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I like big books.

Widdershins (Newford)

Widdershins - Charles de Lint Two upfront disclaimers: One, I am not a fan of urban fantasy. I think it's a real kitschy genre and I've never been able to take it seriously. Two, I never read any of the previous books in this series. So, hey, if this is your thing and you've been following these characters for a long time, my review is going to be meaningless to you.

Aside from those things, I just thought there were a number of problems. de Lint writes really poorly. There's nothing subtle in the narration at all. The explanations of mystical elements are redundant, and worse, the explanations are repeated verbatim by various characters throughout the book (see especially, the power of names, every SINGLE TIME names are traded or given in the story). It's almost as if he has no faith in his readers to interpret things themselves or remember the ground rules for the world he sets up. I also had enormous problems with the structure of this book. The story is told using a combination of third person omniscient and multiple first person perspectives, which is bewildering and utterly confusing. Why do certain characters warrant a first person perspective in their chapters while others don't? Maybe if I'd read previous entries that would make sense, but it appeared completely arbitrary to me. First person points of view for Geordie and Jilly make sense as they come to grips with the feelings they have for one another, but the others were useless to me and just distracting - especially with the third person perspectives sprinkled in-between. The first person points of view aren't even done especially well. Every character has exactly the same voice. They read exactly the same and have no defining quirks to let the reader know who they're listening to without the headings at the start of each chapter. The resolution was also incredibly drawn out. Most of the action abruptly ends about 3/4 of the way into the book and there are still over one hundred and fifty pages of loose ends to tie up. This being the end of a much longer arc, maybe that makes sense, but to me, it just felt unnecessarily prolonged.

All that got in the way of a decent story. Even a new reader can't help but hope to see Geordie and Jilly together and to finally see them overcome their personal struggles to embrace a happier life. The world de Lint creates is nothing new or spectacular (Christopher Golden's is remarkably similar in many respects, and in my opinion, much superior) and the ideas explored are similar to the ones Gaiman presented in American Gods, but it's not horrible either. You can tell a lot of work went into it's creation, it's rules and it's plausibility. The greater conflict between the newer fairies and the spirits (or cousins) of the old world is layered in a way that has promise and is competently strung together, but ---arghhh --- the narration! Mr. de Lint, do yourself a favor and find a new editor. Cutting out those extra narrators and focusing in more tightly on Geordie and Jilly would have made this a much, much better book.