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REVIEW | Moonheart by Charles de Lint (Orb)

About a month back I did a post on What Author Haven't You Read But Should. In that article my greatest shame was not having read any books by Charles de Lint. Well now I can certainly say it was an enormous shame that I haven't delved into his work sooner as he took me on an amazing journey though mystical lands and a magical house. Moonheart has been lauded as a modern Urban Fantasy classic. It certainly deserves all the praise it has garnered and more. I was discussing Moonheart with a friend and he asked me who de Lint is like. My response was "he is kind of like an Urban Fantasy version of Robert J. Sawyer." Both Sawyer and de Lint take great strides to create believable characters with deep personality in a fairly contemporary setting. Both also have a tendency to place their stories in Canada and drop in a lot of references to that effect, which can get a bit bothersome at times yet I'm sure other countries get tired of reading about the US as well. And both put out high-quality work regularly. Moonheart is a much more methodical tale than most Urban Fantasy. You won't see sword-wielding heroines battling vampires astride a motorcycle here. This is more akin to a modern mythology as it weaves Celtic and Native American folklore gorgeously into a contemporary locale. Celtic Bard Taliesin's history is used to amazing effect as de Lint weaves his story around that of Taliesin, the Kendell family, and a great evil that has risen. The opening had me hooked, although it is a bit slow going as de Lint has to include a lot of back story and setup to get where he needed to go. Yet everything works beautifully together from his demon-like creatures to the Ogham type Weirdin divination system one of the characters uses which is amazing in and of itself. The story centers on Sarah Kendall, a free spirit and Keiran, an apprentice Wizard of sorts, as they gain power and try to uncover the identity of the mysterious evil that is after Sarah and Kerian's teacher Thomas Hengyr who has a deep history with Taliesin. The narrative switches between many characters in the past and present including minors one, which can get tiresome. I could have done with fewer chapters coming from the many police characters that seemed very pointless. de Lint suffers a bit from wanting to give even minor characters more life than they need or should warrant. However, this same affliction will give you a deeper understanding of the main characters and what they must go through. One of my favorite aspects was de Lint's odd Tamson house, which becomes a character of its own as it spans two worlds and houses an array of equally odd characters. Moonheart is also a rich love story with plenty of action to keep you moving forward. I wish I had found de Lint sooner as I would have probably appreciated him more if he had been my introduction to Urban Fantasy. I give Moonheart 8 out of 10 Hats. I'll definitely be checking out a lot more of de Lint's work in the future. I'd recommend this to anyone in is a fan of mythology melding with the present day. Book Link: US Canada Europe


SKelly said...

I always wanted to make a set of Weirdin for myself after reading the appendix de Lint saw fit to include in the book...

The Mad Hatter said...

It mentions on de Lint's site that he is open to someone developing the Weirdin for real. I wonder if anyone ever has.