by Charles de Lint – This is book 5 in the de Lint’s magical Newford series, and it’s a fine standalone novel… which is great, considering that I haven’t read books 1-4 yet. (And I don’t have to tell you how much I prefer reading an entire series in order, do I? No, didn’t think so.) The series goes back to the 1980s and my local libraries and bookstores don’t have them all (unsurprising, as there are at least 23 de Lint titles in this series alone), so I’m reading them as I can find them. Perhaps it’s good for me to challenge my usual MO and do something different (i.e., read a series out of order) every once in a while.
Charles de Lint’s Newford books share a world and a few characters, but the books all stand up to solo reading. The world seems to grow with each book and the main characters change, with the recurrent ones becoming secondary in other books. This gives a feeling of community and movement to the series, with plenty of new territory to explore. That includes mythical, mystical and magical territory, with art and music playing key roles. Indeed, art and music are magical in de Lint’s world, and they lend depth and pathos to everything he writes.
I loved this book, in which certain painters have the ability to bring their painted creatures over from the world of “story” or “the before” into the physical plane. The creatures have their own consciousnesses, their own lives, their own desires… and their own enemies. And the protagonists are coping with loss and pain in the mundane world, even before it intersects with the “impossible.” The story and its characters touched and surprised me from start to finish. Highly recommended. (finished 9/24)