Nov 18, 08
Read in November, 2008
I didn't like this one nearly as much as de Lint's other books, possibly because it was an early novel. The characters feel very caricature-like, and changes are generally discrete jumps in specific areas. It was closer to horror than fantasy in places, and the narrative was broken by long rants about neo-pagan and magickal theory, quoting Crowley and other famous believers in magick. And it featured a serial killer, who was as one-dimensional as everyone else, and who I really just wanted to get offscreen.
Still, I'll give it a 3 for good ideas, some likable characters, and far beyond everything else, a truly appealing and realistic-feeling view of Cornwall, which I knew very little about before reading the book. About halfway through I was determined to give it a 2, but by the end I had drifted back to 3. :)
The story, by the way, is actually an interweaving of two stories -- each affecting the other in ways that become clear at the end of the book. In one, set in the modern day, Janey Little discovers the single copy of an unknown book in her attic, and opening it seems to bring bizarre events and murderous enemies to her hometown of Mousehole in Cornwall. In the other, set around 100 years ago, a girl named Jodi gets curious about a local witch and sneaks into her house, only to be transformed into a Small (a mouse-sized person) by the witch, unleashing a flood of magical events that overwhelm the town (also in Cornwall). I think de Lint just had too much he wanted to say, and hadn't yet learned to pace himself and be a bit more subtle (yes, compared to this, his other work is subtle!)