stories I would recommend. ...more
Warning! This review will be incredibly long because I find it impossible to review a collection of short stories without reviewing each story. Feel fWarning! This review will be incredibly long because I find it impossible to review a collection of short stories without reviewing each story. Feel free to move along.
Overall, this was not a typical Stephen King short story collection. His short stories generally give me nightmares. There were a few horror stories in here, but really he was exploring the post-9/11 world, grief, loss, and the afterlife. Some of his efforts were more successful than others, but the ones that worked really worked for me.
"Willa"--3 stars--A young couple on their way to San Francisco are waiting at a train depot for another train after theirs derails. This story was just sort of eerie. King is so great at setting a mood that you realize right away that something's not quite right, but mostly this story just felt like page filler.
"The Gingerbread Girl"--5 stars--A young woman runs to escape her grief, and then a nightmare. This one was straight-up suspense. I found my shoulders tensed and my body hunched over as I read this one. It's amazing to me that an author can do that in so few pages.
"Harvey's Dream"--3 stars--A man on the brink of retirement tells his wife about a terrible dream he had the night before. It was well-written, but I just didn't care.
"Rest Stop"--4 stars--A mild mystery writer overhears a disturbing argument at a rest stop late one night and must decide what to do about it. This one left me wondering what I would do in his shoes. There's some exploration of the hidden depths we carry around inside that we hope we never tap into. A good "makes-you-think" story.
"Stationary Bike"--A man creates more than he thinks when he paints himself a picture to help pass the time as he rides his stationary bike. I had no idea where this was going. And who can't relate to the mind-numbing boredom of an exercise machine?
"The Things They Left Behind"--5 stars--My favorite story from this book. A man who should have died along with the rest of his office on 9/11 suddenly finds objects in his apartment that he associates with his co-workers. This was a quietly powerful story that had much more going on than meets the eye. It read like a good exploration of survivor's guilt. Don't dismiss this one as "just another Stephen King story." This one's Literature. I actually pulled some good quotes out of this one: "Obliqueness is the curse of the reading class." "They did it in the name of God, but there is no God. If there was a God, Mr. Staley, He would have struck them dead in their boarding lounges with their boarding passes in their hand, but no God did. They called for passengers to get on and those fucks just got on." If we're being honest, who among us didn't feel that, at least for a second, on that day?
"Graduation Afternoon"--4 stars--The unthinkable happens in New York City. This was probably one of the most truly scary stories in the book. Before 9/11, this would have just been a fantasty/horror story. Post-9/11, I think deep down we're all waiting for this to actually happen, at least in our darkest, most pessimistic hours.
"N."--4 stars--A psychiatrist leaves behind notes on a delusional patient. King mentions the story, "The Yellow Wallpaper" in this story. That "descending-into-madness-with-the-character" feeling seems to be what he was going for, but he didn't accomplish it like Charlotte Perkins Gilman did. This was supposed to be a horror tale, but I somehow never quite got there. The fantasy world was never very real to me. I don't know if that's because King's writing fell short or because my imagination is not the equal of his.
"The Cat From Hell"--4 stars--The title describes the plot. This was an absurd, but at the same time scary, story. It reminded me of that Chattering Teeth story he wrote in an earlier collection in that I wanted to laugh at the same time that I was freaked out.
"The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates"--3 stars--A woman receives a phone call from her husband--as she's dressing for his funeral. This was another one where all I have to say is that I really didn't care.
"Mute"--3 stars--A man whose life has just fallen apart picks up a deaf/mute hitchhiker and feels safe confessing all his troubles. I found this one pretty predictable. But here's a quote that made me giggle: "He pointed toward the silhouettes on the side of the [bathrooms] instead--black cutout man, black cutout woman. The man had his legs apart, the woman had hers together. Pretty much the story of the human race in sign language."
"Ayana"--3 stars--All I'm going to say about this one is "The Green Mile revisited." It might have been more interesting if I hadn't read the novel first. There was a good quote in here too though: "The medical definition of miracle is misdiagnosis."
"A Very Tight Place"--4 stars--Two neighbors are feuding over a piece of land in the Florida Keys. One of them decides to end the feud once and for all. This one was a good, old-fashioned, Stephen King gross-out. Don't read it if you have a weak stomach....more
This book is the one that Hermione inherited from Dumbledore. It contains the "Tale of the Three Brothers" that was told in Harry Potter and the DeathThis book is the one that Hermione inherited from Dumbledore. It contains the "Tale of the Three Brothers" that was told in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It also contains notes about each story written by Dumbledore and J.K. Rowling.
I'll be honest here. True, morbid, Brothers Grimm fairy tales are just not my thing. I much prefer the fully fleshed out, happily ever after Disney versions. So, this book was just okay for me. Rowling did a good job of staying true to the form of real fairy tales, I have to give her that. It just wasn't for me. They were mostly mildly entertaining. I liked that Rowling points out that the heroines of her stories are not helpless females that things just happen to while big strong men rescue them. Her heroines rescue themselves. Dumbledore's comments did add some insight. Some of Rowling's comments felt unnecessary. This book is aimed at Harry Potter fans. What true Harry Potter fan doesn't know what a Muggle or a Squib is? But then some comments could have been explained further. I would have liked to be told about an Ashwinder instead of being referred to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. That happened several times and felt like an attempt to push up sales of that book.
This doesn't really have anything to do with anything, but I loved the feel of this book. It's such a nice, neat little book and the pages feel so smooth! Call me weird. I know.
I don't regret reading this, but I don't feel like I gained much from it either. I did like that the proceeds from the book are being donated to a children's charity that Rowling co-founded. That's really probably justification enough for me....more