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Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Dreaming Place - Charles de Lint

Read for the 2009 YA Reading Challenge.

I’ve read a number of de Lint’s books (mostly of the Newford persuasion), but this the first young adult book of his that I’ve read. Coincidentally, it was the first young adult book that he wrote.

Nina and Ash are cousins, and have been sharing a room since Ash’s mother died several years ago. Ash has been sullen and unfriendly, locked up in her grief since that time. Lately, Nina has been having strange dreams where she finds herself stuck in the bodies of animals, unable to get out. Because of Ash’s attitude, Nina assumes that it’s Ash’s fault. What Nina doesn’t know is that Ash is the one person that can save her from the manitou spirit trying to take Nina’s soul. Per usual, the author mixes Native American and Celtic myth, into a story about growing up.

One of the things I really enjoy about reading de Lint’s work is his references to contemporary culture. This book was published in 1990, which puts it right at the beginning of my teen years, so the actor and magazine (Sassy!) references are right up my alley.

If you’ve read regular adult de Lint, especially the Newford books, you know how involved his story lines can be, and how many additional characters wander through the pages of other people’s stories. The Dreaming Place is remarkably straightforward compared to this usual fare, and would serve as a good introduction into de Lint, without having to memorize the endless supply of back ground characters. This is actually a Newford book, but without the usual background knowledge assumptions. If anything, I actually found the story a bit too short and compact, but I think I’m biased because I expect something much more layered from de Lint. Short and compact isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


Nymeth said...

I'm glad to hear this would be a good introduction to Newford. I read The Onion Girl last year, and I felt there was a lot I missed out on because I didn't know the character's background stories.

Megan said...

Yeah, coming into the later Newford books cold can be really confusing. I read some of the short story collections first to get myself grounded.