CHARLES DE LINT: SOMEPLACE TO BE FLYING - REVIEWS
From Booklist, January 1998
In many hands, the urban fantasy plot involving strange beings just around the corner fails dismally. It does not in the hands of the reliable, the inimitable de Lint. Photojournalist Lily hears rumors of "animal people" living in the slums and goes in search of the truth. That truth is an underground community of the First People (i.e., American Indians) - the trickster, the storyteller, and others. None of them are absolutely human any more (were they ever?), and although some have specific goals, others are just into mischief for the fun of it. Lily is quickly drawn into their various quests, with results as page-turning and intelligent as usual for de Lint, who clearly has no equal as an urban fantasist and very few equals among fantasists as a folklorist. First-rate.
American Library Association:
From Library Journal, January 1998:
A cab driver and a freelance photographer come together in the town of Newford to explore the existence of the mythical "animal people" and discover the hidden world that lurks just crossover fantasy that combines elements of magical realism with multicultural myths to illuminate the lives of his characters - the misfits and orphans of the modern world. De Lint's elegant prose and effective storytelling continue to transform the mundane into the magical at every turn. Highly recommended.
From Kirkus Reviews, December 1997:
[Plot summary, then]
All this is merely a hint of the delightful complexities to be found here: an enthralling blend of old European and Native American mythology, seamlessly worked into a modern setting and situation. De Lint's best so far.
From Locus, January 1998:
Charles de Lint has developed a strong and loyal readership for his urban fantasy novels, delivering a reliable cocktail of likeable characters, myth, folklore, and music set against a counter-culture background of one sort or another. Someplace to be Flying, set in the fictional city of Newford, is no exception.
The book opens in the Newford slums when Hank, a jazz-loving cab driver, stops to save a woman being violently assaulted in a dark side-street. When her assailant shoots him as he gets out of his cab, the scene changes. In a flurry of darkness and the sound of beating wings, two mysterious young women appear out of nowhere, killing the man and healing Hank's wound. It is a moment that will change the world for Hank and Lily, the woman he has stopped to save, forever. Slowly they are introduced to a world of magic which has always existed around them, unseen and unknown, one peopled by figures of myth and legend, where trickster Coyote and Raven are real, and where it is possible for a young woman to wish her twin sister out of existence.
No brief summary, however, will adequately describe this complicated novel. De Lint introduces his reader to a large, diverse cast of characters plus an entire mythological system he explains only incidentally, and moves those characters across a number of different stages through a number of different times. It's a story that begins with the birth of daughters to a country woman who has slept with one of the Corbae - sort of animal people who have been around since the creation of the world - and how she and her daughters are treated. It is also the story of how Raven loses the cauldron he used to create the world, and how it must be recovered. And it is the story of how a ragtag group of people living in a violent and rundown world create a community amongst themselves.
Charles de Lint's greatest strength, and also sometimes his greatest weakness, is his obvious love for his characters, and empathy for people generally. The characters in Someplace to be Flying, especially the delightful Crow Girls, are never less than engaging. Sometimes, though, it's hard not to feel that Newford is a little too clean, and people there are much too good. But then, he is showing us people living up to their potential, rather than down to it. And that is what makes de Lint's books rewarding.
Copyright © 2001 by Charles de Lint. All rights reserved worldwide.
Most recent update: January 20, 1998
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