Monday, February 2, 2015

The Very Best of Charles de Lint (Charles de Lint)

The Very Best of Charles de Lint
Charles de Lint
Tachyon Publishing
Fiction, Collection/Fantasy
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: From ancient stone circles to the modern-day city streets of Newford, from mischievous bodachs to predatory vampires, the noted fantasy author Charles de Lint collects several of his best-loved stories in this volume.

REVIEW: I've heard of de Lint's work for quite some time, but never got around to reading his stuff until I found this as a free Kindle download. At first, I found it a refreshing change of pace. He draws off older ideas of myth and magic, going back to fantasy's roots in faerie lore and fireside tales long before the forces they described were relegated to childish fancies. Even in his invented city of Newford and the internet-dwelling Wordwood, elder-day forces persist in the shadows, glimpsed only by those who know how to look - or are unlucky enough to cross their paths. Many of his characters return in multiple tales, crossing paths and weaving webs of friends and adventures that bind almost every tale in this collection to the same universe. And here, unfortunately, is where I found my initial excitement waning. Story after story, it becomes less like finding a new adventure and more like realizing I've wandered into a party where everyone knows each other except me. They trade tales about mutual acquaintances and shared experiences, laughing and sighing and reminiscing, while I can only stand awkwardly at the edge of the group and wonder why I came. de Lint also locks in on certain character types and themes that, after the fourth or fifth retelling (or revisit with the same character), grow numbing. Pretty much every woman in the book has been horrifically abused, and many are or have been homeless, usually while dealing with depression and/or mental illness - but it's not so bad, because that way they can connect with Old Magicks and be Real Artists, unlike the rest of us blind pretenders. (No, this isn't quite how it's put in the stories, but there's a strong undercurrent in most of his works that sure comes across this way.) The stories themselves are well written, even if some don't quite seem to conclude and they inexplicably drift between viewpoints mid-scene, and they could evoke a certain mythic grandeur that's been sadly lacking from many of my recent reading choices. In the end, though, I just got too tired of the repeating themes and the sense of being an outsider looking in.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Fifty-One Tales (Lord Dunsany) - My Review
The Celestial Omnibus and Other Stories (E. M. Forster) - My Review
Bedlam's Bard (Mercedes Lackey with Ellen Guon) - My Review

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