This review is also available on my blog, Stumptown Books
Short stories, I have decided, are simply not my favorite medium. They don't offer up enough satisfaction or closure, and there's that obscurely frustrating first couple pages of a story when you don't know what is going on, and that happens over and over again. Thankfully all the stories in this case take place in one area, the city of Newford, with a cast of characters that show up repeatedly. Jilly is a great character and I can't wait to see her again, as well as Geordie the fiddle player.
De Lint has this "magic is just out of the corner of your eye if only you knew how to see it" philosophy, which I suppose makes it urban fantasy, but it felt more like folklore. There was no hard-boiled detective making snarky comments, just simple people with problems like the rest of us, turning to fantasy to take care of them. It struck a chord with me that most urban fantasy does not. A few of the stories became rather disturbing, and the best I could compare it to were the heart wrenching passages in Infinite Jest
. Sadly abused young girls and women forced into prostitution telling their childhood stories; they were pretty horrifying. It definitely means Dreams Underfoot
is meant for adults, not young adults.
I was so-so on the book until the third story, Time Skip, that had me sobbing into my burrito at Chipotle. Cilantro and tears: turns out? Not so tasty! Unfortunately I felt that it turned so-so again, and none of the other stories have really stuck with me like that one. I didn't have a desire to go reread any of them immediately. Time Skip has a resolution later on in the book but I didn't like that story nearly so much. It robbed me of some of the original poignancy.
This was my first foray into the magical world of Charles de Lint, and although it will not be counted among my favorite books ever, I still enjoyed it.