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Generic Urban Faerie: Not de Lint's Best Work
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.