Rachel Sorenson has just escaped an abusive marriage, but she's still not free of her ex-husband. Frank comes along every few nights, talks his way pa...moreRachel Sorenson has just escaped an abusive marriage, but she's still not free of her ex-husband. Frank comes along every few nights, talks his way past the security guard at her apartment building, and goes upstairs to beat on her door and demand that she take him back. Police say they just don't have the manpower to guard her around the clock, so she's dealing with this largely on her own.
Little does she know that someone is watching her.
Harry Landon is a photographer obsessed with Beauty. Not subjective beauty in its many forms, but perfect, unblemished, divine Beauty. He thinks he's found his goddess in Rachel. He watches her through his telescope at all hours of the day and night. He takes pictures of her. He knows that the goddess resides within Rachel, and when he cuts her, Beauty will burst forth in a blaze of light.
This is one of Charles de Lint's pseudonym books--the books he wrote openly as Samuel Key as a signal that this book is darker than his normal fare. I didn't care for From a Whisper to a Scream, so I've never been too interested in picking this one up. I finally gave in and read it in my attempt to read the Newford books in order.
I was pleasantly surprised for the most part. This was a straight-up thriller that was rocketing along and ratcheting up the tension. It seems a little unlikely that one woman would have two stalkers at the same time, but once you let go of that, this was a genuine page-turner. Frank is a textbook study of the abusive husband. Harry is terrifying in his convoluted, violent logic. Events just keep snowballing until the tension is almost unbearable.
Oh, and then.
It fell apart for me.
I almost threw my book across the room, I was so frustrated. I don't want to say anything about why, but it almost ruined the book for me. It had everything to do with some choices that were made, but it also had a little bit of what I like to call the Speed effect.
Have you ever seen that Keanu Reeves movie, Speed? You know how it should have ended at least 30 minutes before it actually did? That's what I'm talking about. If de Lint had just cut it a little shorter, this would have been a perfectly respectable thriller. But he didn't. And between the frustrating choices I mentioned above, and the cheat of an ending, I had to knock this back a full star.
Harry's meditations on Beauty got a little repetitive as well. I reasoned it away, thinking that the guy is obviously psychotic, so it makes sense that his thoughts would follow those well-worn paths, but it did get a little boring to read.
I like that de Lint chose to mention that Frank has a medical condition that causes him to act the way he does, but he never gave it a name. There's enough of a stigma attached to psychiatric disorders without authors inadvertently making it worse by seeming to imply that everyone with a particular mental illness is also a wife-beater.
I enjoyed watching Rachel get more confident and comfortable in her own skin. I always feel like de Lint does a great job portraying his female characters and Rachel is generally not an exception. Generally. She might not be my favorite, but she feels real and I understand where she's coming from.
I liked the way that de Lint worked so many women's issues into a book that really is a good thriller. Not only is there the abuse and the stalking, but there's the way that society views Rachel, as a victim who probably brought this on herself. Several characters talk about feminine beauty and the impossible ideal we are asked to live up to everyday, and the devastating consequences on our bodies and self-confidence. There are discussions about how women just have to be more careful in their day-to-day lives. A stroll home in the dark for a man can be a heart-pounding exercise in survival for a woman. There are even some career issues worked in, with some women being treated differently by their male bosses based on their looks. None of this took away from the action of the story, but it enriched it in a way that is reminiscent of de Lint's overall body of work. There's the story, and there's what you take away from the story. They both add to each other.
I don't regret reading this, I just wish that I could have read a version with an alternate ending. If you think you can overlook that, go ahead and give it a try. It really is a good book.(less)
In the author's note at the beginning of this volume of short stories, Charles de Lint says that he's taking a break from Newford for a while but that...moreIn the author's note at the beginning of this volume of short stories, Charles de Lint says that he's taking a break from Newford for a while but that he still has enough short stories lying around to publish one more collection. I read that and my heart stopped for a second. I love Newford and all the characters in it! They have become my fictional friends over the years! The logical part of my brain can understand though. He's written 20+ novels and short story collections set in Newford, and if I were de Lint, I would probably have gotten tired of it and moved on long ago. My attention span just isn't that long.
Maybe for that reason, this collection felt a bit like goodbye. There were so many stories that paid visits to old friends from other stories and novels. It almost felt like I was being allowed one last peek into their world to show me that they're doing just fine and that they'll continue to be just fine in that world where unwritten stories live. They'll live on as long as loyal fans like me continue re-reading and new fans fall in love with the characters in their turn. I might not be happy about a break from Newford, but I'm happy with where everyone is.(less)
This is a collection of short stories that de Lint wrote to accompany dolls that his wife made as gifts for the children they knew. Pictures of the do...moreThis is a collection of short stories that de Lint wrote to accompany dolls that his wife made as gifts for the children they knew. Pictures of the dolls accompany each story. Think Wendy Froud's A Midsummer Night's Faery Tale on a much smaller, humbler scale. de Lint's book is a slim volume, but it's big on whimsy and charm. Each story has a dark moment, as true fairy tales do, but they end on a happy note, with the characters having learned something about the value of friendship or the power of imagination. Dedicated fans of de Lint will be thrilled to see a cameo appearance from one of Newford's own as a child.
The editor residing in my head is making me say that the book could have used some better editing. The reader in my heart thinks the book might have lost some charm if it had been too polished.
Overall, the collection honestly isn't all that original, but it did charm me. This is probably more of a collector's edition for de Lint fans; I don't think he's going to win over any new fans with this little book. But fans will be pleased to add it to their collections.(less)
Max Trader is a luthier who wakes up one morning in a body not his own. After the initial panic and a little further investigation, Trader finds out t...moreMax Trader is a luthier who wakes up one morning in a body not his own. After the initial panic and a little further investigation, Trader finds out that charming, womanizing rake, Johnny Devlin, has wished for a different life and somehow they have traded bodies. Devlin has no intention of trying to switch back. He gets a fresh start while Trader tries to navigate his way through the wreckage of Johnny's life. While learning about Johnny, though, Devlin learns a few things about his own life and how he needs to start living as large as trees, to paraphrase.
Characters, characters, characters. What draws me to Charles de Lint are his characters, and he did not disappoint with this one. Trader is a mild-mannered kind of guy, mostly forgettable except for his talent, but he's willing to learn from this unbelievable experience he has. He learns to live his life to the fullest and not take a single day for granted.
So that one's obvious. What makes this a de Lint book is that even the secondary characters grow and learn and change. Trader and Devlin's switch is like a stone thrown into a still pond: the effects ripple out in ways that you don't see coming. Even minor characters learn self-acceptance, the value of having your own life outside of a relationship, acceptance of others, forgiveness, open-mindedness and all kinds of Important Life Lessons. I've loaned out my copy already or I would throw out a couple of quotes that sum all of this up much better than I can. Expect to see a revised version of this review when I get my copy back.
Finally got it back!
"The thing to do is to be happy with yourself, with what's in your own life; then if a relationship comes along it's a bonus, something to enjoy instead of the thing your life revolves around."
"Look inside yourself for the answers--you're the only one who knows what's best for you. Everybody else is only guessing."
What kept this from being five stars are two of the characters who actually grow the most. They were the whiniest women I have read about in a long time. Oh, they felt real alright. I know plenty of women who moan on and on and on about their boyfriends, the lack of, or the fact that they need a life apart from. They are not women I want to spend time with, either in books or in real life. I have very little tolerance for that kind of thing. It's an important lesson to get out there, but spare me. Please.
What's a little unusual about this novel is that there isn't really a bad guy. Devlin's not anyone's idea of a nice guy, but the real antagonists are apathy, inertia, missed opportunities, wasted talent, and a lack of self-awareness. Devlin's actually sort of the poster child for the "wherever you go, there you are" theme running through the book. He gets a new life, but he's unwilling to change and makes the same old mistakes all over again.
This falls pretty early in the Newford books, which I will still maintain that you don't have to read in order, but it was pretty cool to go back and read an early book and see how the regulars were doing back then. I finally know who Tanya is and how she and Geordie meet, and I finally realize that there are hints of Jilly's The Onion Girl (Newford, Book 11) trials this early.
On a side note, I adore the cover art that John Jude Palancar creates for de Lint's books.
Anyway, this is a great example of why Charles de Lint is my favorite author. He tells a great story with an important message without being preachy, all while creating characters who honestly feel like old friends to me at this point. Reading this one has given me the urge to go on a Newford re-reading binge. Highly recommended.(less)
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...moreCharles 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 take the form of organized religion. He incorporates the best elements from many different religions and mythologies to build a story that most people can relate to. This book has a great love story, but the point is really to explore faith, grace, and having the courage to let go.
The biggest thing that I love about de Lint is his characters. Within a few pages, his characters feel like old friends. Grace is no exception. Tough, tattoo-covered, hot-rod building Grace is easy to pigeonhole. But there are many surprising sides to her personality, and she quickly became a character I won't forget. But what makes his characters stand out to me are the way they interact with each other and the world. They usually have some of their own serious issues, but they also generally seem to believe that, while they might not be able to single-handedly change the world, they can change their parts of it. They live to try to ease the way for others they encounter. They understand that life is hard enough without people beating each other down. We should build each other up. De Lint got all of that into this book too.
Most of my favorite books by this author are set in the fictional city of Newford, with some recurring characters throughout. I was initially a little disappointed that this wasn't a Newford book, and that I wouldn't get to check in on Jilly and Geordie and friends, but I quickly got over that. This still wasn't my very favorite book of his, but this was definitely one of my favorites.
In all honestly, the story was probably 4 stars. But the ideas behind the book are 5 stars. I love this guy, I loved this book, and I can't recommend either highly enough.(less)
Miguel is working in his dad's comic book/record store one afternoon when a girl he doesn't know wonders in. Lainey is beautiful, with a sense of humo...moreMiguel is working in his dad's comic book/record store one afternoon when a girl he doesn't know wonders in. Lainey is beautiful, with a sense of humor, intelligence, an Australian accent, red-gold hair, and a matching dog--excuse me, dingo. The two hit it off immediately, but weird things start to happen--and it all seems to center around the dingo.
I love, love, love Charles de Lint's books. I'm just starting to wish that he would get away from writing young adult books. They're probably a good introduction to this wonderful author for young fantasy fans, but I know de Lint can write stuff that is so much better. There's not really anything technically wrong with this. If I were a 14-year-old girl, I would probably adore it. But I'm not 14 anymore (thank goodness!) and I'm really missing the Charles de Lint characters I fell in love with a long time ago.
If you're a fan of Charles de Lint, go ahead and read this. You might even want to buy it for any young fans of fantasy you know. But please don't start with this one if you're an adult wanting to see what Charles de Lint is all about. Start with Someplace to be Flying or The Onion Girl instead. (less)
Promises to Keep is a novella about everyone's favorite Newford artist, Jilly Coppercorn. But this time we're seeing Jilly whe...moreThis is Charles de Lint.
Promises to Keep is a novella about everyone's favorite Newford artist, Jilly Coppercorn. But this time we're seeing Jilly when she's fresh off the streets and getting started as a student at Butler University. The transition isn't easy, especially when Jilly's best friend from her street days shows up with an offer Jilly finds hard to refuse.
Apparently this started out as a short story about Jilly, but it grew into this little book. I devoured it in a few hours.
I really enjoyed it. I liked seeing Jilly when she was so young and just learning to be "relentlessly cheerful" and how to open up and make new friends. I also liked reading about Jilly's first meetings with Geordie, Sophie, and Wendy.
If you like Charles de Lint, especially if you like his short stories (this little book does keep the feel of a short story), read this one for sure. If you're just looking for some fantasy that's not too out-of-this world, with some really good characterization as a bonus, read this one. You won't be disappointed.(less)
Let me first say that I love, love, love reading Charles de Lint. Let me also say that I'm probably 15 years older than the target audience for this b...moreLet me first say that I love, love, love reading Charles de Lint. Let me also say that I'm probably 15 years older than the target audience for this book.
That being said, this was my least favorite of the de Lint books I've read. This is a young adult book about a girl named TJ and how she befriends a "Little" named Elizabeth. For those of you familiar with Mary Norton's The Borrowers (which I adored), Littles are basically Borrowers. For the rest of you, Elizabeth is a 6-inch tall punky girl who Elizabeth finds living in the walls of her bedroom. The book is about their growing friendship and the way each girl finally learns to accept herself.
Charles de Lint didn't really seem to be sure where he was going with the story. First we're on one quest, then, suddenly, a different quest, and then we finally ended up in a place that I didn't really see coming, but that was still somehow predictable. The dialog did not feel real to me. But maybe it was. I can't say that I bother with staying current on the current teen slang, but it felt way too forced and unnatural when I was reading it.
Read this if you're already a fan of Charles de Lint, but if you're trying him out for the first time, please try a different one first. This is not a good representation of what he can do with a story.(less)
Dreams Underfoot introduced readers to de Lint's fictional city of Newford. Magic is on the streets of Ne...more"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.(less)
Ash is a teenage girl who is angry at the world. Angry at her mom for dying and leaving her alone. Angry at her dad for refusing to take...moreJune 14, 2011
Ash is a teenage girl who is angry at the world. Angry at her mom for dying and leaving her alone. Angry at her dad for refusing to take her in. And especially angry at her cousin Nina for having everything.
That kind of anger inevitably draws attention. The problem is, the spirit who first noticed Ash's anger is now focused on Nina. Can Ash figure out what is going on and find it in her heart to save her cousin?
This has always been one of my least favorite of de Lint's books. Much as I love his work, I'm usually disappointed in his young adult novels. I love his books for his characters and I never relate to the teens very well. I don't know if it's just me or if he truly doesn't develop them as well. In this case, Ash is a pretty typical troubled teen and Nina is a pretty typical goody-two-shoes. So maybe it is him...
Anyway, there's nothing terribly new here, although it was nice to come across the first references to Cassie and Bones. The underlying hope and faith in human decency that I consider another hallmark of de Lint are also here. The world can always use more stories about forgiveness, love, and the power to change for the better, right?
I wouldn't recommend this to a new de Lint reader, but fans should definitely read it.
This is one of de Lint's more Native American novels. It's full of teenage angst, but it is more of a young adult novel. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more when I was at that age myself.(less)