Alison's Reviews > The Mystery of Grace

The Mystery of Grace by Charles  de Lint
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's review
Oct 19, 09

really liked it
Read in July, 2009

A good weekend read. Not as complex or meaty as many of Mr. de Lint's other full-length novels, but entertaining with a unique plot and enough twists to keep things compelling.

Set in the American Southwest, in a world that's an intriguing mix of custom vintage cars, rockabilly music, taquerias and adobe house, The Mystery of Grace has a compelling plot. But that's all I can really say, because I'm not big on spoilers, and to describe the plot at all would be a spoiler. Even the book jacket very carefully doesn't give anything away (kudos to whoever wrote that blurb, by the way).

The author, who is a middle-aged Canadian Caucasian man writing with the voice of an American Latina in her early 20s, ought to get some kudos, too, just for attempting to pull that off. And, I think he did a decent job of getting the right words down for the world of old cars - at least, I think he did, since I'm not a mechanic myself - but he broke the spell a little by using the word "washroom" instead of "restroom" or "bathroom" or "lady's room;" "pop" instead of "soda" (I've never heard anyone in the West say "pop" unless they had just moved there from the Midwest); and "after university" instead of "after college" (I have never heard an American in any part of the country say "after university" unless they had just lived in England for a while). These may not seem that important, but they were jarring in context and broke the spell. He obviously put so much work and research into getting the specific words right in this book that the fact that he overlooked the American usage of everyday words somewhat marred the characters' legitimacy. Although, maybe Grace's Abuelo was from Detroit. She never does say, and all things are possible, right?

Other than the language complaint, which probably bothered me more than it should, and the fact that the book wasn't long enough to really, truly develop the secondary characters - usually, that isn't such a big deal, because he develops his characters over many short stories and novels, but for a standalone novel, they were a bit superficial and translucent - I really did love this book.

It's filled with the the dreamy, otherworldly quality that is almost always present in Charles de Lint's stories, which, more than anything else, is what gives his books their magic, and it ended too soon.
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