Warren Rochelle's Reviews > Wolf Moon

Wolf Moon by Charles de Lint
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Jul 08, 11

Read from July 04 to 06, 2011

I'm a Charles de Lint fan, but I have mostly read his novels set in Newford, his imagined Canadian city where the magical and the mundane intersect, where "ancient myths and magic spill into the modern world." Ghosts wander its streets, and the Gentry, who followed the Irish emigrants from the old country to the new, still cause trouble, and sometimes come into conflict with the magical beings already here, those associated with Native Americans. Music and art are often a part of this magic.

And this summer, as part of my research for my current novel-in-progress, The Werewolf and His Boy (the working title), I am reading a fair bit of fiction about werewolves of one kind or another. Which brings me to Wolf Moon, by Charles de Lint, a tale not set in Newford or in Canada, but rather in a kingdom far away, and once upon a time. There is music, a harper, and a magical being, little people, and a werewolf, a innkeeper's niece, and there is a love story, and a community--all vintage de Lint--and vintage fairytale--and ballad.

But--this is early de Lint, published in 1988, and there is the promise of the lyrical tales that come later. The "once upon a time" language is not as smooth as I am used to with de Lint's fiction. But the premise is sound. As he describes it:

"I remember thinking ... how so many high fantasy novels were BIG stories involving nations, worlds, races of men, and magical beings. I wanted to read a smaller story about more ordinary people--people whose destiny wasn't to save the world, but rather to make some sense out of their own small lives (which for each of us is the big story.

I also thought it would be fun to read a novel in which the noble, magical harper turned out to be a cad, while the fearsome, monstrous werewolf was actually a pretty nice guy. I suppose it was the beginning of my interest in writing about marginalized people--outsiders, if you will . . ."

So, we have the story of Kern, a werewolf, a shapechanger, scorned and cast out by his parents, his beloved--their love too easily transformed into hate--and on the road for a long time. He falls afould of Tuiloch, a harper who can call up monsters with his music, and is something of a monster himself. He has killed more than once. Kern escapes Tuiloch's monster-hunter and finds himself, after almost drowning, at the Inn of the Yellow Tinker and Ainsley and for the firs time since Kern was a child, a family, a home, and people who loved him and whom he loved.

Kern and Ainsley, the innkeeper's niece (and half-owner of the inn) fall in love. So, can he keep his true nature hidden? Should he? Kern begins to feel safe--then, the harper, who is still looking for Kern, comes to the valley.

I enjoyed reading Wolf Moon--and I added to my knowledge of werewolf lore. De Lint's later novels, like Forests of the Heart, The Ivory and the Horn, and Moonlight and Vines, are much stronger and more beautiful. But this isn't bad.

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