Charles de Lint,
The Little Country
(William Morrow & Co., 1991)

I must begin straightaway by telling you that this is the first book I've read by Charles de Lint; it will not be the last. Infusing the everyday world with a hint of mystique that is completely believable, de Lint weaves a story-within-a-story that hits the ground running. Paradoxical to the mythical quality of the work is the amount of research invested in this book. Cornish myth and legend form the backbone of an inviting escape into the villages of Mousehole and Bodbury.

Janey Little is a person with whom any avid reader can truly relate. While puttering around in her grandfather's attic, this young musician finds a book by her favorite author that has been secreted away for years. What a treat! But why was it published in an edition of only one?

Jodi Shepherd is, like most adolescents, bored with her life. As she puts it, "If our lives are all books ... then someone's torn a few pages from mine." However, when the local witch catches Jodi sneaking around her cottage, Jodi's opinion of adventure changes forever.

Following Janey and Jodi's stories with fervor, one soon discovers that the central point of this yarn is about the magical book that binds these two women's worlds together. Both stories move quickly but are easy to follow even though the narrative alternates between them. The descriptions of the characters and their surroundings inscribe them into one's mind without effort. De Lint's prose regarding the countryside is true to life. If you've ever touched a stone standing in an ancient ring, the buzz in the air that he describes will be familiar to you. Surrounded by these ancient stones, feeling connected with those who erected them, and realizing the almost incomprehensible age of the land around you is an astonishing experience that de Lint captures with absolute precision. His prose makes it easy to believe in the magical music that weaves all of our lives together.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Little Country for many reasons, the foremost of which was the chance to partake in a fantastic escape. However, don't be fooled by the idea of a light, fluffy diversion; there is a lesson to learn in this story, and discovering it was a huge treat. I will definitely be adding more from Charles de Lint to my bookshelf.

[ by Carie Morrison ]
Rambles: 30 March 2002

Buy it from