Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Dreams Underfoot - how to fall in love with fantasy

Dreams Underfoot was the first major collection of Charles de Lint's short stories, published in 1993, most of which were previously published in short story collections. For me, this was the collection that launched de Lint into public fame as a Canadian writer of urban fantasy. I'm 3/4 of the way through the book, and I'm finding I am delighted all over again with Charles' writing.

I first read this collection in 1993 or 94, when it first came out, and I thought it the best collection of short stories by anyone I had come across. There are no bad stories in this book. Some are stronger, some are better worked out, some have such fabulous stories that I really want them to continue, a few - very few - don't touch me or disappoint because they are different - yes, even a second time around reading, I still get disappointed when I want a story to go one way and it goes another! The wonder of this collection is that it mostly amazes with a gentle touch of wonder. These are real fantasy stories, every one. They are like the gossamer feel of dreams, tiny enchantments, glimpses of a world of wonder and magic that still exist around us. I want to go to Newford. I want to live there!

There are 19 stories in all, and I am on 14, 'The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep.' I like this story just for the title alone! It feels like a song when I say it. I thought that this morning while I was reading it on the bus on the way to work. These short stories are like pieces of music put to the page.

If you are looking for something a little magical and a little dangerous and a whole lot enchanting to take you from Hallowe'en into the Christmas season, this is a book I can reccommend to do just that.

The stories are interconnected, but they can be read and enjoyed separately also. Combined together, they make a lovely interweaving of myth and city legends, glimpses of fairies and magic, wonder, magic and fear - because Faerie is dangerous, and the myths that walk the streets of Newford always change whomever they touch. This is one of the finest collections of fantasy, and I am so enjoying this collection all over again.

18 comments:

Kerry said...

I read this at the beginning of the year and really, really liked it. I've slowly been reading my way through the Newford books since then.

I had read de Lint before, but only Moonheart, which I recall liking but can't remember any more than that.

I'm really enjoying the books, although he can be pretty creepy at times and I can only take creepy in very small doses. Charles de Lint is a fantastic author. I've really like his short stories, and that's saying something as I usually struggle with short stories, but he tends to get them "just right" for me.

Stephanie said...

I have this books checked out from the library right now!! I heart Charles de Lint. In fact, I actually credit him for my love of fantasy. About 4 years ago, my online book club decided to read The Little Country. Until then, I'd read very little fantasy. I was blown away by the book. And started picking up more and more fantasy!!

I read Memory and Dream last year, and it's now on my list of all-time favorites!

I'm so glad to hear this is good!

Jeane said...

Ah! I have so been wanting to read more de Lint. Even though I don't usually like short stories much, this one sounds like a great collection!

jspeyton said...

I heard a lot about Charles de Lint. but I haven't read any of his books yet. I need to change that, asap! This sounds like something right up my alley. Off to locate a copy right now... :)

Daphne said...

Oh, I love this book, and I love Charles de Lint so much! I just finished "Angel of Darkness" which was written under the name Samuel Key (I think) and I didn't love it (review soon) but that is the definitely exception -- I have adored every other thing I've read by him.

Susan said...

Kerry: I'm so delighted you liked it so much! I think anyone who isn't sure they'd like fantasy should try reading this one - they'd either like it or not. I like how you put it that he is 'just right' in his short stories - he is. Which is why I love this collection so much. Moonheart isn't set in Newford, but here in Ottawa. It was the first book I read by him and I loved it. It's due for a reread too!!

Stephanie: Oh wow, I hope you get to read it! I know what your life has been like lately. Little Country as you know is one that I didn't like as much as the Newford books - but I think I'm going to reread it and see if time changes it for me. I am one who read Svaha and Mulengro by him and really enjoyed them also. I heart Charles too! And yaaay to reading more fantasy!! lol

Jeane: I hope you can find this one. I think it is my favourite collection of short stories by him. What have you read by him so far?

jspeyton: I hope you can find it soon! And that you fall in love with his brand of urban fantasy too :-) Ooh, so many good books waiting for you to read! lol

Daphne: Charles wrote horror under Samuel Key - I know of two books under that name, maybe there was a third - which I haven't tried yet, I'm not sure why. I was reading Clive Barker back then, and these were scary just to read the back of the books of! I guess I just preferred his fantasy - I was, and am, so in love with how he writes it. Yaay to another Charles fan! Is there any book you particularly love more than any other?

Kailana said...

Oh no! I meant to buy this book with the gift card I had and I forgot! Will have to make sure and buy it at Christmas...

Daphne said...

Well, aside from Dreams Underfoot, I love: The Little Country, Memory & Dream (a real favorite) and I very much enjoyed The Onion Girl and Widdershins (read in that order). But I have loved everything I've read by him (with the exception of the Samuel Key book(s), which I really didn't like).

Book pusher said...

I will have to read de Lint I love dark and dangerous faerie.

Jeane said...

I read Jack of Kinrowan, a year or so ago. It was pretty good. I have a lot of other titles by him in my TBR list, but just haven't gotten around to them yet.

Julia Smith said...

My husband is a big fantasy fan and a short story fan. I'll put this one on a watch-out-for list.

mariel said...

Lovely review. I have this book in one of my boxes awaiting removal to my new house. I look forward to reading it sometime in the spring!

Literary Feline said...

I have a copy of this that I've been wanting to get to. I've heard its a great place to start for an introduction to de Lint. I am glad to hear it is just as wonderful the second time around. I look forward to reading it.

Hazra said...

I've really been wanting to read de Lint, and this sounds like a great collection!

Susan said...

Kailana: I hope you get it for Christmas then! I'm glad I could remind you of it at least!

Daphne: what did you think of Mulengro? Svaha? Moonheart? they are some of his oldest works, and ones I've enjoyed very much also. Have you read them yet?

Book pusher: I hope you like it! There's also Harp of the Grey Rose (I think his very first book published), and the ones listed for Daphne. Many good faerie books to enjoy!

Jeane: Jack of Kinrowan is one I haven't read yet! It's on my list for the Canadian book challenge, so maybe in January.....

Julia: thank you! It's a compliment when you want to give someone else a book that I recommended!! :-D

mariel: you're moving! where are you going to? congratulations! but sad you have to wait until spring to read this! At least it will help you unpack quicker! I always find I want to unpack my books as soon as I can when I move! I miss them.

Literary Feline: It is a good intro to de Lint. I hope you like it!

Hazra: do you have this book? I hope you can get it :-)

Carl V. said...

This definitely needs to be the next de Lint collection I read. He is such a fantastic author in both the short story and long story format.

mariel said...

I've moved out of my rental house and am staying with a friend, desperately hoping that I can move into the house I am buying before Christmas! Its all quite stressful and taking up a lot of my time, hence why I am still so far behind on my reviews!

Susan said...

Carl: you haven't read this yet? what a treat awaits you! Some of the stories are really very good, among my favourite fantasy stories. And we first meet Geordie, Christie, Jilly, and Sophie here. and Newford. Oh I hope you get to read it soon!

Mariel: How exciting, buying your first house! What a stressful time to do it at, though if you can be in before Christmas/the solstice, then you can welcome the new year in your very own home. I'm in the first house I have ever owned, bought fairly recently, and I'm still getting used to being a homeowner! I love it. Congratulations, Mariel! I hope you let us see some pictures of the new home!