Read for the Mythopoeic Awards Reading Challenge.
Charles de Lint is probably best known for his books set in the city of Newford, but this novel, one of his earliest, is set between Ottawa and the forests of the Otherworld. It was very much a story of the old world vs the new world, and having recently read American Gods, made an interesting contrast.
The book starts out very strongly, introducing us to Jamie Tams, and his niece Sara Kendall, residents of Tamson House, a sprawling house that takes up an entire block in Ottawa. It’s the kind of house that seems to go on forever, and you never know quite who you’re going to meet there.
Into this mix comes Kiernan Foy, and his mentor Thomas Hengwr, both wizards. Before too much longer, Tamson House, and a number of interesting characters including the bard Taliesin, are caught up in a battle that spans time and worlds. It’s hard to know exactly who the enemy is, or how that enemy will be defeated.
I very much enjoyed the beginning of this book, but got a little bit bogged down toward the end. This is not to say that the story didn’t end well, but it somehow seemed to lack some sort of polish that the author’s later books have. But, it’s entirely possible I’m just being picky because I have been exposed to a number of the author’s later books. I can definitely see where the de Lint is playing with the themes he later uses in the Newford books.
This is definitely an enjoyable read, and might be a good introduction for someone that doesn’t want to try and find the logical place to start in the Newford books. (Though I feel compelled to note that The Little Country would also fulfill this criteria, and boasts a thoroughly satisfying ending as well.)