Come meet Jilly, painting wonders in the rough city streets; and Geordie, playing fiddle while he dreams of a ghost; and the Angel of Grasso Street gathering the fey and the wild and the poor and the lost. Dreams Underfoot is a must-read book not only for fans of urban fantasy but for all who seek magic in everyday life.
©1993 Charles de Lint; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"In de Lint's capable hands, modern fantasy becomes something other than escapism. It becomes folk song, the stuff of urban myth." (Phoenix Gazette)
"Charles de Lint shows that, far from being escapism, contemporary fantasy can be the deep mythic literature of our time." (Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
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"Too Much Urban Fantasy Wears Thin"
Terri Windling's Introduction to Charles de Lint's Dreams Underfoot (1993) accurately describes the “urban magic” infusing the collection of nineteen short stories as using “the tools of myth, folklore and fantasy” to “record dreams,” mixing “ancient folklore motifs and contemporary urban characters.” Most of the nineteen stories in the collection are set in Newford, de Lint's fictional American city of subway and alleys, parks and rivers, cafes and clubs, university and library, cathedral and record shop, dangerous districts and upscale neighborhoods, official and unofficial histories, and so on. In his stories de Lint presents us with a series of urban protagonists (outsiders like artists, writers, or musicians) who are confronted with some disorienting fantastic thing or being and then must decide whether to reject it as only a dream or to incorporate it into their world-views.
The collection begins promisingly, when in "Uncle Dobbin's Parrot Fair" (1987), a middle-aged woman takes in a beaten punk teen, and their respective fantasies (benign balloon men and demonic booger) conflict at the beach, informed by an urban fantasy short story.
In the funny and scary "Stone Drum" (1989), Jilly Coppercorn has an eye-opening encounter with the goblin-like denizens of the subterranean Old City that leads her to become an artist specializing in urban faerie.
"Timeskip" (1989), narrated by Jilly's friend, the street fiddler Geordie Riddell, is a romantic story about his tragic encounter with a time traveling ghost.
In "Freewheeling" (1990) Jilly tries to protect a simple boy who goes around Newford at night freeing locked bicycles to ride off on their own.
In "That Explains Poland" (1988) the spunky Latina narrator LaDonna recounts her hunt for Bigfoot in the derelict and slummy part of town.
In "Romano Drom" (1989) punk singer-guitarist Lorio encounters a wounded hyena-wolf being who introduces her to the war raging between forces of creation and destruction on the multiple roads between the multiple worlds.
In "The Sacred Fire" (1989) Nicky Straw is tired of hunting and being hunted by vampire-like monsters who pose as human beings to eat their life fire.
"Winter Was Hard" (1991) is a moving story depicting the relationship between Jilly, some girlish punkish place-spirits, and a writer living in a home for the aged.
"Pity the Monsters" (1991) features an immigrant to Newford from England, a creepy old woman, and a scary multiple-personality "monster" called Frank.
"Ghosts of Wind and Shadow" (1990) depicts the struggle of a conventional mother who has rejected faerie to understand her teenaged daughter who is drawn to it, while the Oak King's daughter and her wizard-bard husband help out.
In "The Conjure Man" (1992) local poetess Wendy St. James learns about the Tree of Tales.
Graveyard shift DJ Zoe Brill is approached by a spooky handsome guy with a knack for giving people bad luck in "Small Deaths" (1993).
"The Moon Is Drowning While I Sleep" (1993) features Sophie Etoile telling Jilly about her vivid dreams in which she is supposed to rescue the maternal moon.
"In the House of My Enemy" (1993) is the most harrowing and moving story in the collection (and is the one story that doesn't feature the fantastic), as we learn why Jilly is so keen to help waifs like this pregnant girl from the streets.
In "But for the Grace Go I" (1991) Maisie Flood, a street-wise young woman taking care of a mental institution cast off and a pack of dogs while squatting in an abandoned house, tells how receiving a mysterious letter changed her life.
In "Bridges" (1992) Moira Jones has moved to Newford to escape her bad high school reputation when she walks into an Escher-esque world of hope and despair.
"Our Lady of the Harbour" (1991) retells the Little Mermaid story, the target of her desperate love being a genius musician who cares only for music.
In "Paperjack" (1991) Geordie (with help from Jilly and a mysterious old black man who is an origami sensei) tries to come to terms with the tragic events of "Timeskip."
In the last story of the collection, "Tallulah" (1991), Christy Riddell, whose stories have been popping up throughout Dreams Underfoot, explains his (and de Lint's!) themes "about love and loss, honor and the responsibilities of friendship, and wonder, always wonder" and recounts his intense relationship with a mysterious, well-read, punky woman who can only be with him at night.
I liked the sense of Newford that de Lint builds more richly with each successive story. I liked the connections between music, art, writing, and magic. I enjoyed Jilly Coppercorn popping up in multiple stories. I cared about many of his characters. And I like the idea of a world into which the fantastic may intrude at any moment.
However, I found that nineteen stories was about ten too many, for I became tired of their base pattern (spunky, punky, tough but tender outsider artist type protagonists, in medias res openings, explanatory flashbacks, and climactic epiphany endings). Too often de Lint signals early on that the fantastic is real, so that when his characters encounter it and try to figure out if it is real or not, the reader has no doubt. And although there are moments of wonder in many of the stories, they're usually not so sublime or enduring (unlike similar moments in, say, John Crowley's Little, Big).
Kate Reading’s voice is clear, compassionate, and appealing as she reads the stories, and she modulates her voice effectively for male and female characters. But her compassion combined with the over-familiarity I began feeling with de Lint’s typical story to nearly become cloying by the end of the collection.
I might return to Newford in the future via one of de Lint’s novels set there, but not for a while.
"DeLint well realized"
I've been reading Charles DeLint for many years, but this is the first audio book of his that I've listened to. I found the stories entertaining and thought provoking. Some have happy endings, while some do not. Overall, I felt as good about this as I have of his work that I've read. I like the way the narrator voiced the different characters, especially Jilly.
My one suggestion for the producers of this audio book would be to put some gap, or marker, between the stories so that the listener could tell one story has ended and the next is about to start. There was hardly any pause between the end of one sentence of one story and the start of the next. It took several stories before I began to recognize the clues that I was in a new story. I'd prefer to not have to wonder where I am.
"Liked it but I didn't love it"
I read this out of order and it may have had some effect on my review. I read The Onion Girl recently and it was my first De Lint novel. I love Newford and the characters. His faerie world he has built is fascinating and is a non juvenile take on urban fantasy. Don't get me wrong, I read and enjoy YA novels, but its also nice to read a more complex and fleshed out version of fantasy/urban fantasy as well.
This book introduces you to many of the characters I learned of in The Onion Girl and I was expecting to get a little bit more history. It actually had an entire section that I swear was word for word in the Onion Girl and as others have mentioned the description of characters are a bit repetitive if you have read another De Lint book. This is something I both love and is a bit irritating. I love it because you do not have to read the Newford books in order. They stand on their own.
What I liked is it still has fleshed out characters and you learn more about Newford. It is clearly an introduction to Newford, however. It felt like a collection of stories rather than one story, and I prefer to have a main storyline. The Onion Girl took a bit to getting all its storylines to fit together but it did.
This feels like a first effort and when you look at how many books in his reperatoire are related to Newford this is clearly an earlier work. It's good, but I probably won't re read/relisten to it. I will definitely reread/relisten to The Onion Girl.
"urban fantasy, well performed"
I'm a deLint fan and this audio version is like living with his Newford people all around. Totally loved it!
I loved it! It was so easy to enter into the worlds he created! A great escape. I'm listening again. :)
"Keep on browsing and dont bother with this one"
Anybody with pretensions of redefining "Fantasy" as meandering bad prose. Fantasy doesn't have to be all dungeons and dragons or even magics and creatures. But I think this author is trying for what he views as "Literature" instead of a good story.
Just this author
Flexible, Pleasant, Listen-able. She did her best with some obnoxious material. Her narrating voice was good with different characters getting distinct treatments. I would not listen to any more by this author but would definitely listen to her narrating a different series.
All of them
I should have known better when the first half hour or so is all discussions about "what exactly are fantasy and dreams" Any book that takes that long to self describe in an effort to keep you from turning it off in the first 5 min. I have slogged through some books of less than stellar quality before. After all you never know if the story starts to pull itself together and you would miss a diamond in the rough. But I just couldn't with Dreams Underfoot. If this book was a paperback novel then my copy would still be in pristine shape, the spine uncracked and no dog-ears to mark passages I wanted to revisit. I am really hoping that Audible still lets you e-return a book.
"Great stories of modern fantasy."
never read it
she has great feeling in her voice and does good individual voices
"naration makes stories hard to folllow"
Probably not. The stories seem to run together, making them predictable. I found that the narrator can make or break an audible book. I could not thru one story without the narrator putting me to sleep.
No, as I still like urban fiction, just inot n this style.
No. This book is like one novel: I do not think there is more to tell.
The narrator is very droning.
Although I understand the concept of attempting to bring the themes/feeling of old fairy tales into a modern-day world, de Lint failed utterly to bring me into the world he tried to create or bring me to like the characters. I like de Lint, but I simply could not wait for these stories to be over so that I could move on to some other book. Disappointing.
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