Friday, May 25, 2007

Fast Meme and Thoughts on Widdershins

I've been tagged by Meli for a short meme that's been circulating. I suppose that's only fair, since she was so cooperative with the 8 things meme. :) Unfortunately, following the rules (turn to the book nearest you, find page 161, copy out the fifth full sentence) led to a rather boring result, lol:

"Did you discover who are the occupants of the guest-chamber?" Holmes asked Mahmoud.

This is from Laurie King's O Jerusalem, the fifth book in her Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. Highly recommended, despite the prosaicness of this sentence. :) Since I'm at the tailend of this meme, I'm not going to tag specific people: if you want to do it, then leave me a comment, and then I'll explicitly tag you. ;) Simpler for everyone!

That being done, I'd like to talk a little about Charles de Lint's Widdershins. I read it as part of the Once Upon a Time challenge: I had never even heard of de Lint before, but he cropped up on a few participants' lists, so I decided to give it a go. I am so, so happy that I did: he's now on my short list of new favourite authors.

Widdershins is apparently what's known as urban fantasy: it takes place in the contemporary, everyday world (I think Canada-it's not explicit, but that's the sense I got) that just happens to intersect with the fairy world. The story follows one woman, Jilly, and all of the humans and fairies that get drawn into her messy presence. There are several plotlines running at once, and de Lint changes point of view (third person, but not omniscient) pretty much every chapter. To prevent confucion, he helpfully titles each chapter by the character's pov. :) The book is amazing: de Lint gracefully examines how humans and fairies deal with emotional trauma AND political intrigue. It's not often you see both in one book; it's even less often that both are dealt with well. However, de Lint is not your average writer.

To me, the best thing about Widdershins was the characters. Most of the time, that's what makes or breaks a book for me: do I want the characters for friends? As far as Widdershins goes, the answer is a resounding yes. I feel as if I know all of these people, and that I want to get caught up in their, slightly off-kelter lives. The characters all have their flaws, so there's none of the perfect heros that sometimes mar on otherwise good novel (am I the only annoyed when everyone in the book is beautiful, smart, witty, and rich?). In fact, Jilly is in a wheelchair! The fairies are not Tinkerbell-there is also a fascinating disparity between the "native" fairies and those who came over with the Europeans. I really enjoyed de Lint's take on the subject.

I don't really want to discuss much of the plot-it's simply too complex to summarize, and I think it'd be better to go into the book with an open mind. However, I highly recommend that everyone read this book. Even if fantasy isn't your thing, this is not stereotypical buff fighter/loony wizard/hot girls/maybe dragons fantasy. It just feels like contemporary fiction, with an unusual twist. I know that I want to go out and read everything de Lint has ever written. In fact, I've already checked out another book of his from the library!

Favorite Passage

No matter how different people looked-cousin, human, fairy-inside they were all the same. It was only what you did with the spirit that made the difference.
Big heart or sour twist.
Generous spirit or miser.
You had a choice.
But you had to make that choice, or the circumstances around you would make it for you. People would decide for you.(445)


meli said...

Sounds great! Thanks for doing the meme. I don't think the sentence is to bad, it certainly sets a scene...

Petunia said...

I first read about Widdershins from Carl V. and knew it had to be good. Glad you enjoyed it.

I tried the short meme and got this, "It was what he had expected." From Little Black Book of Stories, which I had close at hand for a review.

Mailyn said...

Oh this sounds like a must read! We have a fantasy book blog and this is just the stuff I love.

P.S. I LOVE Jonathan Strange! ^__^