Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Mini-Review: Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint

I’ve said it often and I’ll say it again – I really like the writing of Charles de Lint and I think it’s a shame that he’s not discussed more in the online circles I follow. I find his prose to be an ideal expression of mythical feeling in the modern world as it verges on poetry at times. De Lint’s form of Urban Fantasy is to me the standard that all should be reaching for, and I love how it doesn’t fall into the trap of some ‘badass’ supernatural person violently realizing their dominance over some other supernatural entity (good or evil).
Someplace to be Flying (Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon) is set in de Lint’s made up city of Newford and features the interaction of Native American types of mythos interacting with the modern world. De Lint’s approach is great – the writing at the beginning of the book feels rather mundane and uninspired. Everything changes when the two main protagonists come into contact with something strange and otherworldly that literally transforms everything about their lives. De Lint’s writing shifts at this point to a more magical, mythical and poetic prose that follows the characters’ journey into a deeper part of world around them that they had no idea about.
Someplace to be Flying really is a journey on many fronts, possibly even an epic journey, though it will always fall squarely in the urban/mythic fantasy classification (for good or ill). The two main protags, one a young man from the streets with an atypical nice side and the other a reporter who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, journey into the unknown mythic world around them as they predictably fall in love. There are several parallel journeys – two sisters seeking freedom and reunion, a storyteller looking to his past and future, a trickster god seeking a power to remake the world, and others. Through this all is the powerful theme of family and belonging, though not in a traditional sense.
Someplace to be Flying is set in the early 1990s and it will likely feel dated in some places, though it does have the underpinnings of modern urban life – email and even mention of cell phones. However, most of the book takes place with a timeless, if distinctly modern feel of the old interacting with the new.
Every time I read a de Lint book I think that I need to read more of them. And that is the case again here.

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