Tapping the Dream Tree
collects 18 stories by bestselling contemporary fantasy master Charles de Lint. One story, "The Witching Hour," is original to this volume, with a few others taken from limited-edition chapbooks; the remaining tales have been drawn from an impressive diversity of magazines and anthologies. The stories are set in and around de Lint's mythic, haunted American city of Newford, and fans will recognize several characters from de Lint's popular series.
The powerful story "Ten for The Devil" is a superb choice for an opener: it showcases de Lint's literary strengths and treats of his recurring themes of magic, music, creativity, and human worth. Musician Staley Cross's grandmother has always warned her to be careful when she plays her blue fiddle. But Staley never quite believed that her music could rouse dangerous magic... until one night, playing in a faraway field, she discovers the Devil doesn't only go down to Georgia. First published before the filming of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, "Ten for the Devil" draws upon the same crossroads myth as does the movie, but takes a very different road as it follows Staley's search for her only hope of soul survival: a mysterious bluesman known as Robert. --Cynthia Ward
From Publishers Weekly
When de Lint's magic is working, his characters shine with folksy charisma (The Onion Girl; Moonheart), but a preponderance of the 18 stories in this collection have the familiar denizens of fictional Newford wandering passively through their own tales. The better yarns have the protagonists taking an active role in earning their magical rewards, as in "Granny Weather," in which Sophie saves her boyfriend, Jeck, by using lucid dreaming, personal sacrifice and good sense. However, many of the stories unfold with little drama or conflict. "Ten for the Devil" rambles from field to barroom and back, until the devil is finally foiled by kindness; while in "Big City Littles" and "Second Chances," the right mystical word spoken by Meran Kelledy immediately fixes things. Then there's de Lint's bias against ugly men and petty thieves. Without the mitigating love of a good woman, these men are punished ("Freak," "The Witching Hour"), sometimes even after death. Pretty girls, however, can do no wrong. All the female denizens of Newford appear to have artistic gifts. Just a modicum of good manners and a little spunk earns most of these ladies rich rewards ("Masking Indian," "Trading Hearts at the Half Kaffe Caf," "Seven Wild Sisters"). While some of de Lint's niftier conceits are well utilized, such as the faerie realm created by lucid dreaming, more is to be expected from this World Fantasy Award-winning author than this collection of hazy, lazy tales.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.