Monday, April 28, 2008

Pages Full of Magic

A few years ago, I picked up a book that changed my reading forever. It was called The Little Country and it was written by Charles de Lint. It was about the power of music and the magic it creates. And it was also a fantasy book. Charles de Lint opened up a new world to me. A world of Fantasy literature, and I fell in love immediately.

For Carl's Once Upon a Time II Challenge, we are asked to take a step back from reality and open ourselves up to a little fantasy. Who better to read than Charles de Lint for a little fantasy, right? The man that originally opened up this world to me. So under the heading of "mythic fantasy" I chose Memory and Dream by de Lint (400 pgs, Orb Books), one of his Newford Books. And where The Little Country dealt with music and magic, Memory and Dream focuses on art and magic.

"Katherine Mully had been dead for five years and two months, the morning Isabelle received the letter from her." Now that's a great way to start a novel!! Isabelle Copely and Katherine Mully were college roommates. Not just roommates, but best friends and kindred spirits. Izzy was an art major and Kathy was a writer. They lived in a Bohemian style section of Newford, where the arts are celebrated and life was good. Until Izzy met Vincent Rushkin, one of the greatest artists to ever hail from Newford. His work was celebrated, although the artist himself was somewhat of a recluse. But when he met Izzy, he offered up his expertise and took her on as a protege.

Although a brilliant artist, Rushkin was prone to fits of rage.....mostly taken out on Izzy. He was always critical of her. Never accepting anything that he deemed unworthy. One minute he would be incredibly sweet, and then out of nowhere, he would completely lose control and become violent. But from her perspective, the pros definitely outweighed the cons because Ruskin's instruction was enhancing her art to new levels.

But when Ruskin tells Izzy the secret about her art, things change. One of the things that Ruskin had seen in Izzy was her ability to become a "maker". If Izzy put her spirit into her paintings, she could bring the subject to life. Her paintings were the gateway from "the other".....the spirits that she would paint could physically manifest themselves into the real world.

""And it's just people that come across?" Izzy asked.
"Beings," Ruskin said. "Yes. However, they won't necessarily seem like people. They have the same source as legend and myth, Isabelle. When the ancients first made their paintings and sculptures of marvelous beings -- dryads and satyrs, angels and dragons -- they were not rendering things they had seen. Rather they were bringing them into being. Not all of them, of course. Only those with the gift.""

And Izzy DID bring across some beings. Only Kathy knew the secret of Izzy's work. As a writer, she understood the concept. But when things fell apart, Izzy exiled herself to her family's home on Wren Island. Kathy's death a few years later caused even more division between Izzy and her old friends and lifestyle. But when Alan, an old friend from the past, wants Izzy to illustrate a new book containing some of Kathy's unpublished work, the past and the present come together in a way that no one could have predicted.

This story moves flawlessly between the past and the present. Each section gives just enough information to keep the reader constantly wanting to know more. Izzy's ability as a maker has changed her in so many ways, leaving her responsible for the lives her numena, the name she has given to the spirits she brings across. They are frightened of Rushkin, the "dark man". A man they consider a monster, who feeds on them to sustain his own life. But Izzy can't seem to reconcile her feelings towards him, and certainly doesn't think he is a monster.

This book is about memories that aren't always real, but dreams that can be. It's about magic and art, and the intertwining of the two. And it's about love and friendship....two things a person should never be without. Charles de Lint is a genius at opening a world in which all things are possible. His writings flows from page to page with ease. And from page one, I was completely under his spell. De Lint is a master storyteller in every sense of the word. His characters are incredibly deep and well-written. Each one is flawed just enough to seem completely real.

But what I loved most about this book was the idea that magic can really exist in the world today. When real life seems to be bogged down with so many problems and concerns, all you have to do is open a book by de Lint to see that magic really exists. If not in our heads, but in our hearts. I recommend this book 100 percent. It is beautifully written and it's a little piece of magic all by itself. 5/5

13 comments:

3m said...

I must read a de Lint sometime. Everyone has raved about his books.

Melody said...

Thanks for the great review, Stephanie! I'm still slowly collecting his books because some of them are so hard to find!!!

Chris said...

This sounds so incredible Stephanie! I think that this is going to be my next de Lint book! ok..maybe not my next since I have 10 of them sitting on my shelf already :p But the next that I buy. Aren't his books just amazing? I don't think he can right a bad book. Hey, I wanted to tell you that I just mooched a copy of Don't lets go to the dogs tonight...that book you reviewed awhile back and I'm really excited about it. I've been wanting to read it for ages!

Stephanie said...

Michelle - I highly recommend de Lint!! This one was just wonderful!

Melody - Thanks! I have loved everything I've read by him. If you have trouble finding his books, let me know. I can always ship you one from here.

Chris - This book was amazing. Far and away exceeded my expectations. I really picked it because I wanted to read something from the Newford's early books...and I thought the title was cool. But it turned out to be fantastic!! I really enjoyed Don't Lets go to the Dogs Tonight. I've never been a huge non-fiction fan, but I do like the memoir. This one was really good.

Carl V. said...

This was already on my radar to pick up, but even more so now. In your closing remarks you capture exactly what is so amazing about De Lint's writing. He is incredible.

Debi said...

Oh Stephanie, what a fabulous review! I have yet to read anything by de Lint...do have a couple in my TBR pile, but haven't picked them up yet. I think you just gave me the kick the butt that I needed. Though I must say that after your review, it's that book I want to start with!

Nymeth said...

That's a great opening line! I'm with Chris...this will have to be the next de Lint that I get (not that I read, because I already have The Onion Girl sitting on my shelf). Thanks for the amazing review!

Trish said...

Sounds wonderful--I haven't heard of this author before. I love a book that can sweep you off of your feet and bring joy and hope to your heart. Thanks for the review.

Cath said...

I read The Little Country two years ago and then didn't read another De Lint until this year. It was a Newford book and I fell hook line and sinker. That book was the anthology, Dreams Underfoot, and now I want to read a lot more. I have another anthology, The Ivory and the Horn and then I definitely want to try some Newford novels. This one you've reviewed sounds wonderful.

Rhinoa said...

I tried to read not too much of your review as I haven't read this one yet. I read enough to know you really enjoyed it which is the main thing! If you like the combination of art and magic then I definitely recommend The Onion Girl by de Lint.

Melody said...

Thanks for the offer, Stephanie!!! I really appreciate it. Well, I guess I'll keep on searching for them... will let you know if I decide to give up. ;)

Thanks again! {{Hugs}}

Somer said...

I keep hearing such great things about de Lint. I'm going to have to pick one up soon!

Lisa said...

I have never read this author, but this book sounds fascinating. This is a great review. Thanks!