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Dreams Underfoot (thoughts)

June 18, 2008

I’ve read five books for the Once Upon a Time challenge, like I signed up for, but now I’m in a race to get all the reviews posted before Friday! lol After this one, all I have left is Odd and the Frost Giants, but that’s why I’ve been remiss in my more chatt-y type posts this week. Oh-and I keep forgetting to mention it! Nymeth’s Bookworms Carnival is up, and there’s a whole lotta fairy tale magic going on. Plus, if you leave a comment on every post in the carnival, you’re eligible to win a book (check out the details)! I’m avoiding this contest, because I Don’t Need More Books, but it’s so awesome of Nymeth to offer it. :) And now, on to a collection of what might be called modern faerie tales.

Once Upon a TimeSince I discovered Charles de Lint through last year’s Once Upon a Time challenge, it seemed only appropriate to include him in this one too! Funnily enough, I started last year at the end of his Newford series with Widdershins (and absolutely loved it), so now I’m going and starting at the beginning. According to de Lint’s website, Dreams Underfoot is the first in the series. And I’m so glad that this, my third de Lint, confirms that he’s one of my new favourite authors!

This is a large short story collection, all centered around Newford, but many of the same characters keep popping up, which is fun. The character that appears the most (in that, almost all the other ones are her friends) is Jilly Coppercorn. Of course, having read Widdershins, I knew Jilly in later life pretty well, but it was interesting to meet her at a younger age. Not to say she’s the center of most of the stories; just that you at least see her shadow from the corner of your eye in the most of them.

de Lint himselfRight, back to the collection. In nineteen stories, de Lint manages to explore all sorts of fantasy ideas, from Bigfoot (“That Explains Poland”) to a retelling of “The Little Mermaid” (“Our Lady of the Harbour”) to goblins (“The Stone Drum”) to time travel (“Timeskip” and “Paperjack”) on more. In case you haven’t heard of de Lint, he specialises in urban fantasy (the combination of modern, usually street-smart characters with traditional fantasy elements), Celtic folklore, and having characters who are very creative (artists, musicians, etc.). He also manages to make every single character feel like a real person, not to mention Newford itself feel like a real place. I find myself longing to go on a vacation there; fortunately, there are enough books set in the town that I can at least go on an imaginary one! Anyway, if you still secretly want to believe in faeries, or if you think music is essential to the soul, or if you love meeting vivid and dramatic characters, you should definitely read some Charles de Lint, and Dreams Underfoot would be a great place to start. Before I picked this up, I was in a bit of a fiction reading slump (no fiction lately had been able to suck me in), but this book gave me that magical “just one more page” feeling. I already have the second in his recommended reading order on hold!

Do you read urban fantasy? Who’s your favourite author?

Favourite Passages
Ellen carried a piece of string in her pocket, with four complicated knots tied into it, but not matter how often she undid one, she still had to wait for her winds like anyone else. She knew that strings to catch and call up the wind were only real in stories, but she liked thinking that maybe, just once, a bit of magic could tiptoe out of the tale and step into the real world. (“Uncle Dobbin’s Parrot Fair”)

…well, she was the kind of woman for whom the word petite had been coined. (“The Stone Drum”)

Too many men felt that one dance entitled them to ownership-for the night at least, if not forever-and neither of them felt like going through the ritual repartee that the whole business required. (“Freewheeling”)

“There’s stories and then there’s stories,” he said, interrupting her. “The ones with any worth change your life forever, perhaps only in a small way, but once you’ve heard them, they are forever a part of you. You nurture them and pass them on and the giving only makes you feel better.
The others are just words on a page.” (“The Conjure Man”)

“Don’t talk to me about responsibility,” Matt said, breaking in. “Just because someone falls in love with you, it doesn’t mean you owe them anything. I’ve got no control over how other people feel about me-” (“Our Lady of the Harbour”)

I chose blue from the colors, bceause that was the closest to how I was feeling; he didn’t have colors like confused or lost or foolish. (“Paperjack”)

As far as I’m concerned, the only difference between fact and what most people call fiction is about fifteen pages in the dictionary. I’ve got such an open mind that Geordie says I’ve got a hole in it, but I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. It’s not so much that I’m gullible-though I’ve been called that and less charitable things in my time; it’s more that I’m willing to just suspend my disbelief until whatever I’m considering has been thoroughly debunked to my satisfaction. (“Tallulah”)

15 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2008 8:51 am

    I have yet to give de Lint a try, but I do have this one on the shelves. Quixotic suggested it to me as a good first read, and I immediately went out and bought it, but haven’t yet cracked it open. Sounds like I’m missing out!

  2. June 18, 2008 10:26 am

    I’ve read 3 deLints and I’ve loved every one of them! I really just want to read everything that he’s written. He’s an amazing author. The Blue Girl was set in Newford, but that’s the only Newford book I’ve read. I have a few Jilly books waiting for me, but I want to read this one first and you make me want to read it even more now! Can’t wait!

  3. June 18, 2008 11:25 am

    Neil Gaiman is my favorite urban fantasy author. My dad enjoys Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files). I haven’t tried Charles DeLint, though. I’ll have to read him too (sigh).

  4. June 18, 2008 11:42 am

    I love DeLint. I saw him performing once with his wife; they did a reading and then a set. It was great!

  5. June 18, 2008 12:12 pm

    I like Alan Garner a lot. Not really sure if he’s urban fantasy, though. He could be “sometimes urban, sometimes suburban, sometimes rural fantasy.”

  6. June 18, 2008 1:28 pm

    My next de Lint will be The Little Country, which I mooched a while ago, but after that I’m getting this collection. I’m really looking forward to it!

    As for urban fantasy, hmm, I haven’t actually read all that much of it now that I think about it. I guess there’s Jonathan Carroll. I’ve only read two of his books, but I loved both.

    I know what you mean about not needing more books, lol. Thanks for spreading the word about the giveaway :)

  7. dfrucci permalink
    June 18, 2008 2:21 pm

    Never heard of him but he seems like an amazing author, yet another book I will pick up.

  8. June 19, 2008 8:16 am

    I really should give de Lint a go. He always ranks right up there with Tolkien on the Reader’s Best Of lists. Thanks for another thoughtful, juicy review!

  9. June 19, 2008 9:23 am

    I only finished two of the five I set out to read, but they were both great reads! Congrats on getting yours all read–hopefully I’ll finish some challenge this year!

  10. June 19, 2008 11:23 am

    I started with Widdershins too. Sounds like I should continue.

    De Lint plays every week at a local pub. I still haven’t gone around to say hi.

  11. June 20, 2008 6:52 am

    Yay, you got read your books for the challenge! One of these days I must try some books by Gaiman and De Lint. I keep hearing so much about these authors via book blogs so I know I’m missing out!

  12. June 20, 2008 9:02 am

    Debi, you should definitely start reading it soon! Maybe a story or two at at time…

    Chris, Jilly’s really loveable. :)

    Chartroose, oh Neil Gaiman! I bet you’d love de Lint.

    Melanie, I’m so jealous!

    Emily, your description of Garner had me rolling, lol. I’ll definitely look it up. :)

    Nymeth, ohhhh-The Little Country is my absolute favourite (of all three I’ve read, lol). I’ll look into Carroll.

    D.F.: I hope you enjoy him. :)

    Andi, yes you should!

    Danielle, thanks: I had to sub in a short children’s book to get it done, lol.

    Janet, that’s so cool! I’d pester him for an autograph, lol.

    Iliana, I’d be interested to know what you think of them, since they’re different from most of the books you read!

  13. June 20, 2008 4:18 pm

    I’ve never read any urban fantasy, and I don’t think I would be attracted to it based only on the name of the genre (I generally like fantasy, although I don’t read all that much of it, but I’m not so big on the urban part)… but this book sounds really good. His writing sounds delicious. I’m going to add this to my TBR list!

  14. June 22, 2008 8:17 pm

    Yaay!! another convert to De Lint!!! I’ve been reading him since oh, 1985, and I’ve met him, and his wife, they are lovely people. I love his Newford series, and I soo want to write my own variation in my own fictionalized town because of his books!! See my Can Book Challenge 2 Eh, as I’m reading ALL DE LINT for the challenge! (happy dance!)
    Emma Bull, Midori Snyder, and Will Shetterly, Delia Sherman were all published around the same time in the mid-1980s and started the urban fantasy genre. So if you like Charles, give them a try too :-)
    I don’t know if it’s my favourite part of fantasy genre, since I also like high fantasy and sword and sorcery and basically just about all fantasy so long as it is well-written!

  15. June 24, 2008 11:27 am

    Sarah, I was hesitant about the ‘urban’ part too, but now I prefer it to high fantasy (which I loved in high school). :)

    Susan, I saw you doing all de Lint for your Canadian challenge! I’d totally join you, but I’m feeling over-committed at the moment, so the thought of even one more challenge makes me hyperventilate. :) Thanks for letting me know about those other authors! I used to love high fantasy, but I haven’t read any for years. I’m sure I’ll get back into it eventually though!

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