The first book I ever read by fantasy author Charles de Lint was his YA/teen novel The Blue Girl. Featuring punk outcast Imogen, a formerly-bullied ghost and an imaginary friend, de Lint’s story drew me into a world of magical possibilities. After gobbling up The Blue Girl, I ventured into the daunting Adult Fiction section of my local library (I was about 14 at the time) to check out his other titles.
Thus began my introduction to the fictional North American city of Newford, populated by authors, artists and musicians as well as ghosts, faeries, half-imaginary dream people and mysterious figures who may or may not be ancient spirits (I’m betting on yes). De Lint’s stories expertly interweave the ordinary and the fantastical, bringing magic to urban landscapes. Newford’s diverse settings, from bohemian apartments to abandoned subway tunnels, match its eclectic array of characters that often include lost, homeless or hurting individuals seeking hope and finding it through magical circumstances.
What I love about Newford is how it could be any big city, New York or Toronto perhaps. And what’s rewarding about de Lint’s fiction is that characters come back in other novels or short stories. One of my favorite characters, Jilly Coppercorn, first appeared in a few different short story collections before getting a book of her own in The Onion Girl. Although Newford is a big city, characters are constantly meeting and running into each other on their adventures, and the more stories you read, the more you come to recognize familiar faces.
De Lint’s mastery of folktale and mythology drive his stories. Drawing from Native American, Mexican, Irish and American traditions, de Lint urges the reader to connect with myth by embracing the unexplained and mysterious about our world. Fantasy is not contained to forests or wild places but flourishes in an urban cityscape under our very noses, waiting to be noticed. Reading de Lint’s work invites you to look at the world from the corner of your eyes and believe that things might not always be as they seem.
Some of de Lint’s best work can be found in his short story collections. Two of my favorites are Dreams Underfoot and Muse and Reverie. This year I’m working my way through all of de Lint’s Newford books, re-reading old favorites and catching up on the ones I missed.
What are your favorite fantasy novels? Have you read any of de Lint’s work? Let us know in the comments below!
Travel to NewfordReserve one of Charles de Lint's novels
Adina enjoys cooking and eating (mostly eating), ranting about books and watching movies with her friends. You can find her clerking at the West End branch or relaxing in her cozy apartment.