Review: ‘Yarrow: An Autumn Tale’ by Charles De Lint

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Hi! OK, so to continue this brand new blog, let’s start off with a review of ‘Yarrow: An Autumn Tale‘, a fairly slim but thought-provoking novel by one of my favourite authors, fantasy author Charles De Lint. I loved the concept of ‘Yarrow‘- which is more of a novella, really, than a book- and, in many parts, also its execution. De Lint’s description of mythical creatures such as the mysterious antlered forest-goddess, Mynfel, and the story-spinning Fae bard, Kothlen, were both strong and mesmering, as was his description of the author Catlin (‘Cat’) Midhir who willingly wanders- through her own dreams- within their twilight realm, or ‘Otherworld.’ I longed to read Cat’s books, too. However, I felt that the semi-romance between Cat and her human bookshop-owning friend felt ill thought out and dare I say it, contrived- I actually found her ‘friend’ irritating- and some parts didn’t quite make sense.I also found the ‘baddie’ of the piece, the dream-stealing, life-destroying Lysistratus, a bit…wishy-washy. Sure, he’s an archetypal figure of ancient evil, but in my opinion he felt a bit pantomine villain. And why on earth is he called Lysistratus anyway? The name, and the overall character, didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the book, and its subtlety. For me, it seemed a bit farfetched and not fleshed out enough- De Lint, being a real master of this genre, could have pushed the reader further into the fantasy realm, rather than anchoring it to everyday life, which just acted as an abrasive contrast.

I mean, come on, who wants to read about suburbia, when you have elf-lords? And antlered goddesses? And an adorably cheerful little gnome creature (the wonderfully named Tiddy Mun?) The references to the modern day world and all its mundane-ness just left me feeling…blah. It was to be honest, a little boring in parts.  I love De Lint, but although some parts of ‘Yarrow‘ enjoyed, I wouldn’t be reading it again. For a more cohesive De Lint work, I would suggest perhaps his collection of short stories- given an excellent review by me here– or even ‘Forests of the Heart,’ which skilfully weaves in myths and legends from different cultures. Overall though, this is just 3 out of 10 for me. Sorry, Charles! 😦

 

Note: Image is Creative Commons licensed for commercial reproduction

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