the Little Red Reviewer

Someplace to be Flying, by Charles deLint

Posted on: April 20, 2010

This review was originall posted here.

They say that Raven created our world to have someplace to be flying. Myths were once stories, which were once histories which were once actions. Otherwise, where would the stories have come from in the first place?

Known for often intertwining Celtic mythology with an urban punk or fantasy plotline, Someplace to be Flying instead uses Native American mythology has it’s foundation. DeLint seamlessly blends Native American mythology with his urban style for a story of bohemian characters who are going to save the world, even if it kills them.

Introduced early on to two young sisters (friends? cousins?) who claim to be “bird people” of some kind, it’s easy to believe they are just punky teenagers who live down the street, of course they don’t live in a tree, or kill bad guys in an alley, because that would be silly. And then, there are the (mostly) normal people: Kerry, a young art student recently released from a mental institution, Lily a photojournalist who seems to be finding trouble around every corner, Hank, a gypsy cab driver who also finds trouble everywhere he looks, Katy, a homeless redhead who is convinced her sister is going to kill her, Rory, a journalist who wants to be an artist (or is it the other way around?) a collection of other odd ducks, and of course, there is Jack.

Now Jack, he is the key. Jack the story teller, Jack who never ages and knows everyone, who always has a story to tell about the world coming out of a cauldron, about coyote causing all sorts of trouble and then trying to fix it, about the bird people, about the cuckoos who aren’t as smart as they think they are, and about meeting a beautiful woman and forcing himself to break her heart. How much of his stories are true? To here him tell it, they all are. There are those of us who are intimately involved with the mythology that is alive around us, and those who choose to believe it’s all just stories.

When it becomes known that a specific artifact from Jack’s stories is not only very real, but missing, the fight is on to retrieve it before it can fall into the wrong hands. No one is sure what form the artifact will take, but for anyone willing to pay the price, it can change the world, or it can destroy it. Cody is sure that this time, he can best use the artifact to change the world for the better, the Couteau clan of the Cuckoo’s think their idea is best, while the rest of the bird people just want it back in safe hands. But what is “safe hands”? Will keeping the artifact away from everyone keep it, and them, safe? The artifact has a mind of it’s own, and how can anyone know what to do with it if they’re not willing to ask it what it wants? Someone must step up to the plate, to do what needs to be done, to keep our world from being destroyed.

While many other Charles deLint books I’ve read in the past suffered from what I call “Michael Crichton syndrome” (where the whole thing gets wrapped up in a few paragraphs at the end, and everyone agrees to never talk about it again), I can happily say that I was fully satisfied with the climax. It was moving, tragic yet beautiful, epitomizing redemption.

With such a large ensemble cast, DeLint introduces a slew of characters very quickly, causing what I felt was a sacrafice of opportunities for characterization. DeLint seems to excel in his novels where there are only one or two main characters, where he doesn’t need to focus on creating a background for so many people. I’ve got to wonder if he had trouble keeping track of everyone, because at some points, I did as well. There are people who are introduced once, never to appear again, other who are referred to, (“oh my gosh, you know so and so???”), quickly met, and then never show up again. A bit sloppy, and difficult to forgive, but I say read this book for the stunning attempt of the storytellers to render ancient mythology on a modern canvas, and try to forget about the annoying bits.

Myths were once stories, which were once histories, which were once actions. They say that Raven created our world to have someplace to be flying.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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