Charles De Lint: A Master of Fantasy

Charles de Lint effortlessly weaves ancient mythology and traditional fairy tales with realistic, every day events. His stories don’t take place in the wooded wilds of Albion or the mystical shores of Narnia; instead, they take place on the city streets of Newford, a Canadian city of his own creation.

De Lint lifts fairy courts out of starlit mushroom rings and plops them down in the middle of abandoned shopping malls. Gnomes and gremlins show up inside abandoned cars and mermaids inhabit reflecting pools in city parks.

A regular cast of characters infuses his stories with a sense of fluency and familiarity. No matter which of his novels or story collections you pick up, know that Jilly Coppercorn, Geordie and Christopher Riddell, and the Crow Girls are probably going to make an appearance. If you stumble upon one of his independent works, don’t worry. The plots are so character driven that you’ll be rooting for them in no time.

Books like “Medicine Road,” “Blue Girl,” and “The Little Country” may have no mention of De Lint’s usual suspects, but they’re just as rich as his Newford tales. Instead of using magic and fantasy to create problems for the characters, he paints portraits of already-troubled teens, women, men and werewolves with real problems. That’s right. De Lint gives even werewolves believable and pithy issues. The magical aspects of the resulting stories hardly ever help the characters solve their problems. Rather, the magic reflects and enhances things about the protagonists that could use some work. Somehow, they always come out of their fantastic misadventures stronger. They still have issues with family, friends, money and work, but their mystical experiences help them face those problems head-on.

If you’re looking for an author who can write dynamically, without using genre as a crutch, Charles de Lint is your man. No doubt, he could write compelling plots without infusing them with magic and mystery. On the other hand, when he’s this good, why would he want to?

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