Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dingo by Charles de Lint

Miguel is working at his father’s music store the day he first meets Lainey. She’s got a red curly mass of hair, a beautiful smile, an Australian accent, and a large dog that doesn’t seem to like Miguel all that much. He knows he’s smitten with her, but little does he know that she’s going to change his entire world.

The story centers on Miguel, an upright ethical fellow who isn’t afraid to do the right thing, even though it does make him a touch sanctimonious at times. Johnny, the town bad boy, who has the reputation and low expectations one would expect. Lainey, the girl who upsets their world and her dog, which is actually a dingo…or perhaps more accurately is so much more than just a dingo.

This is the first de Lint book that I’ve read that does not take place in his fictional city of Newford. It surprised me, but doesn’t actually have any bearing on the story, I just found it interesting because I was expecting a return trip. It features Australian folklore, magic, transformations, morality, and love. All in all, this one is one of the best and most original fantasies that I’ve read in a long time. De Lint has that talent of writing stories that aren’t overwhelmed by the fantasy elements. They just seem organic and plausible in a way that other authors can’t accomplish. So not only do they appeal to the fantasy fans, but it also makes them completely accessible to readers who aren’t into fantasy.

One thing I want to mention is that there are no chapters. Not a one. There are some line breaks in the story that occur at natural stopping points, but no chapters. Isn’t that strange? The book is such a quick read I was almost finished before I even realized it. It actually felt sort of like a 200 page short story. The writing just flows and the language is beautiful, clear, and well developed. You’re finished reading before you know it!

The cover is also stunning and totally relevant to the story. I do fear that it will keep boys away from reading this which would be a shame because it features such great male characters.

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