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Moonlight and Vines
Charles de Lint
Tor Orb, 384 pages

Charles de Lint
Charles de Lint has been writing urban fantasy, mixing elements of Native American and Celtic folklore, for a long time. Many of his earlier stories, such as Moonheart, Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon (both later republished together as Jack of Kinrowan), Ascian in Rose, Westlin Wind and Ghostwood (later collected and republished as the single volume Spiritwalk) explored this, using the city of Ottawa as a backdrop. The fictional city of Newford became the stage for novellas such as "Ghosts of Wind and Shadows", "Our Lady of the Harbour", "The Wishing Well", The Dreaming Place; short story collections such as Dreams Underfoot and The Ivory and the Horn; and novels such as Memory and Dream, Trader, and Someplace to be Flying.

Charles de Lint Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Quicksilver & Shadow
SF Site Review: The Wild Wood
SF Site Review: Mulengro
SF Site Review: A Handful of Coppers
SF Site Review: The Onion Girl
SF Site Review: Forests of the Heart
SF Site Reading List: Charles de Lint
SF Site Review: Jack of Kinrowan
SF Site Review: Moonlight and Vines, A Newford Collection
SF Site Review: Someplace to be Flying

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

Moonlight and Vines I love Newford.

No, Really. The half-familiar streets of it where I'm sure I'd know my way around and the weird shadow lands that march alongside them, both. This really is one of those places that really exists somewhere, and I mean has a concrete reality outside the confines of book and story, or if it doesn't that it damn well ought to.

These are vintage Charles de Lint stories of people who get more out of their everyday reality in one hour of some enchanted day than most of the rest of us are capable of siphoning out of our humdrum lives in a year. These are the people who share their city with elemental spirits, with shapeshifters, with ghosts and with invisibles; with the shadows of their earlier selves; with gnomes and sprites and crow girls. They are not perfect people; most if not all of them are damaged in some fundamental way, through things that they wish they could remember and things that they wish they could forget. Their stories are not neat and sewn up and politely possessed of the traditional beginnings, muddles, and ends. These are lives, real lives, and it is for that reason that Charles de Lint is able to return to Newford again and again and pick up his characters understanding that they have lived and evolved since his last visit with them, and simply tell another story from the tapestry of their existence.

People just like any of us, really, except that we out here appear to be less likely than most to pick up a penny from the street and have it turn into a pennyman, or see a pair of crows come gently to ground in the shape of two strange and enchanting girls.

But all of this external magic, the gods and spirits and visions that slip in and out of the shadows in Newford's streets, is just a backdrop, albeit a magnificently spellbinding one, to de Lint's real stories -- which all involve what you might call internal magic, that ethereal elusive quality of what makes people grow and change. He can be poignant or funny or sometimes memorably both at once -- he can get hung up on detail (perhaps it doesn't matter so much when these stories stand alone, but when they're all together like this one does start wondering why everyone is wearing "combat boots"...) -- but his characters live in the cusp of change and deal with it every day of their lives. It is this that makes the Newford stories so fascinating to me -- the fact that I may not own the kind of magic that makes the spirit world visible to his people, but I can fully understand how such a gift could make pain bearable, a free gift acceptable without looking for strings, a joy shareable by the simple virtue of telling someone else about what makes you happy. Charles de Lint makes me believe in people. And that is the real magic of the Newford stories.

Many of the stories in Moonlight and Vines have appeared before in a number of different publications, with a couple or three that are original to this collection. Even if you've read all of the earlier ones before, this is a book worth picking up -- particularly if you've ever found yourself, like me, battling déjà vû while wandering the streets of Charles de Lint's Newford in your mind.

Copyright © 2006 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves." When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Her international success, The Secrets of Jin Shei, has been translated into ten languages worldwide, and its follow-up, Embers of Heaven, is coming out in 2006. She is also the author of the fantasy duology The Hidden Queen and Changer of Days, and is currently working on a new YA trilogy to be released in the winter of 2006.

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