I forgot about Charles de Lint. There was a time when I couldn’t get enough of his writing, having picked up Moonheart on a whim, fallen in love with it, and forced it on all my friends who also fell in love with it. Each of us, Karen, Glinda, and I, ordered a hardcover copy from the UK because we had to have the hardcover.
But over time, I turned to other things, other authors, and forgot about the magic of de Lint’s world, which is a shame. It’s a beautiful place where everything is alive, everything has a spirit, a meaning.
In Somewhere in my mind there is a Painting Box de Lint gives us a young woman hungry for a bigger life. She wants to be an artist, but without money or training, she’s not likely to accomplish much. One day she finds an abandoned paint box that had belonged to an artist who worked in the area years earlier. Since he disappeared with an apprentice, his work has become famous, so when Lillian sees the artist’s name on one of the panels, she knows exactly who the box belonged to.
Lillian knows there is magic in the world, she’s experienced it, she expects it. So when she encounters the young apprentice in the woods, looking not a day older than he was when he and the older artist disappeared, she accepts his tale of having crossed into another world, one so beautiful and brilliant that neither he nor the older artist ever needed to paint again.
The second book, Crow Roads, gives us a story set in the past, about a stranger who comes to a small town, antagonizes the boys and challenges one of them to a contest. After he fights with them, he seduces Annie, the narrator of the story, and then disappears.
She knows she’s been touched by magic just as Lillian knows. They understand and accept. But both women find that the encounters put them at crossroads in their lives, and force them to make choices which, even a day earlier, were not remotely available to them.
These are stories about girls becoming their own women, growing, coming to understand who they are, what they want from their lives, and what they have to do to get it.
These are stories about choices, and the not-always-reliable lure of magic. They made me sorry that I’d stopped reading de Lint. But it doesn’t matter, because I’ve begun again. Like meeting an old friend.