Absolutely stunning I m still somewhat mesmerised by this book, under its spell, having a hard time not picking it straight back up and reading it again and only stopped from doing so because I lent it to someone else with the insistence that they read it immediately.
This book doesn t really fit neatly into genre It s not quite a novel, but then not quite short stories either Short stories, I suppose, in the sense that each chapter can be read independently of any other, and in fact were originally published in many separate literature collections At the same time they all fit together so it really does feel like reading a fluid story that isn t quite in order, doesn t have a plot and is all the better for it.
When I got this out at the library, the librarian raved about it, stating finally tat she would give anything to live in Newford I now share these feelings Charles de Lint has managed that extraordinary feat of making magic feel utterly plausible, real, normal and yet not in the slightest bit mundane Though much of the subject matter is very dark themes include murder, child abuse, street gangs and other violence it instantly took me back to childhood and the tales of Hans Christian Anderson, with their bitter sweet magic.
I honestly cannot recommend this book enough, I hope that these confused attempts at reviewing it actually convince you to read it Welcome To Newford Welcome To The Music Clubs, The Waterfront, The Alleyways Where Ancient Myths And Magic Spill Into The Modern World Come Meet Jilly, Painting Wonders In The Rough City Streets And Geordie, Playing Fiddle While He Dreams Of A Ghost And The Angel Of Grasso Street Gathering The Fey And The Wild And The Poor And The Lost Gemmins Live In Abandoned Cars And Skells Traverse The Tunnels Below, While Mermaids Swim In The Grey Harbor Waters And Fill The Cold Night With Their SongContents Uncle Dobbin S Parrot FairThe Stone DrumTimeskipFreewheelingThat Explains PolandRomano DromThe Sacred FireWinter Was HardPity The MonstersGhosts Of Wind And ShadowThe Conjure ManSmall DeathsThe Moon Is Drowning While I SleepIn The House Of My EnemyBut For The Grace Go IBridgesOur Lady Of The HarbourPaperjackTallulah 3.
5 stars I liked this collection and certainly would recommend it to fans of de Lint but in all honesty I was expecting to like this collection than I actually did I had previously read Moonheart which I loved and Memory and Dream which I thought was excellent, though not quite as good as Moonheart First, this is not really a short story collection as much as a group of individual tales all set in Newford and involving many of the same characters and often building on events that occurred in previous stories The prose in each of the stories is lush and beautiful with a dream like quality that de Lint is well known for The stories themselves are a mixed bag of excellent to merely okay Some of my favorites were Paperjack, The Stone Drum, Pity the Monsters and Our Lady of the Harbour Overall, a good collection with writing superior to most of the Urban Fantasy out there but sort of hit miss on the strength of each story One Final note I listened to the audio version read by Kate Reading who I think is terrific and she did an excellent job with the book Nominee World Fantasy Award for Best short story several stories nominated Nominee Locus Award for Best short Story several stories nominated Charles de Lint seems to do what many New York Times Bestselling authors fail to do he is able to tell simple Note I do not mean simplistic stories, and keep the meat and potatoes in place What do I mean There is nothing irritating to me than a story which is a sketch than a story, where characters are given the thinnest of descriptive lines, where the plot is as thinly unveiled as the characters, are given to long dialogs that meander in order to get that extra pages in so that the book will be big enough to sell at a higher price and by this I do not mean that a book has to be thin It has to be what the story demands of it There is as much artistry in The Brother s Karamazov as there is with Of Mice and Men Both Dostoevsky and Steinbeck knew what was needed in their books, but never sacrificed quality What we have with de Lint s Dreams Underfoot is not only a great introduction to the Urban Fantasy world of Newford, but also characters who run the gambit between the fantastic and the tragic These are artists, mostly, and around their thirties or so They are characters who are trying to make a living, pay bills, improve their arts de Lint is also a folk musician , and who struggle with issues of the daily world What s also revealing about these set of short stories is not only has de Lint managed to capture the essence of many myths of the past, by portraying a good portion of the stories in tragic terms, tragedy being something we forget embodies than a few fantasies, myths, and fairy tales, but that these stories, in both their senses, have characters who are deeply affected and or scarred by their experiences, experiences that will not always resolve itself, if ever, at the end of the last page of the story I have read other de Lint novels Into the Green , The Little Country , Svaha , and Greenmantle What impresses me most about many of his stories is that they have real, and sometimes violent, grit They are fantastic, without simplifying the world The world outside can be a rough and sometimes unfair place, and at least on one level, perhaps metaphorically, Dreams Underfoot underscores this many times The other thing that strikes me is that while de Lint is not a Christian, and certainly not a Catholic in other places he has been quoted as not only being an Animist, but that he has trouble with organized religion , there is something defiantly liturgical in the sense in which he presents the magic in his Urban Fantasy as a process between the mythic and the man or woman who either is not aware, or struggles with his her spirituality In one of the stories, Jilly, an painter living in Newford and one who has experienced the fantastic, gives an explanation to a friend that the fantastic, the magical, has to be experienced by going through the process of the unfolding magic This is as much an explanation for the Sacraments and the Liturgy as it is a condition of confronting the magic of Newford And at least for de Lint, there is also the human element in the process, Its existence magic becomes an affirmation of the power of the human spirit can have over its own destiny 14 In the same way, liturgical and sacramental practices found in Christian spirituality requires the participation of the individual, is in fact a process by which one finds their destiny in the divine So, in one very real sense, all of the stories found in Dreams Underfoot are processes, and do affect the lives of the individuals who pass through them Other stories here have of the horror embodied in them In fact, some of de Lint s early Newford novels, written under a pseudonym, are classified as horror In this collection, Pity the Monsters and Small Deaths , are examples, with Small Deaths displaying a really great kind of Hitchcock type of psychological horror, with just a touch of the magical to shape the story into something quite powerful There are also tragedies contained between these pages Freewheeling about a young, possibly schizophrenic, possibly magic touched young man, Zinc, whose freeing of bicycles are interpreted by the law as stealing is one such story What makes this story interesting, is that the story is told with no pontificating, so one does not know really which way he really is, magic touched or mentally ill And the ending is powerful enough to hit one square in the chest Another story, In the House of My Enemy is about child abuse and the consequences that usually end up at the foot of the abused In this story, we learn a little about Jilly s background, and her connection with the hurting she is always trying to help Here again, de Lint does not give us a satisfactory ending, even for a strong, brave, and resourceful person like Jilly, and the person she is trying to help in the story is faced with an obstacle so huge it overwhelms her It seems that for all the magic that happens in Newford, tragedy still occurs in the deepest part of the city, and like all great myths of the past and present, tragedy remains a key element in much of mythic storytelling The only distraction with this collection is a few glaring typos I found This is not the fault of the author, but of the editors and publishers of the book One last thought on these stories While reading this book, I was struck by how much it reminded me of Rod Stirling I ve always considered Stirling a great storyteller who found the new invention of the television a way to express his art, in the same way that Frank Zappa, a student of composition, found rock and not orchestral music as a format for his art Stirling was the master of irony, as the twists at the end of almost every Twilight Zone episode displayed brilliantly, and help to set up something not only stunning to the mind, but thought provoking at times as well I bring this up because this is the same type of thing that is exhibited in most of the stories of Dreams Underfoot , which only creates that added dimension of the process and the after effects and consequences magic has in Newford as well as for the reader, because like the residents of Newford, we too, through the joyous practice of reading, have completed all the journeys ourselves, and hopefully not afraid to walk the streets of Newford at night or meet the occasional faerie.
A collection of short stories that actually works very well as a novel They all share a setting and theme that of troubled, often creative young people encountering myth and magic in the imaginary city of Newford Having never been to either city, for some reason Newford conjures up a sort of cross between the Seattle and Vancouver of my mind.
Some of these stories are very, very good I d say some of them are some of de Lint s best work However, around the second half of the book, it began to bother me in the same precise way that so much of de Lint s work ALWAYS bothers me And this time, I pinned it down de Lint reminds me, exactly, of any one of a number of usually well meaning counselors, teachers and other adult figures, who, when I was a teenager, were CONVINCED that due to my alternative look, creative bent, and independent, rebellious attitude, that I must be suffering from low self esteem, and hiding some sort of dreadful trauma that had made me that way view spoiler There s even a story here where a girl tells a counselor a story of trauma and then says, Oh, I m lying, I just said that because I knew it was what you wanted to hear I said YES FINALLY He s admitting that sometimes counselors TRY to elicit this stuff from you whether it happened or not But then the twist ending to the story is that it really DID all happen to her Ugh hide spoiler Charles de Lint was writing urban fantasy well before the genre s current wave of popularity In fact, his work sits outside what people mean by urban fantasy these days it eludes classification, falling somewhere between magic realism and folkloric fantasy Terri Windling s introduction to this edition discusses the difficulty of trying to pin such a book down to a single genre.
I m currently attempting to read through all Charles de Lint s Newford books in order of publication Dreams Underfoot was published in 1993 It contains 19 related short stories, all set in or connected with the North American city in whose downtown district live de Lint s set of regular and irregular characters, Jilly Coppercorn the artist, Christy Riddell the bard, his brother Geordie, and a cast of musicians, painters, poets and street people And the uncanny folk of Newford, who dwell alongside humankind sometimes beautiful, sometimes menacing, always different Some of the stories are stronger than others, but all reflect a deep understanding of traditional narrative De Lint s writing reflects the fact that he is a musician with a bard s sense of rhythm and flow The Newford settings remind me of the hippy culture of the late sixties and early seventies, when life seemed to move at a gentler pace The stories have been collected in this volume, but first appeared individually in various publications This means a certain amount of repetition, and that can be a little annoying for example, the introduction of certain key characters with a physical description each time they appear in a new story, including details of what they re wearing Overall I enjoyed the book For readers who enjoy folkloric fantasy and who are not familiar with the work of this prominent writer in the genre, I recommend this collection as a starter.
5 STARS I reviewed each short story as a read so here are my status updates with corresponding stars reviews I give Uncle Dobbin s Parrot Fair a 4.
5 star rating It was a simple tale but I loved it The Stone Drum gets 5 stars Absolutely amazing tale and introduction for characters I have learned to love in his later works Timeskip gets a solid 5 stars the way it ended have me so many unexpected feels.
I m going to give Freewheeling 4 stars it was sad but a very simple but beautiful short story That Explains Poland was a cute short story introducing a recurring character, LaDonna, who was surprisingly relatable I give this 5 stars p Romano Drom was a spellbinding introduction to the recurring character Lori aka Lorio I had a lot of fun with the Romanian Gypsy folklore in this 5 Stars The Sacred Fire was so creepy it made my skin crawl I did not expect this from de LintTheir faces don t fit quite right I gave this a solid 5 stars Winter was Hard gets a solid 5 stars I didn t expect to tear up so much while reading it And Jilly is quickly becoming one of my favourites Pity for Monsters gets a solid 5 stars It was incredibly creepy Ghosts of Wind and Shadow gets 4.
5 Stars It deals with the realities of youth on the streets and prostitution while adding the magical element we all wished existed The Conjure Man is a whimsical tale of how stories are important in how we connect and communicate with each other 5 Stars Small Deaths gets 4.
5 stars I liked the definition of what a small death is and how it affects everyone I had a hard time with the character Wolfe though The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep was very relatable story about lucid dreaming and what it could actually be I gave this 5 Stars In the House of my Enemy was a raw and realistic portrayal of child abuse It hit hard where all the feels are I am still teary eyed while writing this.
5 stars But for the Grace I Go was a very short tale of a close call and finally taking the next step 4.
5 Stars Bridges gets 5 Stars for its relatable character, Moira, and the hauntingly beautiful bridge city 3 Our Lady of the Harbour was one of the longer stories in this collection It was about a distant and cold man whose music was so magical it lured a beautiful creature out, only to result in an ending that left me with all the feels 5 stars Paperjack was the conclusive short story to Timeskip and it gave me the closure I needed 5 Stars Tallulah was a beautiful short story about Christie, Geordie s older brother, and his mysterious and unforgettable love 5 stars 3333So as you can tell I absolutely loved this short story collection and the first installment of the Newford series, even though it was published after a few novels in the series If you too are interested in the series order, check out the Newford wiki page grew up with Charles de Lint He has strongly influenced both myself and my young sister when it comes to creativity and inspiration He is a local author who has shaped a lot of my dreams growing up and is still entertaining me to this day with some of the most loved and real characters I have ever read I want to go out and pick up the next in the series just so that I can remain in the magically real world of Newford, where the homeless, the poor, and the creative all have a magic in them A place where the dark doesn t seem as dark any and Dreams Underfoot go to play SourceIf you are interested in reading Urban Fantasy then I highly suggest you pick this up This year I am doing a genre challenge This book covers urban fantasy If you are interested check out the group here check out the other books and genres I have read so far this year Action Adventure ReviewAuto Biography Review Chick Lit ReviewFantasy ReviewHorror Review Paranormal ReviewPulp Hard boiled or Noir Fiction ReviewRomance ReviewScience Fiction ReviewThriller ReviewTravel Review
I was just a wee freshman in high school when I discovered Charles de Lint, and my addiction to his characters and fictional world of urban mythology all started with this book It has been 14 years now and I m still a huge fan.
The first edition paperback of this book actually has an oil painting by Terri Windling on the cover of a celtic looking woman with deer horns, a flute, and an oak leaf tattoo over her eye I want to say John Jude Palencar has been doing the reprint cover art as these anthologies are re released, I still love Terri s artwork better But I digress.
This book came into my life at a time when I couldn t commit to reading novels for some reason I just didn t have the patience for them But this collection of stories is very palatable in length and varietyeach story stands out as an individual and wanders from enchanting, to mild horror, to just plain weird Most of the stories has some element of old mythologies from different cultures De Lint focuses a lot on Kickaha native american ideas since Newford is a fictional town in Canada He adds a lot of Celtic flavor as well, but I think a lot of this has to do with him being an adept Celtic musician who plays regularly in a band Hey, write what you know, eh That s another thing about Newford most of the characters are bohemian artists in one form or another, and they re all friends They re all fine boned and pixie faced and rarely are their any actual ugly characters in his books though I ve noticed he has a penchant for writing in first person with predominantly female characters what males he does write about have far less detail than his women A little romantic unrealistic but I m willing to look over that Anyway, his characters are all artists in some capacity or another corner busking fiddlers, fine artists that moonlight as waiters and waitresses, flute players, sculptors, musicians and writers Everyone has some creative niche they struggle to live on The characters tend to dress very punk grunge from the 90s as well which makes sense since his first three Newford anthologies are set in the early to late 90s Lots of women with blue or pink dyed hair, facial piercings and tattoos, and most of them dress to reflect their income like they walked out of a thrift store De Lint also has a lot of homeless people in his stories He really gives a face to those that fall between the cracks in society Unfortunately he succeeds in romanticizing living on the streets rather than representing the reality of people in such a position Don t get me wrong, he makes an effort to show how sucky his hobo characters have it but it comes across as cool rather than the truly dire situation that it is.
My all time favorite of Charles de Lint 14 years and counting.
Note, Nov 26, 2015 I edited this review just now to correct a misspelled word.
All but one of the 19 stories in this collection take place in de Lint s favorite setting, his imaginary city of Newford, Canada and its environs, and they furnish a great introduction to his characteristic urban fantasy Strictly speaking, two of the stories here don t actually have a supernatural element but they fit right in with the rest Newford is home to such creatures as mermaids and fairies, skookins and Bigfoot along with some sinister entities , as well as to a gallery of likeable, mostly young characters who are often involved in creative arts music, painting or writing and who may interact in than one story Free spirited artist Jilly Coppercorn is the most often recurring character, but there are several others De Lint s protagonists tend to be secular in their attitudes, and a few stories seem to explain the magical elements in terms of the idea that believing something can make it so Instances of unmarried sex occur in four of the stories though they re neither explicit nor gratuitous , and there s some bad language, including a few uses of the f word, mostly by villains or by street kids whose speech patterns aren t shaped by the best of influences But de Lint s messages here are essentially about the importance of human community and relationships, of kindness and caring and responsibility, of openness to finding the world a far strange and wondrous place than its mundaneness allowed it could be Some of the stories clearly discourage loose and exploitative sex So its moral tendency, if you will, is a wholesome one, and its vision winsome given half a chance, I d gladly move to Newford, and count it a privilege to be friends with Jilly and her buddies Probably my favorite story in this collection is Ghosts of Wind and Shadow but The Stone Drum, That Explains Poland, and Romano Drom are standouts, too But read it for yourself you ll pick your own favorites