Mmmm, happiness

Ahhh, what better than a warm spring day in February, a cup of hot tea, a bit of classical music, and a great book? All enjoyed on the deck of course, with a hint of smoke in the air, an oversized dog keeping you company, and just the lightest feeling of magic in the air!

I’ve had some bad spells the last few weeks. Frustrated with work, desperately wanting to move, boredom, dreams with too much meaning and too little understanding, restlessness, it’s all added up to a slightly bitchy Jaym recently. Yesterday was great, an hour in a bookstore led to about 30 new books, then an Italian lunch. Today was the aforementioned reading binge on the deck.

I’ve branched out, into the classics, the big names of fantasy literature this time. Blaylock. Mieville. Eddings (again). Hobb. Bradbury. Rawn. Poul Anderson. Butler. Some of them are old friends, Octavia Butler was one of the first fantasy authors I read, after Gemmell and Tolkien, Eddings is a favorite of both my mother and me.

But one author in particular was left with an empty shelf.

There are some books that, the first, maybe even the second time you pick them up, just don’t catch you. Maybe you can’t read them in a certain place, or maybe they require solitude, night, or a sunny day. Stories are moody that way, this has been noted in the past. Sometimes, a book waits for the right time and place to catch you. That was the issue with Terry Brooks’ “Running With the Demon”. I couldn’t make it through the first chapter the first time, the second time, I couldn’t put it down.

I first started reading “Jack of Kinrowan”, by Charles de Lint about 6 months ago, here and there at work. I made it about a third of the way through before it was shelved. Then a friend gave me, over Christmas, a copy of “Greenmantle”, and once started, I couldn’t stop! I think it took me two weeks, because I paced myself.

Picked “Jack” up again a week ago. Finished it today, and only waited so long because I had to stop and absorb it as I read. Yesterday, I bought all four de Lint books they had.

He writes urban fantasy in a way that leaves it so very foreign, and terribly relatable at the same time. The characters are seeing magic, wild things that they can’t explain. You can feel the wonder and fear. You almost expect to look out your window and see a bogan or hob sitting outside. And at the same time, the characters are very human. They have fears and weaknesses that aren’t there for stitchery, but are reality. Suspended disbelief, without suspending belief as well. The worlds of faerie aren’t old hat in these stories, they are wild and wonderful.

I loaned “Greenmantle” to a friend who didn’t know where to start with the de Lint books. It’s a little more real, more tied to this world than to Faerie, while “Jack” starts out a little more real, then deals very little with the mortal world. “Greenmantle” is a good place to start on de Lint, to get that feel and language ingrained.

Just don’t be surprised to find yourself speaking of skillymen and widdershins and saying “spike’em all!”. Or maybe that’s just me.

I find few authors to be truly engrossing. de Lint is certainly one of them, and I look forward to reading every one of his stories.

Next up is Blaylock’s “Elfin Ship”.

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