Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Review: _Forests of the Heart_ by Charles de Lint

A frozen city lies crippled by a punishing ice storm. Dangerous spirits roam the streets threatening several people. These people must band together to stop the a dangerous monster full hate set loose on the world. Charles de Lint weaves another exciting tale set in the mythical city of Newford with the novel called Forests of the Heart. Setting, characters and plot blend to crate a gripping story that entertains readers.

The setting creates a strong sense of wonder with its concrete and fantasy atmosphere. Though a creation of the author, the city of Newford is described vividly to make it seem a real city of the modern day world. People hold jobs and live through everyday problems such as dealing with winter weather. Newford also has its fantastical side with the magical beings and creatures that wander its streets. This book mixes the images of Newford with images of the desert land of southern Arizona. Native American mythology adds to the setting more striking images that enhances the story. Mr. de Lint provides an excellent setting for the characters to live in.

Next, the characters are realistic, which allows reader to like them and keep reading. The author creates characters with problems that increase when the spirit world intrudes in their lives. Betinna comes for Arizona with inherited powers of a healer. She is torn about how her magic affects her life. Ellie is a sculptor with an unknown strong talent for magic who gets pulled into accepting strangeness in the world. Hunter is a record store owner dealing with a failed relationship. Then there are Miki and Donal, a brother and sister with a tragic past. These characters are brought to life my Mr. de Lint’s talent to create sympathetic characters.

Finally, the plot contains suspense and wonder that makes the book gripping until the end. Winter is harsh in Newford. The story begins when Ellie gets a card from a mysterious stranger for an artist’s colony. She is given a commission to remake a mask. Spirits called the Gentry want the mask to take the land away from the local spirits. This conspiracy draws in the other characters into a dangerous battle in the spirit world. Events get nastier when Donal lets loose an ancient, monster spirit on the world. Mr. de Lint keeps the action coming and the plot tight. His use of Celtic and Native American mythologies adds wonder that keeps the story gripping.

In the end, Forests of the Heart by Charles de Lint is an excellent addition to his city of Newford books. The book is a gripping, entertaining read due to the setting, characters and plot. Mr. de Lint uses different mythologies to bring the spirit world to life with vivid descriptions and action. Readers will remain hooked until the poignant, satisfying climax of the book.

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