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)
Laurent Jammett is a French trapper living in a little Canadian community in 1867. He mostly keeps to himself, so everyone is surprised when his neigh...moreLaurent Jammett is a French trapper living in a little Canadian community in 1867. He mostly keeps to himself, so everyone is surprised when his neighbor, Mrs. Ross, finds him murdered. Since he worked for them occasionally, the Hudson Bay Company is called in to investigate. When the Hudson Bay officials find out that Mrs. Ross's teenage son vanished around the same time that Jammett was killed, they're naturally curious and start looking for him. Mrs. Ross is worried too and sets out to find her son first and prove his innocence.
There is so much more to this book than I could write in the synopsis without spoiling anything. It's much more than just a murder mystery. In fact, the mystery felt sort of secondary to me. I was more interested in reading what I can only call the mini character studies. The story is told from many shifting points of view, but it works. I was never confused as to who I was following in each chapter. That's probably because the story only follows one character in the first person point of view--Mrs. Ross. So, in addition to furthering the mystery, we get to read a little about many different characters, how they think, what their lives have been like, etc. That was probably the most interesting part. I was left hungry for more backstory. I mostly mean that in a good way. Had every character's backstory been explored, the book would have been impossibly long. As it was, there were only a couple of loose ends that I really wish had been tied up that weren't. Not bad.
There is such a strong sense of place in this book that the setting could almost be a character in itself. The Canadian winter is written about so well that the whole book feels sort of cold, bleak, desolate, and harsh. It's a force that every character, good or bad, has to contend with. This was a perfect read for December.
The mystery seemed a little weak to me. I felt like the author had been pointing at who did it all along, the only thing I wasn't too sure of was why. That was explained, but by then there were so many other things going on that I didn't really care.
Here's my favorite quote: "He smiled to show he meant no offense, but Scott takes offense like it is going out of fashion, and bristled." I think that stood out to me because it struck me as funny in a book that really wasn't. Also, I just like that line, and I'll probably start throwing it around in conversation. "He takes offense like it's going out of style." I can definitely see myself saying that.
Overall, I recommend it, especially if you've got a cold, snowy day and time to sit inside under a blanket a read.(less)
It's impossible (for me, anyway) to read a forensic mystery without comparing it to the Scarpetta novels. This one was awesome! I haven't read a foren...moreIt's impossible (for me, anyway) to read a forensic mystery without comparing it to the Scarpetta novels. This one was awesome! I haven't read a forensic science mystery this good since the early Scarpettas!
These novels are the basis for the TV series, "Bones." I've never watched that show, so I didn't come into this with any expectations and I can't compare the book to the show. But the book by itself was really good. This is the first in a series featuring Dr. Temperance Brennan. She's a forensic anthropologist who has just relocated full-time to Montreal. The book opens with Tempe being called out to a scene to decide if bones found by city maintenance are old, archaeological-find-bones or new, current-crime-that-needs-to-be-investigated bones. To paraphrase the book, "Old bones don't smell."
The science in the book was fascinating and--I'm assuming because the author is herself a forensic anthropologist--authentic. The characters, especially Tempe, are well-drawn, complex, and interesting. The plot started out a little bit slow, but once it took off, I couldn't put it down. I took it with me to an optometrist visit and didn't even notice that I spent two hours in the doctor's office!
My only complaint is that some stuff seemed really obvious to me. Not everything, just some things, but they were kind of big things. I kept wondering, "Am I really supposed to have figured this out already for some reason? Or is Tempe really that clueless sometimes?" I am not a person who figures out Agatha Christie mysteries before Poirot reveals the solution. I read a mystery and I'm surprised at the end. For me to figure out something in a mystery before it's spelled out to me is very unusual. This didn't really take away from my enjoyment of the book. In fact, it was kind of nice to know something that the main character didn't for a change! This is Kathy Reichs' first book, so this could just be a beginner thing. Maybe it's fixed in later novels. Oh, and I thought the title was cheesy. It's explained toward the end of the book, but I still think it's cheesy.
I still highly recommend this to mystery fans, especially fans of Scarpetta and probably all those CSI shows. (less)
I thought this book was boring the first time I tried to read it, but I gave it another try a few years later and I loved it. Whenever anyone asks wha...moreI thought this book was boring the first time I tried to read it, but I gave it another try a few years later and I loved it. Whenever anyone asks what my favorite book is, this always comes to mind before I realize that I'm probably supposed to give an "adult" book for an answer. The characters are so likeable and all their adventures are believable. I always wished I could be friends with Anne and Diana.(less)
Everything goes so wrong for Pat for so long that I never really got over it. This is L.M. Montgomery, though, so you know everything works out in the...moreEverything goes so wrong for Pat for so long that I never really got over it. This is L.M. Montgomery, though, so you know everything works out in the end.(less)
These stories are primarily ones that never saw the light of day after being published in magazines in Montgomery's lifetime. There's a reason for tha...moreThese stories are primarily ones that never saw the light of day after being published in magazines in Montgomery's lifetime. There's a reason for that. I love reading more about Anne and her world, but these are not my favorites.(less)