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Moonheart Paperback – February 15, 1994
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From Library Journal
Canadian de Lint put himself on the fantasy map with this 1984 novel that shifts between the Wales of yore and the Ottawa of today. A mythical fantasy for all large collections.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“He shows that, far from being mere escapism, contemporary fantasy can be the deep mythic literature of our time.” ―Fantasy and Science Fiction
“Charles de Lint is a folksinger as well as a writer and it is this voice we hear...both new and old, lyric, longing, touched by magic.” ―Jane Yolen
“A finely textured song of a tale of power, wonder, and suspense. Keenly felt, satisfying, fully realized, its essence lingers when the reading's done.” ―Roger Zelazny
“Mr. de Lint's handling of ancient folklore to weave into an entirely new pattern has never, to my knowledge, been equalled.” ―Andre Norton
“For more than a decade, Charles de Lint has enjoyed a reputation as one of the world's leading fantasists, thanks largely to his enchanting 1984 novel Moonheart.” ―Toronto Star
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I strongly recommend all of Charles de Lint's books. I was delighted to see them coming out in electronic format, as physical limitations make it difficult to read p-books now. de Lint books occupy 48 inches of bookshelf in my library, including this one in a large paperback format.
Unfortunately, I can't recommend THIS edition of the ebook - if you can read physical books, get it in paper format. There are pages missing, and words misinterpreted... For example - in the ebook edition, chapter 1 ends with the sentence "Would you rather I just left all this stuff in the back, then?" In my paper book, ISBN 0-312-89004-4, chapter 1 has 4.5 more pages. In the ebook edition, in chapter 2, describing the guests in the house, there is this sentence: "One evening a whole troupe of carnies descended on the House, bailing everyone with their conversation..." That made no sense to me no matter how I looked at it so I looked at the paper edition - "bailing" should have been "baffling". The notes indicate that there was a fix. I'm sorry to say that it was not fixed enough.
The story is about two Celtic druids, locked in an ages long feud finally having their final encounter in the modern world, and how the inhabitants of Tamson House--a researcher, a biker and her lover, a gardener, Sam (not really sure what he was) and a very special girl named Sara--the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the Horsemen), an evil corporate leader (aren't they all?) and his henchmen and a few other assorted magical creatures, Indians and a demon.
This book is all about discovering you "Way" to magic, and maybe more importantly, to understanding. Not only the mysteries that surround you, but of yourself. It does get bogged down at times as characters dither and contemplate what's happening to them--sometimes endlessly and with a few repeats. Much time was spend on a secondary character, who when the books starts seemed like he would be a main protagonist but turns out to be less impactful to the story than I would have expected--and the number of pages dedicated to his story would imply. Still, his storyline was the most mature so I appreciated that.
Sara goes through a lot in this story, as would make sense as the main character. She has the furthest to go. Unfortunately there is a key moment towards the end, where I believe some very real personal transformations are happening that we given surprising little time on paper. Trying not to give too much away she seems to transform from the rawest beginner, to something of a badass while we were distracted with the other action happening around here. Maybe a lack of focus on the main character? Maybe a realization that any personal realizations she was going through had already been hashed through a couple of times? Not sure.
But with any critique I tend to focus on the flaws, when this is really several hundred pages of beautiful prose with real characters who you get to know, and feel, fear and cheer for. The story is imaginative and full of Mystery, discovery and danger. The twist towards the end was unexpected, though a little telegraphed--did you see it?
If you love urban fantasy, then you owe it to yourself to read this one. It really was one of the first, and remains one of the best.
I mainly gave the three star review because I didn't find the character development all that engaging -- the good guys were a tad to good and the bad guys were practically twirling their mustaches at times. Also, while the big villains backstory is pretty excellent, it never felt particularly threatening throughout the novel. It seemed powerful but handicapped by some pretty incompetent lackeys at times.
Given that this is one of de Lint's earlier novels, I don't see the character development as a big issue -- writers grow with time along with their views on morality and I could easily see his later novels having deeper characterization as part of their core. Overall, it's a good if not great book.
I read this book in the eighties and have been looking for a copy ever since. I wasn't disappointed when I read it again.