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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Widdershins (2006) Charles de Lint

Widdershins is the latest book by Charles de Lint, and I debated for about a month as to whether I wanted to buy it in hardback or wait for it to come out in paperback. First there was the fact that I own Spirits in the Wires and Tapping the Dream Tree in hardback. But the biggest deciding factor was knowing that this book was about Jilly and Geordie.

Although Jilly’s story was resolved at the end of The Onion Girl, things weren’t really that great, and I was really hoping that things would get better for her.

Although this book is ostensibly about Jilly and Geordie, the greater part of the story–and the most difficult part of the story–was about Jilly. Jilly is still not fully recovered from her accident, and is told that she may not fully recover until she finally deals with her past, and the abuse she suffered.

Geordie already has, to a great degree, dealt with his past. He and Christie have attempted to deal with their past, and to maintain a relationship and friendship that neither thought they could ever have. However, he must also deal with the fact that all of his past relationships have failed.

Meanwhile, tensions are brewing between the spirits who are native to the land, and the faerie who came over from Europe. Certain groups are bidding for power, while others are seeking revenge, and the fiddler Lizzie and her band are accidentally caught up in the hostilities.

As usual, this was a story that sucked me in almost immediately, and I hard a hard time putting it down. Of course I feel that way about all of Charles de Lint’s writing, but this book was no exception.

I was trying to decide whether you could read this book without having read and previous Newford stories, and decided that although you probably could, it most likely wouldn’t mean as much–especially the bits about Jilly. She’s been through so much, that you can’t help but cheer her on, and I’m not sure how much of that you’d feel if this was your first introduction to her. So although most Charles de Lint books can stand on their own, I’m not sure that I would recommend this without reading at least The Onion Girl.

Very strangely, the end of this book felt almost like a conclusion to the Newford stories. Several loose ends were tied up by the end of the book, which was surprising. I’m not saying that all Charles de Lint stories are depressing, but they typically have a dark (sometimes very dark) thread running through them, and there is typically not the happy ending you would expect. This story is dark–after all, we’re dealing with Jilly’s past, but the overall feel of the book was not as dark as many earlier books.

All in all, what I liked best about Widdershins was the resolution of some story arcs, and the fact that we get to see Jilly deal with some of her issues that were unresolved.

Plus, the Crow Girls.

If you have not read any other books by Charles de Lint, I recommend starting with one of his anthologies, and then coming back and reading this after you’ve gotten to know Newford and it’s characters better. I think you’ll enjoy the story better that way.

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