Book for October: Dreams Underfoot; Charles de Lint.
Another book that languished on a library list–along with a lot of others, I have a tendency to get distracted by the shiny new books. But this one, at least, is read!
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The people of Newford, described by the blurb as “fey folk, magicians, hustlers, painters, fiddlers, and ordinary people” in a series of loosely connected stories. Each story can stand alone, but characters recur, popping up in one and then another, and they’re presented in what seems to be chronological order. The stories are dreams in the truest sense–with hidden strangeness and magic rising to the light, and sometimes that magic is beautiful. Other times, it is terrifying, the same way a dream can become a nightmare.
Stories include a woman with a strange history pining after a musician whose only love is his music; a man whose love sees a repeating loop of a ghost, and despite warnings, tries to help the ghost; various kind strangers who try to help down-on-their luck runaways; a writer who collects strange stories which sometimes intersect with the book’s reality; and a variety of magical creatures from the absurd to the horrifying.
Many of the stories have a hint of danger in them–be careful what you wish for, they warn–because a glimpse of the strange lives running along the pedestrian world has consequences. Once you know that there’s really fairies in the trees or boogieman under the bed, you can’t unknow that truth. Some characters experience triumph over the danger in the night, others a bittersweet acceptance of the way the world is, and others are swallowed up by that dark.
Here be monsters. And wonders. You won’t know which you get until you turn the pages.