20

Moonheart by Charles de Lint

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

The Moon and the HeartMoonheart the Book

Moonheart is a wonderful intermingling of Welsh Celtic and North American Indian Shamanism woven into modern mystic beliefs and set in a field of the ‘normal’ everyday world. It pulses with the traditions of the old and new cultures knit together, with good and evil facing off.

Charles de Lint defines Urban Fantasy, is one of my all-time favourite authors and I love his books. I still haven’t found one that I don’t like.

Moonheart was the first one I read many years ago.  Mainly I love it because the pace is so varied and he doesn’t depend on constant thrills and spills.  In many places emotion and a nostalgia are slowly woven into a pattern of the now and the dreamtime, the primeval and the dawn of time.

I have just re-read Moonheart.  And I still find his blending of the Now and Dreamtime masterful and seamless.  Moonheart is just a wonderful read.

Moonheart’s Tamson House

The House is the vanishing point; the place where the threads of now meet and then diverge into the threads of the dreamtime; the roads of the Otherworld.  Or from another perspective, come from the Dreamtime to the Now. Two places breathing side by side mostly unknown to the beings of Now and Then: meeting at places like the House.

Tamson House, on a city block in Ottawa, is a mystery that is quietly waiting, at this point in the Here and Now, to fulfil its purpose for being. Charles de Lint has caught the mood of Ottawa perfectly (most likely as he lives there and breaths it’s atmosphere daily).

Tamson House is a house I would love to visit and maybe stay awhile.

At the centre of the house is a wonderful garden perhaps the anchor between the house and the large glade with the primal forest surrounding it.

Tamson House is part of the family. And all the residents are part of Tamson House and therefore the family. And most of the residents change at will, staying for a while and then moving on. Any eccentric in town usually finds their way to Tamson House. One never knows who is living there at any point in time.

Artefacts with Quarter Moon and AntlersMedicine bags in Moonheart

The catalysts that start the tale for the Tamsons are the ancient artefacts in a medicine bag found in a dusty old box  in the Tamson’s antique shop.

These are the legacy from an old friend of Jamie Tamson who was a historian with a bent for anthropology originally from, you guessed it, Wales. As per the house they have a specific role not only as catalysts but of pivot points that focus Moonheart.

The artefacts turn up unexpectedly (go figure don’t they always) and their influence on events starts almost immediately.Moonheart Bard & Shaman

Even a touch of them produces a feeling of being elsewhere. Or in fact several elsewhere as the feelings swirl through ancient Celtic antiquity and First Nation sensations.

Moonheart Interlacing Filaments

Several influences occur in Moonheart interlacing Welsh Celtic Fantasy with Urban and Dark Fantasies. As often with Celtic Fantasy the bard and, druid are competing forces. The magician, his apprentice, and the house warriors from the Now, and the Otherworld shamans and warriors weave into the story. And are there any other influences? Read on my friend and follow through the story’s trail.

The book touches on these in such a manner that the true nature is not revealed until you approach the tale’s end.

A mantle of drummers, medicine men, wise ones, medicine bags and tricksters forms the indigenous peoples’ role; one which folds over and embraces the Celtic role.Artifacts in the Moonheart Mist

And both cultures contribute to the evils encountered.

The original discordance in this adventure emits and centres on the two Celtic figures. And there is a real twist to this. The dark side is aided and abetted to by the malignant characters in today’s and the Otherworld’s First Nation worlds.

De Lint writes with a cutting edge with regard to the nature of these characters.

Clan Moonheart

Two distinct main sub-clans, the Now and the Dreamtime, run through this Urban Fantasy.  And not all players within each sub-clan agree with each other. You could say each sub-clan is divided into opposing sides. This makes for some interesting interaction between the good and not so good guys and no small amount of swallowing pride, or hiding objectives, takes place so they can try to work together. They do not always succeed.

We have the cops and the robbers. The normal, the paranormal and the wishful non-paranormals.  What a mix for this grand fantasy. And through all of this there is the music; the drums, the harp and the guitar.

In one corner we have the earthlings. In the other corner we have the other earthlings! After all, the characters are all facets of this one earth.

Theme Moonheart

Moonheart’s cast has been well chosen.  Each character is important to some degree within Moonheart’s weave. Often in yarns, characters are thrown in but henceforth pale into insignificance. Not here. Even with a small role there is a purpose for everyone.Moonheart's villain

My main bad guy is, most likely, going to be quite different than yours. This character in fact stays mostly in the background. He does not put himself at risk but works through subordinates. And he easily finds them among the people who want power or think they are hard done by. These characters often are weak enough to be controlled by those who want to increase their power by whatever means possible.

In fact this guy is the catalyst behind how this story unfolds. There would still be a story but the means and actions would have been much different without him. And this fellow is very prevalent in today’s society.

Without this fellow a good chunk of the baddies would disappear. Moonheart would have been somewhat different then and a bit unbalanced.

However the secondary bad guy is only marginally less evil. The challenge is to determine who this is!

The two corrupt influences, one of modern power and one of magical power, do in fact clash as they are definitely not pursuing the same result. So the question is ‘Where is the danger coming from this time’? That often adds to the tempo of this tale.

As for team Moonheart, they are hit from two directions. With the mix in the team and the abilities of each they learn to act together and from active initial dislike they learn to work together. A good proposal for today’s society.

And of course there is Tamson House. There is a good chance that without the House this tale would not have come to be. Or it would be played out elsewhere and perhaps never known to we mortals.

The Power of the Moon and the Heart

Through the tale runs the quarter moon and the hart’s antlers. Does this equate to the Moon and HeartHarp, Drum, Guitar Instruments of Moonheart of the title? Maybe or maybe not.  The heart might link to the shaman drums,  the earth’s heartbeat. Does it matter? Why should it as it is all in the readers point of interpretation and that is how a book should be. During my schooling, the literature teachers were always expounding on what is the author trying to tell us. Most of the time I think the ‘what’ was only the teachers opinions. One day I decided to write this on my review. I was told off in no uncertain  terms. Years later I came across something this author said about the book in question. And guess what it was. He was not trying to tell us anything or direct our thoughts. He just wrote the book for enjoyment. What a buzz that was! Unfortunately I was out of school and university so couldn’t rub it in to various  teachers. And that was probably for the best.

Tales are told to engage a person, to tell each an individual story and let the music of the earth, moon and universe in.

Moonheart accomplishes this for me.

Follow the Heart and Moon; the Silver LadyMoon and Hart-min

Moonheart is an exceptional novel both slow and fast paced. The intermingling of slow and fast allows the story to relax you and then hit you in the face with breathtaking ferocity.

The climax builds up with each change in pace until it reaches a thoroughly satisfactory conclusion. But this ending has impacts that do emotionally affect you.

The best way to get full enjoyment of this Charles de Lint book is to obtain an eBook copy for yourselves and then read to your heart’s content. (Oh look potential pun!) This book along with others can also be found at Booktopia. So if, like me you still like books, you can obtain a copy from Booktopia.

As an aside you might like to try de Lint’s other urban fantasy, and mind you he has written quite a few. Just check out Kobo eBooks or the Booktopia library for more of his work. If you want a starting point try ‘Dreams Underfoot’, the first Newford book. Newford is the setting or peripheral setting of many of de Lint’s books and these can be read out of order. However often characters are referred to so orderly reading will keep you from asking yourselves ‘now where did they come from!”.

Now once you have read these (or in fact any other great books) please comment and give me your thoughts. I love to meet like minded people and get new suggestions. So I look forward to hearing from all and sundry.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Helen

20 Comments

  1. Hello Helen, I enjoyed this review. While it is not a genre I enjoy, I was struck by the review. Thorough to be sure. But I wonder if it’s the story or the author that receives such high praise. I know I have favorites, but from time to time read things that don’t stack up. I noticed the subtle comment about the artifacts showing up. ‘don’t they always’

    Good job. one day i may break down and read this. We’ll see, Thanks for caring about fictions. It’s a passion of mine too. Robert

    • Robert thanks for commenting on this post. I too find lots of times things don’t stack up in stories. While reading some books I end up going back frequently to check things only to find contradictions. With series of books I have read some authors say changes aren’t important but I really disagree with that. In one well known dragon series one character and his dragon changed, to become more important, in each subsequent book his character was in.

      It would be nice if you did have a look at this book or others by Charles de Lint as I think you would enjoy them. With urban fantasy there is a feel that the story could be real. And in this case both the book and author, to me, that get praise.

      Feel free to return and browse my site again. I would love to hear from you.

      Cheers, Helen

  2. Moon heart. It definitely sounds like a fiction book. I must admit after reading the review Kinda wanted to keep right on reading. There is one problem that I have though. I don’t think it worth my while to read fiction story books. I read books like, Think and grow rich. 7 habits of highly effective people. And other books in that category. Anything else is a waste of time. Torrey

    • A waste of time maybe, but every one needs a break sometime and immersing yourself in fantasy is like entering a warm bath to relax. I have a great assortment of books including those like the ones you mention. Like anything though you have to be in the mood.

      So if my review tempted you to keep reading why not try a fantasy for once.

      Thanks for your comment and feel free to come back and comment anytime.

  3. Hi Helen,

    Moonheart by Charles de Lint sounds like a fantastic read. I have always loved Science Fiction novels and this one has the Celtic flair which is another weakness of mine. Your Moonheart review was quite extensive and gives us a real insight into this awesome new novel. I’m looking forward to a solid night of endless reading where I”m taken away to another place and can temporarily escape the world as we know it.

    Thanks!
    Pj

    • Hey PJ, it isn’t exactly a new novel but is ever fresh to me! Escapism, that is me to a T. I do live in today but do need to get away sometimes. I turn myself off when I read, much to my partner’s disgust. He thinks I am going deaf. But it is actually selective deafness. It’s leave me alone I don’t want to listen to anyone!

      I do hope you enjoy this book but do try some of his other ones. I like all of them.

      Thanks for this comment and have a great day.

  4. great post! isnt it a beautiful things when great writers just create captivating stories with no side line motives for our Lit professors to take the fun out of.

    i work at a bookstore and ill be sure to let all my fellow sci-fi fantasy fans know about your reviews! keep up the great work!

    • I loved literature at high school. Our English lit teacher was in fact an archaeologist. Her husband, a mining engineer, was given a job in the town where I lived. When she taught the classics, very often she had actually done an ‘dig’ at the story’s site. And she acted out the story too. Once she was doing a sword fight down the hall and she didn’t stop in time and fell down the stairs. Fortunately not too many steps and she was ok.

      Thanks for commenting here and please feel free to visit my site anytime.

  5. Wow. I absolutely love sci-fi. Your reviews are deep and I absolutely love your images. Did you create those?

    • Brooke, did you by any chance write another comment on this? I like to exchange comments if possible. I do try to create images. I can draw but not on the computer. My scanner isn’t working so I use Canva to compose my images. I am getting better but don’t think I will ever look professional!

  6. Hi Helen.
    How incredibly refreshing to review such a unique website. I love your style of writing in your book reviews. You give just enough information to pull the reader in without ruining the story. I’m hooked. Love your images.

    The layout is simple and yet the strong black header with green title is perfect. And the font and color for the header menu is easy to see and navigate and yet fits with the mysteriousness of your niche.

    Love your friend in your photo under “About Helen”. I can see him/her/it diving into the stories with you.

    Your sight was easy to navigate. I notices that content is protected, all of the links work. You definitely have a strong niche for affiliate advertising. Excited to follow you.

    Thank you for making my day.

    Brooke

    • Wow Brooke what a write up. I must admit I love it.

      My little friend is a female brush tail possum. Her mother used to come to the back door for an evening snack, a baby on her back. One night we heard her there but when we went out she wasn’t in sight. But her baby was trying to climb up a weed. So we put her in an enclosure with some lactose free milk and left her outside just in case mum came back. She didn’t, so baby became Matilda, Aussie slang for a swag (aka backpack), and every night she went around on my back. After she returned to the bush she used to come up on the veranda each night for a visit.

      About the amount of information, I find it discouraging when everything is laid out on a plate for me. I like to wonder until the end. So that is how I try to write. I am glad it is working.

      Feel free to come back and browse any time.

      Cheers, Helen

  7. Sounds like an interesting tale. The struggle between good and bad, sometimes not realizing who’s the good guy and which is bad keeps you attached to your seat.
    I am a pretty big science fiction fan myself. You seem to have painted in words a detailed picture of the story. Good read, Thanks

    • Hi Jason thanks for your comments. I certainly agree about not knowing who is who until the end. That means you can frequently change your own thoughts right through the story.

      I hope the picture painting wasn’t too detailed as I hate to ruin a good read as I like suspense. It’s like wanting to see a movie but everyone tells you about it so what’s the point in going.

  8. Hello Helen, Your blog on Moonheart by Charles de Lint is very interesting. It kind of reminds me of a series of books by Stephen King that I have read several years ago. The books were called “the Gunslinger” and had a fantasy feel like “Moonheart”. The idea of traveling through different worlds or dimensions intrigues me. Your description of the book and the way that its is written makes it sound like Moonheart is right up my alley. I will definitely be looking into this authors work.

    • Now Curlyflash, you wouldn’t happen to have two pooches by these names would you! Thanks for your comments. Both my partner and I have read quite a few Stephen King books, he more so than I.

      Charles de Lint writes generally in the urban fantasy vein but there is a good variance over this genre and I am sure you will find some you really like. So go forth and read!

  9. Hello Helen!

    I like to have a good dose of science fiction from time to time. Sometimes with life you want to escape to a good science fiction fantasy. I think it’s great you’re using your passion for science fiction and creating this website for fellow Syfy Lovers.

    In regard to the books I have not read any. Actually I have not been doing that much reading. Your book review have encouraged me to start reading again. It’s imperative I start reading again as I’m currently writing my first book. A writer must read to write. Perhaps I will try Moonheart it sounds interesting.

    Overall I enjoy your site! I look forward to seeing it grow. I wish you luck with your business. Take care!

    Cheers,
    Francesca

    • Francesca, thanks for this well thought out comment. I find it hard to actually obtain any other type of book as most other categories just seem to be repeats of the same story. Some authors have fooled me. Nora Roberts, a romance writer, is one. I wrote a review of her circle trilogy and I have read that several times as it turned out to be a great little fantasy.

      Feel free to visit at anytime and browse around.

  10. Hi Helen,
    You and the author – not sure who to extol first! Your review is very comprehensive and captivating. I’m not familiar with this genre but I can read anything and everything because I believe learning comes from any situation.
    I like your take on the ‘baddies’ – controlling and always hanging out in the background, which mirror real life situations. This is a great review and job well done!

    • Thanks Chuka, I think Charles is the basis for the extolling but I certainly am aiming at his level of writing. Who knows I might even get close to him. I like to try reading different genres including non-fiction. I always fall back on my genre here because I can really use my imagination when reading it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *