Charles de Lint,
Dreams Underfoot
(Tor, 1995)

To read one of Charles de Lint's books is to peek inside of Faerie, and after reading one, a piece of that Land is lodged forever in my heart. Dreams Underfoot is a collection of stories set in Newford, Charles de Lint's mythical city, and its environs, both magical and mundane.

I say mythical, but Newford is sometimes more real to me than any other place I've been. The stories in this fat volume are all wonderful, but I will pick and choose among them and include my favorites. Each of these stories are a whole unto themselves, but together they piece together the crazy quilt that is Newford -- from "Freewheeling," a poignant story of bikes with minds of their own and a life that should have been longer, to "Our Lady of the Harbour," a wonderfully sad retelling of "The Little Mermaid." These stories connect in ways that tug at your heart and make you look more deeply for the magic in your own life.

I have favorite stories in Dreams Underfoot, and some that aren't so favorite, but none that I dislike enough to mention. I will say this: Every story, every book I've read by Charles de Lint has touched me in some way -- his words make me care very deeply for his characters and their surroundings.

Favorite contents of Dreams Underfoot include:

"Uncle Dobb's Parrot Fair" -- makes you think of magic in the flocks flying overhead, preparing for winter. "The Stone Drum" -- royalty can be anything, or anyone, in disguise. "Timeskip" -- a sad story of unrequited love and loss, of a ghost, of time. "That Explains Poland" -- a bigfoot hunt, where the monster they were looking for wasn't exactly as monstrous as they expected. "Winter Was Hard" -- a bittersweet story, one of my favorites in this book. " Ghosts of Wind and Shadow" -- in my opinion, any story with Meran and Cerin Kelledy in it is worth reading just because of the characters. Wonderful!

"The Tree of Tales" -- another of my favorites, and it makes me want to go out and read stories to the ancient beech tree in the back of my house. "The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep" -- Sophie and Jilly are two of my favorite characters; and the "Land of Dreams" is a subject I can't get enough of. "In the House of My Enemy" -- really made me think about all the people in the world who don't have any magic, no dreams, no future. "But for the Grace Go I" -- and this one gave me hope for those people who think they have no magic, no dreams and no future. "Paperjack" -- a companion story to "Timeskip," describing what happened next. Another weeper.

Also included in Dreams Underfoot are "The Conjure Man," "Romano Drom," "The Sacred Fire," "Pity the Monsters," "Small Deaths," "Bridges" and "Tallulah."

[ by Jennifer St. Clair ]

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