10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
"Jack the Giant Killer", the first of the two books included in _Jack of Kinrowan_, tells the story of a depressed young woman named Jacky, stunned by her recent breakup, and seeing no point or direction in her life. But one night, she stumbles drunkenly into Faery. Upon hearing that the faery princess of Ottawa has been abducted by the evil Unseelie Court, she volunteers for a rescue mission--despite the fact that every Seelie faery in the city has chickened out and called it a lost cause. She joins forces with some interesting friends, and through luck and resourcefulness, fights the Unseelie Court. Jacky and her best friend, Kate Crackernuts, are wonderful characters, and I was glad to see them in the sequel, _Drink Down the Moon_, the other novel included in this book.
Unfortunately, _Drink Down the Moon_ is a little bit of a letdown after _Jack the Giant Killer_. It's still a three- or four-star book in its own right, but it wouldn't stand very well on its own, and Jacky and Kate have too-small roles. The novel's finest moments are those in which Jacky or Kate or both are present, but in _Drink Down the Moon_, Jacky herself has become the "rescue-fodder", and center stage is taken by characters that fail to engage the reader quite as much. I had hoped to see more of Eilian as well. What I really want is for de Lint to write a third installment, in which Jacky and Kate are prominent again, and perhaps challenge the Seelie Court itself, and ask the Laird a few hard questions--like why he's always out of town when he's needed most.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2006
Originally written an Charles De Lint's entry into the retold Fairy Tales for Adults series by Terri Windling. A series still (albeit slowly) being written today. _Jack the Giant Killer_ or Jack of Kinrown_ as it was known as in Canada (of course) took the story of "Jack and the Beanstalk" and set the story in modern day Ottawa, the book was originally released in 1986. De Lint liked the characters and world so much he went onto write a sequel to the novel entitled _Drink Down the Moon_ as unsatisfying second novel.
_Jack the Giant Killer_ follows Jacky Rowan,a thirty-something slacker whom (litterally) stumbles into faery on an emotionally charged drinking binge. After a few hurtful words said to her by her (now ex) boyfriend Will, Jacky goes off on a drinking binge. Shaken to the core by Will, her drinking binge lands her in the citys park where she witnesses something truly horrific carried out by the modern day incarnations of 'The Wild Hunt', a supernatural hunt of celtic legend that was said to include everyone from King Arthur to Odin among its midst. But you thankfully won't find ties to Camelot or Norse Mythology here (perhaps in creatures and beings only).
De Lint follows the usual Urban Fantasy idea that when man came to these shores he brought his gods and mythical beings with him in addition to those that were already here, what we have then in De Lint's world is the two courts of Faery legend, The Seelie and Unseelie courts, the Unseelie court taking dominance as our modern media influences man's belief and thus gives the dark court dominance. This is De Lint's non too subtle snap (at the time anyway) towards a media that was populated by horror movies rather then lighter hearted and fantasy movies. As Jacky becomes intangled in Faery Court politicks, she finds new motivation in life as all the things magical and dangerous that almost any child dreamed off are realized in the faery court. Litterally scared to death of the Unseelie courts, the Laird's (leader of the Seelie Courts) young daughter has been kidnapped and there remains virtually no allies to try and rescue her. So it seems the Unseelie court is destined to win. That is when Jacky Rowan stumbles in, aided by quirky friend Kate (Kate Crackernuts as she's called by the fae) and more then a bit of luck Jacky quickly becomes the Seelie courts only hope as she decends headlong into dangers, intriguing and sometimes magical adventures.
The first novel _Jack The Giant Killer_ is a fun, enteraining if simplistic read. One of the better but not the best reinterpretations of 'Jack and the Beanstalk', Jacky herself never really rises above stock standard hero fair while Kate's quirky and at times snappish and funny fierce friend act at times wears on the reader; but she remains a likeable addition. The other characters that appear in the novel; Eilian, along with Arkan and Finn pass by the reader and leave a decent but not deep enough impression on the reader. Eilian as the standard hottie-faery boy love interest for Jacky never really rises above 'hot man/faery/elf/being' standard character shoved together with Jacky because-the-author-says-so plot device. With exeption to the Gruagagh (perhaps the most intriguing character in the whole novel) the novel passes by in easy pacing and comes to a rather breathless conclusion that almost promised of a future volume which came a few years later in the form of _Drink Down the Moon_. _Jack the Giant Killer_ is a fun and easy read for those starting in Urban fantasy.
_Drink Down the Moon_ is the second novel in the _Jack of Kinrowan_ two book set set in Modern Day Faery inhabited Ottawa. Where the first novel introduces Jacky Rowan and her friend Kate to the world of faery and gives these two thirty something woman a fun and magical (and sometimes dangerous) new lease on life, this novel they are only side characters. Leaving us with rather blank and an un engaging new set of characters that pass before the readers eyes without every really leaving impresssion (nothing other then vivid pink hair and a fiddle is what this reader remembers most about the novel). The story follows Johnny Faw a handsome fiddler player with wonderous gifts that will allow him to aide the realm of Faerie in drawing power from the moon itself in an intricate dance. However dangerous powers want to see that the moons magic is never drawn for Faery and only Johnny with the aide of the beautiful and spritely Jemi Pook can stop it. With only (scattered) help from Kate and Jacky.
While De Lint's writing style is in full beautiful form here, Johnny and Jemi read more like fan created fanfiction characters brought into take attention away from the main characters of the novel. Indeed the novel never really stops reading like well written fanfiction and the novel ends quite suddenly (as the last novel did) leaving the reader closing the book slightly unsatisfied. While De Lint gives us nothing new in the way of the faery courts here, he does give us sort of fun story that doesn't end up sticking in the readers mind. _Drink Down the Moon_ is a dissapointing sequel in what could have been an interesting story with loads of potential. Instead he falls short of the task and while_Jack The Giant Killer_ is the better of the two novels here, it only recieves three stars. For being while fun not all that remarkable or never really rising above stock urban fantasy fair.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2005
These books ('Jack the Giant Killer' and its sequel 'Drink Down the Moon') introduce the young adult best friends Jacky Rowan and Kate Hazel and chronicle their adventures in the faerie realm of modern Ottawa. In the first book we learn that Jacky, a young blonde woman, is in fact "a Jack," a being blessed by luck. As such she is the only hope of the good Faerie denizens of Ottawa. With a lot of her innate luck, Jacky and Kate and her new Faerie friends kill some giants and save the day.
The books are early works by de Lint (1987 and 1990) and read like rough drafts of such amazing later novels as 'Trader' and 'Someplace to Be Flying'. Both novels together are the same size as de Lint's later single novels. The slim size means that the background and characterization of the later novels is missing here. Jacky and Kate seem to fall into Faerie, and we follow their adventures. None of the humans in these stories seem to be bothered by such mundane things as jobs, histories, families, etc. This makes the characters seem rather two dimensional and flat.
This is not to say that the books aren't good. They are, and are very fun reads, like an action-packed episode of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' or something. But this isn't a book I'd re-read. It's light reading, nothing deep.
I also agree with the reviewer who was aggravated by the fact that it's Jacky's luck that saves the day. She doesn't work for any of her victories, they seem to just happen to her. Also, many of the horrible situations she finds herself in are ones her stupidity and idiocy get her into in the first place. It annoys me that Jacky is the hero since she's blessed by luck, and never punished for the fact she is constantly leading herself, her friends, and even the entire city, into ruin. When it comes to completely sabotaging her own life, Jacky Rowan is a veritable Gilmore Girl. This is a protagonist I'm supposed to admire and relate to? I think not.
P.S. The fact that the half-mortal Jemi Pook in 'Drink Down the Moon' has, as a result of her half-mortal/half-faerie blood, NATURAL PINK HAIR is just embarrassing. It's something a 12-year-old girl would write in a fanfiction dot net story. I don't expect such Fluffy-Bunny-Fantasy from de Lint. This is very much an early work and it shows. However, I've found that every de Lint novel/collection that isn't set in his fictional city of Newford is merely bland fantasy. He only shines when he's writing about Newford. Compare this book to 'Someplace to Be Flying' and you'll see what I mean.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2008
"Jack, the Giant Killer" and "Drink Down the Moon" were originally published as separate books, and I have tended to think of them that way, especially considering that I read the first one in 1987, when I was in fifth grade, and the second one just a few weeks ago.
Unfortunately, the joint edition lacks the introduction in which De Lint explains how he conceived the books. They began as his contribution to a series of modernized fairy tales by various fantasy writers. The classic tale he chose to update bears the title of the first novel, though he threw in elements of other stories (including the related and better known "Jack and the Beanstalk") as well as some folkloric material.
De Lint was ideal for this project, since his specialty is incorporating traditional fantasy into a contemporary urban setting. He could easily write mainstream fiction if he wanted. His books always begin in the real world, and he has a flair for drawing believable females. But he also has a lifelong interest in mythology and folklore. His passion for the subject always comes through in his fiction.
The "Jack" of the book's title turns out to be a young woman named Jacky. De Lint explained in the introduction that he chose Jack, the protagonist of at least three fairy tales, because the character is, in De Lint's words, "both foolish and clever," with a good deal of luck on his side. Jacky is the sort of woman who would nearly drown herself then find some ingenious way out of the water. This contradictory personality opens many possibilities, which De Lint exploits, though more in the second novel than in the first.
At the beginning, Jacky is just an ordinary woman in modern-day Canada who has no belief in fairies, elves, or sorcerers. Depressed from a recent breakup, she is walking down the street drunk one night when she witnesses a bizarre sight. A biker gang chase down and kill a strange little man in a seemingly impossible manner. The dwarf's corpse soon disappears, as does a mysterious man who was watching from a nearby house.
Naturally, she thinks she hallucinated the incident, but one item from the scene remains: the dwarf's red cap. When she returns to the spot a few days later, she discovers that donning the cap allows her to see into the land of Faerie, a world of gnomes, giants, and other mythical races. They all live right in the modern world, occupying the same space and traveling on the same roads. They've always been there, and always will be there, but most mortals are unable to see them.
This intriguing premise is part of what I remember loving about the novel as a kid. I especially enjoyed the names of the creatures, which include the Gruagagh, the hobs, and the bogans, a race of pirate-like ghouls with a penchant for the phrase "Hot damn!"
There is also an element of female empowerment, as a tiny woman from the contemporary world becomes a fighter and learns to kick Giant butt. (I have a theory that this book inspired "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.")
Unfortunately, the novel soon gets bogged down in plot details that aren't quite as compelling as the early scenes promise. Jacky is called upon to rescue some enchanted princess (or something) and restore order to the land. There's a lot of names and places to remember, and my eyes soon glazed over.
The novel, in any case, doesn't feel much like a fairy tale. It seems to owe more to Tolkien than to Grimm. There is even an enchanted object that corrupts the one who wields it, just like in "Lord of the Rings."
The second novel, "Drink Down the Moon," is in some ways better, even though it departs even farther from its fairy tale origin, with scarcely any giants in the plot. It is more of a typical De Lint novel.
It continues the adventures of Jacky, now a permanent resident of Faerie. She's forced to confront a powerful creature called the droichan, who is considerably smarter and scarier than the rather witless giants and bogans from the first novel. Like many classic villains, he has a begrudging admiration for the protagonist, who in a sense is his perfect match. Though completely evil and literally heartless, he oddly feels very human. His interplay with Jacky throughout the novel is well-conceived.
But there are some other important characters, including a half-human, half-elven woman who plays the sax in a local R&B band, and a fiddler who finds himself unwittingly drawn into the land of Faerie, hopelessly confused every step of the way.
The novel contains much joy and humor, but the scene I will probably remember for the longest is riveting. The droichan captures Jacky and uses magic to torture her, giving her a taste of a Hellish experience that I couldn't begin to describe here.
De Lint may have intended these two novels as a tribute to fairy tales, but the universe he created in the process takes on a life of its own, and I would have enjoyed seeing more sequels. He proves, with these books, one of the often overlooked truths about the fantasy genre, which is that there's a surprising amount of freshness to be found in stories that turn to the classics for inspiration.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2000
Downtown Ottowa at nighttime - a beautiful place unless you're being pursued by The Unseelie Court, protected by Hobb spells and are in possession of a magical cap of Seeing. Such is Jack of Kinrowan, my favorite urban fantasy book.
Jack of Kinrowan is actually two novellas under one cover - two adventures for the price of one, tho' I would have been happy to pay more (if necessary ;)) In these stories we meet Jacky Rowan, lost, disheveled and fresh out of a bad relationship (which she thought was pretty good) and her best friend Kate "Crackernuts" Hazel. Out of the goodness of their hearts they become emeshed in a plot to defend Ottowa's Faerie denizens from the darker, unsavory elemnts of the Boarderlands (Hey, not all Faeries are sweetness and light. Let's face it, even Tinkerbell was a little hellion for being a "good guy".).
Charles DeLint obviously loved writing this novel. It's so real (for being a fantasy) and so intriguing, one feels that he must have actually met these people, and transcribed their story. I wish there were more adventures with these plucky ladies, but, sadly, there have been none (tho' they were referenced in "Spiritwalk").
Get in touch with magic. Read this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2014
I actually read this as part of the Jack Kinrowan omnibus, and it is classic Charles deLint. I love this whole trilogy but this is probably the most magical of the three. I love the name as a reflection of the feeling I got when reading it. I was intoxicated by deLint's storytelling and writing. As a fledgling writer myself, I find inspiration in deLint's use of language and lore to create a web of magic in which I would like to be caught forever. I rarely if ever discuss the actual parts of the story I like because I believe that a book this magical should be discovered afresh by new eyes that have not been shadowed by others' opinions. This is as powerful and whimsical as this author gets, an dI cannot commend it highly enough.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2003
Although this isn't my favorite of Lint's books, it is definitely the funniest one I've ever read as his books aren't normally what you would call a comedy-crossover. Putting together two small books in one convienent cover, this is actually the one I've wished the most for a sequel to. It's a lighter introduction to Lint's world of urban fairie when two young women find themselves catapulted into the fae world without warning. Read it, enjoy it, and then try Moonheart and Greenmantle before you give up and buy all the rest of his books. The only of Lint's books I haven't loved is the short story collections, and only because I find short stories frustratingly well, short.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2004
"Jack the Giant Killer," the first of the two stand-alone stories in this book, was written for the seemingly ill-fated Fairy Tale series edited by Terri Windling. And it's wonderful, a very fresh take on the old "Jack" fairy tales, in which a puckish and courageous and strangely lucky young man slays giants and performs wonders.
The biggest, first twist is that the Jack is actually Jacky Rowan - a young woman who has just been dumped by her jerk boyfriend and is facing a crisis when she unwittingly crosses into faerie.
This is the best of Charles de Lint's fanstasy Urban Faerie work. Here the world we know lies cheek to jowl with the fantastic realm of faerie. And he makes it work so congruently, it's just great stuff. This is the writing that made his fame.
And it's a great story. Jacky and her pals are loveable, interesting people in fantastic circumstances. There are giants to be dealt with, the Unseelie court to be fought and the laird's daughter to be rescued - all against terrible odds. The pacing is very tight, signature de Lint, and it's literally a story you just can't put down until you read the last word. The second story is pretty good, too.
I'm a great fan of this author, and this is one of my all-time favorites. Five stars and a pat on the back for some excellent story-telling.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2014
Started my first Charles de lint book, Moonheart, in 1984 and enjoyed all the fantasy novels Charles de Lint wrote around Canada's capital city Ottawa, over the years until he created the town of Newford. Jack of Kinrowan is the reason I found my beautiful house in Ottawa, and have recently bought the book to share with my teenagers. I have just reread Mulengro: A Romany Tale, as I stumbled on the old paperback during a recent move to the GTA, and enjoyed it as much as I did in 1985. My all time favourite Charles de Lint book is Svaha from 1989. I would love to reread it, hopefully it will be released in kindle edition.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2013
Really a few for just the first novel in the duology. A fast moving action filled myth based urban fantasy, following the Jack the Giant Killer legend, but with a combination of characters from faerie and the 'real' world. Set in Ottawa, Tamson Hose gets a passing mention for those folks familiar with his 'Ottawa and the Valley' books. A fast moving page turner. Does De Lint have any books with male protagonists, he seems to prefer writing girls. My 7th Straight De Lint book in a row. I'll read the second book in the series when it shows up in the mail.