Library Journal 2002:
The 18 stories in de Lint's latest collection portray a modern world touched by magic of many kinds. Most of the stories take place in de Lint's fictional city of Newford, the setting for The Onion Girl and other novels. "The Witching Hour," original to the anthology, tells the macabre tale of a ghost's revenge on the serial killers who murdered her, while "Seven Wild Sisters," first published in a limited edition, is a magical story of some remarkable siblings who cross the border into the fairy world. Gracefully told and filled with unforgettable and convincing characters.
Booklist, American Library Association, 2002:
Whether you call them urban fantasy or magical realism, de Lint's collections of his stories grow heftier. You also have to call them good, and note that this time he moves some of them out of his customary setting, Newford, into the hill country around it, especially to the north. He also brings back a good many of his—and probably his readers'—favorite characters, such as the Crow Girls, and does everything with his usual clarity of language and lucid transfiguration of folklore and myth into fantasy tales.
Green Man Review, Nov. 2002:
There's nothing but great reading here—we encounter a Buffalo Man at the edge of death; Newford citizens who are fading away because no one notices them; the Dreaming Tree itself; a murderous ghost looking for long overdue revenge; a werewolf on his first blind date; and many more. Not surprisingly, we're reunited with Jilly, Geordie, Sophie, the Crow Girls, and many of the other characters who are an intrinsic part of the Newford reality.
Whatever you do, don't ask me to pick favorites, as I can't. Everything here is in one way or another memorable. I've long since come to expect that a de Lint tale will be well-worth reading. If you haven't read his Newford tales to now, this is the perfect introduction.
Challenging Destiny, Aug. 2003:
Newford is the imaginary place that has featured as the setting in de Lint's novels and short stories for over a decade now, and I can't think of any comparable accomplishment in fantasy. Perhaps the longevity of Newford in de Lint's writing can be attributable to its sophistication and grown-up qualities; by that I mean in comparison to other works in the fantasy genre that often seem comfortable in their black/white divisions and adolescent versions of human sexuality. There's no final battle between good and evil in Newford, just humans who get a taste of magic in their everyday lives; there's no sudden end for a juvenile character's romantic story because of a lack of imagination of what a real relationship might be like. Best of all, de Lint's writing has only improved over the years, and the stories in Tapping the Dream Tree are some of his smoothest and most polished. All in all, this is a very satisfying collection of short stories.
Tapping the Dream Tree, the fourth short story collection set in Newford, adds even more layers to an already rich and varied setting. Familiar faces return, deepening our kinship with Newford's magic-rich inhabitants and its free-spirited artistic community, and new characters add ever more diversity to a city we'd love to visit but can never find.
And Newford's mystical landscape continues to deepen as de Lint adds a detail here, a nuance there, sharpens his focus in some places while artfully obscuring the subject in others, presenting an overall picture that's almost too large to grasp.
The book is long and deep—this is not a light read for a lazy afternoon, but you'll find the hours passed in de Lint's Newford to be time well spent. It's a place you'll want to visit over and over again.
Kirkus, Sept. '02:
More urban fantasy set in and around de Lint's all-purpose North American city, Newford (The Onion Girl, 2001, etc.), but not, as the blurb seems to promise, a novel: 17 stories, one of considerable length, drawn from anthologies, 'zines, and chapbooks, 1998-2002, plus one, "The Witching Hour," original to this collection. As usual, a variety of dysfunctional characters fumble their way to new beginnings, helped or hindered by a familiar coterie of magical beings, musicians, writers, and artists-the Crow girls Zia and Maida; Jilly Coppercorn; Christy Riddell; Meran and Cerin Kellady, among others-not to mention trees (the Tree of the title; the witchy Bottle Tree; the Tree of Tales), creatures good or evil, the quick and the dead. Predatory werewolves and fallen angels scour the dark streets; ghosts and spirits lurk in abandoned tenements; tiny folk, once birds, yearn to regain their ancient forms; murderers get their comeuppance, though never in any expected fashion. Vicious pixies from the Internet emerge through a computer screen to wreak havoc in Holly Rue's secondhand bookstore and annoy its unsuspected tenant, a shy but valiant hobgoblin. In the dreamworld, the witch Granny Weather, captured by malevolent bogles, summons the aid of Sophie Etoile, in whose veins runs faerie blood. Need to learn how to make your dog capable of speech? Consult TheWordwood.com, a Web site in an imaginary city in a world reached only through dreams.
Newford may be an acquired taste, but if the lack of a new novel causes any disappointment, it will surely be assuaged by the quality and variety of the material here.
When de Lint's magic is working, his characters shine with folksy charisma (The Onion Girl; Moonheart), but a preponderance of the 18 stories in this collection have the familiar denizens of fictional Newford wandering passively through their own tales. The better yarns have the protagonists taking an active role in earning their magical rewards, as in "Granny Weather," in which Sophie saves her boyfriend, Jeck, by using lucid dreaming, personal sacrifice and good sense. However, many of the stories unfold with little drama or conflict. "Ten for the Devil" rambles from field to barroom and back, until the devil is finally foiled by kindness; while in "Big City Littles" and "Second Chances," the right mystical word spoken by Meran Kelledy immediately fixes things. Then there's de Lint's bias against ugly men and petty thieves. Without the mitigating love of a good woman, these men are punished ("Freak," "The Witching Hour"), sometimes even after death. Pretty girls, however, can do no wrong. All the female denizens of Newford appear to have artistic gifts. Just a modicum of good manners and a little spunk earns most of these ladies rich rewards ("Masking Indian," "Trading Hearts at the Half Kaffe Caf‚," "Seven Wild Sisters"). While some of de Lint's niftier conceits are well utilized, such as the faerie realm created by lucid dreaming, more is to be expected from this World Fantasy Award-winning author than this collection of hazy, lazy tales.