In Jack the Giant Killer, the first of two novellas in this book, Jacky Rowan has just realized that her life is not going where she wants it to go. S...moreIn Jack the Giant Killer, the first of two novellas in this book, Jacky Rowan has just realized that her life is not going where she wants it to go. She drifts along, refusing to take care of her life and just staying at home doing nothing. She decides to change her life after a nasty breakup. In a fit of pique, she goes out drinking alone. Staggering home, she sees a little man being chased by 9 men on motorcycles. She tries to help him, but the little man is killed. She runs to a nearby house to try to get help, but no one answers the door. She runs back to where the little man's body was, only to see it disappear, leaving behind only a red cap.
The next day, she almost convinces herself that the alcohol was just making her see things that weren't there, but she can't explain where she got the cap from. She puts it on and starts to see people straight out of Faerie. She eventually finds out that the Unseelie Court has been getting stronger and stronger and has actually stolen the local Laird's daughter. The Seelie Court is so weak that everyone is afraid to go in search of the poor girl. Jacky decides to just go looking herself. With a hob's stitcheries giving her invisibility and swiftness, the help of her best friend Kate, and a whole heap of a Jack's luck, Jacky sets out to set the local Faerie courts to rights.
I loved how Jack becomes Jacky in this story. Who says women can't be clever, lucky tricksters? She fills the role of Jack perfectly, coming up with ingenious solutions to problems and avoiding pitfalls in the tradition of the best fairy tales. I also loved how Jacky reached out and took control of her life. It obviously can be done, but it's usually easier to just keep going with the flow. It takes real bravery to make a real change.
What I have always loved about Charles de Lint is the way he weaves fantasy into modern life. Yeah, urban fantasy is common now, but de Lint was one of the earliest authors in the genre. Reading this for the first time years ago, I loved how urban Faerie have developed a tolerance for iron. And why wouldn't the Wild Hunt appear on Harleys? This is taking place in the 20th century after all. I just liked the idea that there is more to the world than meets the eye, and fairies are not fragile creatures who can only survive in the wilds. They would have to be adaptable.
I love Charles de Lint because of his characters. I can't say that Jacky and her friend Kate are some of my favorites, but I do love to read about their friendship. They are silly and brave and honest with each other, and neither would ever abandon the other.
The other novella, Drink Down the Moon, was not as strong for me. Jacky has gotten a little over-confident and makes some big mistakes. As a result, an evil force has wrought havoc on the wild faerie and has started causing big damage in her area of Faerie, Kinrowan. Kate is the true hero who realizes what's going on and starts acting on it.
There are two parallel plots throughout most of this story. I was most interested in Jacky and Kate's story. On a straight read, it gets a little old to read about the humans Johnny and Henk going through the same bewilderment that Jacky and Kate went through as they adapted to Faerie in Jack the Giant Killer. The books were published years apart and reprinted together later, so that's not entirely de Lint's fault.
The wild faeries that Johnny and Henk stumble onto are a little too belligerent and blood-thirsty for my taste. They have been through a lot, but it's not the humans' fault. I did like mercurial Jemi and her relationship with Johnny, but the rest were very angry and bitter.
So, 4 stars for Jack the Giant Killer and 3 stars for Drink Down the Moon. I'll round up to 4 because I love de Lint so much. His Newford books are still my favorites, but this was a very strong entry in his body of work. (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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
I'm a huge Charles de Lint fan. This was really as good as his other work, but I like Jilly so much that this was a little disappointing. He really pu...moreI'm a huge Charles de Lint fan. This was really as good as his other work, but I like Jilly so much that this was a little disappointing. He really puts her through the fire in this one.(less)
This is a good young adult novel. I didn't realize that was the target audience until I really got into it. Not as good as his "grown-up" work, but st...moreThis is a good young adult novel. I didn't realize that was the target audience until I really got into it. Not as good as his "grown-up" work, but still good.(less)
Izzy Copley is a college student majoring in art when she first meets world-famous artist Vincent Rushkin. She feels unworthy when he chooses to start...moreIzzy Copley is a college student majoring in art when she first meets world-famous artist Vincent Rushkin. She feels unworthy when he chooses to start teaching her his secrets.
There's a reason that he's so secretive. He has a nasty temper and he frequently lashes out at Izzy, both verbally and physically. She's so in awe of him that she lets him get away with it. He finally teaches her the real secret to his work. Each painting is like a doorway to another world, allowing the subject of the painting to take physical shape in our world and stroll around on our streets. Izzy is breathless at the thought. She's delighted when she sees figures that previously only existed in her imagination living their lives on the streets of Newford. And then Rushkin shows her exactly how monstrous he can be.
If I'm trying to be objective on this re-read, Memory and Dream is probably 4 to 4.5 stars. But for sheer nostalgia, I'm bumping it up to 5.
This was not my first de Lint book but it was definitely an early one. I was working at my little local library as a high school senior, re-shelving books, when I discovered him. The covers (all three that the library owned anyway) caught my eye so I took one home. I'm pretty sure Spiritwalk was the first. I think this was the second. And I can still see why I've been in love with de Lint's work ever since. A 16-17 year relationship. We're on the record books at this point!
I would consider this to be the first real Newford novel despite the fact that it's technically number five. The initial book, Dreams Underfoot, is a solid start but as a short story collection, it just teased me with wanting more. The next three books are darker than most of de Lint's other work and I consider them outliers. But then comes Memory and Dream.
On this ordered re-read I've undertaken, I am thoroughly enjoying re-visiting my favorite characters when they're so much younger. We've aged together. Crazy to say? Probably. But it feels true. Jilly is only on the fringe of things, as is usual for her, but I love seeing her as a struggling artist/college student painting in Professor Dapple's studio. Geordie barely shows up but he's there, providing the soundtrack in the end. There are a couple of more but my heart really belongs to Jilly and Geordie. I don't recall coming across Cosette in any other books but she reminds me of The Crow Girls and I love her for the association. I love her for herself too though.
Reminiscing aside, this truly is solid, absorbing fantasy. de Lint was one of the first urban fantasy authors and I found him more than ten years before I'd ever heard of the genre. I loved the way that he wove such magical stories into the fabric of what appears to be a generic North American city. For a country girl with no real desire to head to the big city, finding magic on the streets was remarkable. The city is where gangs are and murders and rapes and muggings happen. Yet here are these tales that have so much mystery and wonder in them. Don't get me wrong; there's plenty of darkness too. But it's easy for me to look wide-eyed at the magic and forget the rest.
The appeal of Memory & Dream is the same as it always is for me--the strong cast of characters. Within pages of starting a de Lint book, I feel like I've met new friends or I'm visiting with old ones. Isabelle is not really one of my favorite characters for a couple of reasons, but I still really like her and would like to be in her circle. She spends a little too much time dithering and re-writing events to suit herself but I do completely understand where she's coming from. When she's just being herself, she's intelligent and caring and fun and talented. I want her friends to be my friends. I want to see her paintings and catch a glimpse of her numena out of the corner of my eye. I want to know Cosette and Rosalind and Annie Nin. I want to experience the trustworthy solidness of John Sweetgrass. I want to catch a glimpse of the shy little treeskin, Paddyjack, as he creates his primitive art and music. I want to see leonine Grace in all her rampant beauty. de Lint's descriptions of these fantastic characters fires my imagination. I'm left pondering which figures from paintings I would like to see step out from their canvases. Which characters from books I might call forth and the conversations and fun we might have. That is the magic de Lint calls forth for me with this book. If you want a piece of the magic too, pick this up and give it a try. You won't view art of any kind in the same way ever again.(less)
This was really written under a pseudonym, and I can see why. It's really way too dark for me.
Re-read December 11, 2011
A serial killer has been viciou...moreThis was really written under a pseudonym, and I can see why. It's really way too dark for me.
Re-read December 11, 2011
A serial killer has been viciously murdering women in the Combat Zone, a seedy area of Newford. He makes a mistake when he kills a wealthy man's daughter, apparently mistaking her for one of the prostitutes he normally targets. There's a witness to this one too. He swears the killer stepped out of the side of a building and disappeared the same way.
Detective Thomas Morningstar has mostly left his Kickaha traditions behind on the rez. But something about these killers doesn't feel right, so he seeks help in the most unexpected of places.
And then there's Chelsea, a teen who's already experienced a lifetime of hurt. She's been told that her abusive father is dead, but she can still feel him out there. Searching for her. And she knows this time he won't stop until she's dead.
Still too dark for me. I do like horror, but this is a little too real. The so-called "horror" element doesn't feel real, but the abuse is the true horror. It's nothing gratuitous, but it is more graphic than I would like. Being inside the mind of a pedophile left me feeling dirty and more than a little disturbed. It's hard for me to read that kind of thing at any time, but especially when it involves children.
I miss that none of the Newford regulars showed up in this book. Part of what I love about the Newford books is spotting some of my favorite characters and finding out how they're doing. I know that sounds crazy, but after multiple re-reads of my favorites across 20+ books and at least 15 years, they really are old friends.
There are still some of de Lint's trademarks present here though. His good characters genuinely care about other people and try to help where they can. They step out on faith and work through bizarre happenings the best way they know how. I like the way different...spiritual? yes, probably the best word...traditions come together for the common good. And there are the characters who don't let the crappy hand they were dealt in their early years hold them back forever.
Sitting here, really thinking about it, that is probably the point of the book. People live worse things than this every day. I guess de Lint wanted to write about that darkness and point out that where there is darkness, there is always light if we just look for it.
I would not recommend this as an introduction to de Lint, but fans should pick it up as long as they think they can handle it. It does get awfully disturbing in between these pages.(less)
One of the first Charles de Lint novels I read. I've been hooked ever since. It's still one of my favorites. I think it's the combination of well-writ...moreOne of the first Charles de Lint novels I read. I've been hooked ever since. It's still one of my favorites. I think it's the combination of well-written fantasy, the coast of Cornwall, and all the music that makes this one so wonderful.(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)
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)
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)
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)