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Forests of the Heart [Hardcover]

Charles de Lint
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 3 2000 Newford
In the Old Country, they called them the Gentry: ancient spirits of the land, magical, amoral, and dangerous. When the Irish emigrated to North America, some of the Gentry followed...only to find that the New World already had spirits of its own, called manitou and other such names by the Native tribes.

Now generations have passed, and the Irish have made homes in the new land, but the Gentry still wander homeless on the city streets. Gathering in the city shadows, they bide their time and dream of power. As their dreams grow harder, darker, fiercer, so do the Gentry themselves--appearing, to those with the sight to see them, as hard and dangerous men, invariably dressed in black.

Bettina can see the Gentry, and knows them for what they are. Part Indian, part Mexican, she was raised by her grandmother to understand the spirit world. Now she lives in Kellygnow, a massive old house run as an arts colony on the outskirts of Newford, a world away from the Southwestern desert of her youth. Outsider her nighttime window, she often spies the dark men, squatting in the snow, smoking, brooding, waiting. She calls them los lobos, the wolves, and stays clear of them--until the night one follows her to the woods, and takes her hand....

Ellie, an independent young sculptor, is another with magic in her blood, but she refuses to believe it, even though she, too, sees the dark men. A strange old woman has summoned Ellie to Kellygnow to create a mask for her based on an ancient Celtic artifact. It is the mask of the mythic Summer King--another thing Ellie does not believe in. Yet lack of belief won't dim the power of the mast, or its dreadful intent.

Donal, Ellie's former lover, comes from an Irish family and knows the truth at the heart of the old myths. He thinks he can use the mask and the "hard men" for his own purposes. And Donal's sister, Miki, a punk accordion player, stands on the other side of the Gentry's battle with the Native spirits of the land. She knows that more than her brother's soul is at stake. All of Newford is threatened, human and mythic beings alike.

Once again Charles de Lint weaves the mythic traditions of many cultures into a seamless cloth, bringing folklore, music, and unforgettable characters to life on modern city streets.

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Forests of the Heart is an enthralling voyage into the seamier side of urban magic. Returning to the familiar environs of Newford, where he sets so many of his modern myths, Charles de Lint introduces some of his most memorable characters yet.

The Gentry are ancient spirits of the land, sired in rape and born of woman in the Old Country. When the Irish immigrated to the New World, some of the Gentry came along. Generations later, having no real ties to their new home, they dream dark dreams of wresting the land surrounding Newford from the native manitou spirits. The Gentry's scheming and plotting draw some of the inhabitants of Newford into a dark and desperate fight against them and a primeval spirit, old as the earth itself but slumbering in la epoca del mito, the myth time.

Bettina, a curandera--or healer--is part Mexican and part Indian. She has recently moved to Newford from the deserts of the Southwest for reasons she can't understand. She lives in Kellygnow, an art colony perched on a hill overlooking Newford. Earning her keep as a model for the various artists who live and work there, she tries to apply her desert-learned skills and knowledge in the cold, forested surroundings.

Bettina's fellow Kellygnowians include Nuala, who seems slightly more spiritual than the average housekeeper; Ellie, a sculptor with a very special commission; and the Recluse, a mysterious figure who winters at Kellygnow in one of the outlying private cottages. Donal, an Irish-born malcontent who dreams of better times, joins them, along with Miki, his musician sister, and Tommy, a Native American accompanied by a few of his apparently innumerable aunts. The looming battle against a seemingly invincible foe draws them together and forces them to depend not only upon their skills and powers, but also on hope, trust, and love.

Blending aspects of different cultural legends and myths with his keen insight into human nature, Charles de Lint offers a truly incredible and compelling tale. His specialty is an intoxicating mix of real and fantasy worlds, and Forests of the Heart delivers a delicious punch. With his deft touch and sensitive style, de Lint's mastery of the urban fantasy tale and his ability as a great storyteller remain unchallenged. --Robert Gately

From Publishers Weekly

Irish fairies, Native American shape-changers and Africa's Anansi the Spider all meet up as de Lint (The Buffalo Man) weaves a new tale of urban magic, in which a diverse cast of characters learns that all the oldest myths are true. This comes as no surprise to Bettina San Miguel (a Mexican-Indian healer whose power comes from her father, a hawk-spirit), or to Tommy Raven (whose aunts back on the reservation were in regular contact with the spirit world). But Hunter Cole and Ellie Jones, who have never believed in anything supernatural, are shocked to learn that Ellie has enormous magical powers. Conversely, for Miki Greer, the revelation is a horrible confirmation of her Irish father's angry rantings--and a dangerous portent for her brother, Donal, who is involved with the violent "hard men" (displaced Irish spirits, also known as the Gentry and los lobos, looking for a home in America). The "hard men" want to summon a Green Man to fight the native spirits--and they want to use Donal's body to help them do it. Suddenly, the fictional city of Newford is crawling with magic--some hostile, some strangely appealing. And Bettina, Tommy, Hunter and Ellie must stop Donal before it's too late. A leisurely, intriguing expedition into the spirit world, studded with Spanish and Gaelic words and an impressive depth of imagination, de Lint's latest teems with music, danger and a touch of romance. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Like her sister, Bettina San Miguel was a small, slender woman in her mid-twenties, dark-haired and darker-eyed; part Indio, part Mexican, part something older still. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Another winner June 21 2004
DeLint is quickly becoming my favorite author, or at least sharing the title with Neil Gaiman.
FotH is the 3rd De Lint book I've read in the inviting city of Newford, and the familiarity with the city is a huge part of my enjoyment reading these. The place is starting to really feel like home, becoming someplace I can see when I read about it.
Of course, the inhabitants, human and otherwise, are the main draw though. De Lint has a magic touch for reaching out and putting a very real soul, very real pain and very real love into every character he explores, from the main protagonists to the smallest side character.
Forests of the Heart again deals with a beautiful blend of the old world faerie stories and native America mysticism, and the two worlds, even in their clashing that this book centers on, fit together like a perfect puzzle.
I try to save 5 star ratings for the absolutely best books, like De Lint's own Memory & Dream, but this is damn close. If you believe there are other things in the world with us, that most people don't see all there is to see and that reality is much deeper than the world at large accepts, read this book. Read as much De Lint as you can get your hands on.
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3.0 out of 5 stars novel-by-numbers Oct. 3 2003
By A Customer
Charles de Lint is one of my favorite authors. Trader and The Onion Girl, in particular, are standout examples of his standout talent for blending our reality with myth, and getting readers to question the division between the two. Both books are explorations of humanity, spirituality, creativity, and love, succeeding where Forests of the Heart fails. The trials in Forests seem somewhat implausible, the characters largely undeveloped, and key relationships aren't given enough space to unfold into credibility, much less life. There are some good patches, especially in his development of Bettina's character (if not her language skills), but this book really feels like a formulaic return to Newford for no reason other than satisfying deLint's ravenous fans. If you are collecting the Newford books, then by all means get this one. It's certainly stronger than the early short stories of Dreams Underfoot and deLint's other, more experimental starting work. If you're only looking at this book because some starry-eyed deLint fan such as myself told you to read his work, though, please do yourself a favor and start off with either Trader or his short-story collection Tapping the Dream Tree. Either book - Tapping especially - will help you to get your feet wet in the world of Newford without completely overwhelming you with characters you haven't yet gotten to know, and still show you how good an author deLint can be.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Why? Jan. 29 2003
By Vanessa
Every time I pick up a Charles De Lint novel, it is because I am seduced by what seems like a fascinating possibility for a story. Unfortunately, by the time I finish with each of Mr. De Lint's works, I am disappointed by his facile and unchallenging resolutions to what might have been excellent plots. De Lint has great characters, with interesting and believable relationships to each other, but they think and behave in ways that are at odds with the mood and description of the world in the story.
A final point: if you are going to write a novel, and you feel that you will not disrupt the flow of narrative and dialogue, both internal and external, with passages in another language (which De Lint clumsily insists on doing here, primarily with Spanish, and also with Gaelic and Celtic) then for heaven's sake GET IT RIGHT!
Is it possible that he thought no native Spanish speakers would read the book? He repeatedly refers to hes as shes and mixes up tenses and cases. His disrespect is insulting. Please, novelists, have enough respect for any language to hire an editor who is familiar with it.
Adding "o" to the end of an English word does not a Spanish word make!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars His people are alive, his surroundings vivid. Jan. 27 2003
Forests of the Heart, the latest from Charles de Lint, is a masterwork of dramatic fiction, a contemporary fantasy laced with horror, suspense and magic -- and characters so strikingly drawn they'll seem as real as the people you see every day on the street.
Forests of the Heart begins slowly. There's not much action as de Lint spins the background needed for his tale and allows his characters time to grow. But don't assume that means it's a plodding introduction; the tale is enticing from the start. Once the plot begins to unravel and things begin to happen, you'll certainly find yourself riveted to the pages, bitterly resenting anything which yanks you away from reading (including work and sleep).
Forget the fantasy -- de Lint makes even mundane moments seem magical simply by drawing the readers' attention to the little details and the hidden mysteries which are all around us, but usually go completely unnoticed. Coupled with the resonant imagery and emotions conjured here, I think you'll find Forests of the Heart to be an irresistable reading experience.
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I've read three of Charles De Lint's works now and yes, they do all have some kind of myth at their core, usually combined some way with Art and Artists. This book, however, is his most mature effort. I don't mean to imply that it's a serious Oprah book or boring, just that instead of preaching like he did "memory and dream" he skillfully layers in meaning through the characters and the plot. Since everyone else has already talked about the plot, I'll move on to my experience of the work.
De Lint's narrative is sometimes slow, especially when contrasted against his marvelous action and suspense, but in this book especially you just go along with it, and the odd pace (sometimes slow and dreamy, sometimes faster and jumpier than a nightmare) just adds to the overall mythical and magical quality of the story. It makes sense and makes other stories with more even pacing seem boring and conventional.
the characters are very well fleshed out, no one is all good or all bad, everyone has their fatal flaw or hidden face. One very fun main character owns a record store and talks like the guys in "high fidelity." My favorite tho was Bettina, and the Aunts, who bring in mexican and native-american mythology and magic into the story. De Lint has obviously done his research on that score.
Imagine an adult, intelligent Harry Potter that's definitely rated R for violence and magic that's more rooted in Nature than magic words. Since I can't get across how this story sends echoes through your psyche as you read it, you'll just have to experience it for yourself. :)
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Wonderful!
If you're a fan of Charles de Lint, you're in for a treat with this one. If you're not a fan - read this book, and you will be. Read more
Published on Feb. 29 2004 by EmBee
3.0 out of 5 stars A good enough story, but...
While I enjoyed Forests of the Heart, I also found it to be the least satisfying of the six or seven De Lint novels that I've read to this point. Read more
Published on June 5 2003 by George Heritier
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicate and beautifully realized. I didn't want it to stop.
I always love the ideas of Charles de Lint's novels, but this is really the first one where I was as satisfied with the execution as I was with the story setup. Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2003 by frumiousb
5.0 out of 5 stars Pierced now has the viel covering reality been!
Best Fantasy read in the last year. I loved this book. Not as long and drawn out as some Charles de Lint stories. Very fast and interesting and well written. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2003 by Charlene Moeller
5.0 out of 5 stars My first de Lint, what I start
I had always held back from reading de Lints books because they are so expensive in Australia, but I finally bit the bullet and read Forests of the Heart. Read more
Published on May 30 2002 by Lavender
5.0 out of 5 stars Ah Mr.De Lint to even get a glimpse into this world......
I think if I could live anywhere real or imagined it would have to be in a Charles Delint book. In fact now that I'm living in Canada and in his neck of the world I might see if I... Read more
Published on May 28 2002 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The fairies versus the manitous in a fantasy Ottawa.
De Lint, who gets better with each new novel, is at his best when combining folkloric traditions as he does here with Mexican brujeria, Native American, and Celtic. Read more
Published on May 4 2002 by Stephen Richmond
5.0 out of 5 stars Urban Magic in Two Keys
De Lint is the true master of modern magic tales that seem plausible. It is easy to believe that you "could" see what the characters see, if you just had the gift. Read more
Published on April 4 2002 by Frank
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