Charles de Lint,
(1986; Orb Books, 1997)

The cool greens of the forest on the cover pulls you in. The creature in the leaves hints at a hidden side of reality that can have a darker shade as Charles de Lint's heroine, Cat Midhir, discovers in Yarrow. The Orb trade paperback is a reissue of Delint's 1986 novel that followed Cat's struggle to save the Otherworld, her friends, and her own life.

Cat is an author whose plots and characters come from her vivid dreams. Cat has visited this dreamscape, the Otherworld, since she was young. There she met Kothlen, a bard who gave her a secret name, Yarrow. Recently, however, Cat has stopped dreaming and finds she can no longer write. As she struggles to break her writer's block, strange things begin to happen. The shadowy Lysistratus stalks Cat, hoping to steal the soul of a true dreamer. And Cat discovers that the Otherworld is not a product of her dreams, but a real place to which she is deeply connected.

Along with her friends from the "real" world and a gnome named Tiddy Mun from the Otherworld, Cat has to face Lysistratus in order to save them all. In true fantasy style, the fight requires Cat to face the truths within.

Charles de Lint does some of his best character work in Yarrow. All the characters are strongly drawn, even the minor ones who only appear to be killed by Lysistratus. Through his use of imagery, de Lint takes the reader effortlessly into the Otherworld, which is so richly depicted that the reader believes its reality before Cat accepts it.

Although the plot may seem to mirror a number of other fantasy novels (girl enters dream world, discovers it's real and faces evil to save everyone), the strong characters and settings become very real to the reader and the end isn't certain until the last page has been turned. You care about de Lint's characters and fight with them every step of the way.

review by
Tammy Dotts

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