Widdershins Paperback – Jun 12 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
This pleasing addition to the popular Newford saga (The Onion Girl, etc.) brings series characters Jilly Coppercorn and Geordie Riddell together in a romantic relationship that's anything but simple. In de Lint's magic-realist universe, a version of contemporary North America, the supernatural is taken for granted and the occasional skeptic who doesn't understand that everyone else has routine encounters with fairies and Native American earth spirits is left very much in the dark. Many of the characters are folk musicians, one of whom begins the story under magical compulsion to perform for the fairy revels in a shopping mall after closing time. These fairies aren't necessarily of the cuddly sort—early on, a female musician barely escapes possible rape or murder from nasty little men. In the background, a great war is brewing between Native American spirits and those that came over with the white men, a situation that inevitably recalls Neil Gaiman's American Gods, to which this more intimate and folksy book compares favorably.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* De Lint takes us back to Newford and environs, his most extensive creation, where things and people from dreams and lore and story pass easily into the human world and draw humans into theirs. When Lizzie Mahone's car breaks down at a crossroads in the early hours of the morning, and she is rescued from a gang of particularly thuggish spirits by a kindlier one, she takes her first step into the world of the spirits of the land and also into the midst of brawls and rivalries between aboriginal spirits and others who have arrived over the centuries. The dwellers in the otherlands have adapted to changes wrought by time and technology but, not having altered their nature, are as capriciously helpful or harmful to humans as they ever were in any folktale. Lizzie's introduction to the otherlands draws her into the circle of similar characters in de Lint's previous Newford books. Indeed, Widdershins is also a story of Jilly Coppercorn, the crippled heroine of The Onion Girl (2001). De Lint weaves the individual characters' stories into a tight-knit whole, accompanied by music, love, pugnacity, frustration, and healing. Many of his faithful readers see the people he has created as kin they want to keep up with. Walk widdershins (i.e., counterclockwise) once and you may, too. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
What strikes me funny about this review is that it's like saying "Titus" is not Shakespeare's best work, or at least it doesn't line up with King Lear or Hamlet. Widdershin isn't De Lint at his best, but it's still very good; a lot better than most, not as good as some.
To start with, he has an AWFUL lot of characters that seem end up with the same resolution. The climax, and there around about five, results many times with characters just arriving and watching. A variety of plot lines can be great, but as long as they are differing strands and not having the character converge just to see how another plot line resolves itself.
The genuis of De Lint, though, comes into Jilly's plot line. I don't want to give too much away, but it's a marvelous metaphor for, to use an over-used expression, self-help. Her relationship with Geordie is a bit stale, which is sad because that's the promise of the book, but it still is neat to watch, with a host of other characters, and see what happens.
In a contrary or counterclockwise direction: "The coracle whirled round, clockwise, then widdershins" (Anthony Bailey).
What would you do for love? Would you write a sonnet? Would you climb mountains for it? Would you battle for it? What about traveling to an alternate universe inside of the woman that you love, to battle beings from her past? This is just what Geordie Riddell has to do to save the love of his life, Jilly Coppercorn.
Fans of Charles De Lint's Newford books have been waiting with bated breath for Jilly and Geordie to get together and realize the one thing that everyone else knows: They love each other. But they'll have a lot to get through before they even realize their love exists. There is trouble brewing on the streets of Newford and, as usual, the Fey are involved.
Animosity is building between the Fey clans: The Native American Spirits that have lived since before time began and the New Spirits: those that have come later or immigrated on ships and barges. There is a thunder that is starting in the ground, a rhythm of drums; and the drums mean war.
Geordie and Jilly become involved in the battle through no fault of their own, though the danger has already been predicted for Geordie. If he hopes to survive, he must depend on those around him; especially Jilly. Regrettably, through Goblin involvement, she has withdrawn inside herself, to a world that exists only within her. There, Jilly the Broken Girl, has to relive all of her old hates, her old hurts.
If Geordie plans on saving her, he will need all the help he can get. But in the world of the Fey, there is one cardinal rule: Nothing is ever easy....Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It's no disappointment. For the sake of de Lint fans as eager as I was to see this one out to its conclusion, I'll refrain from repeating too many details here.
But let's begin with a few hints. Sure, the book revolves counterclockwise around Jilly and Geordie, but there are other Newford inhabitants, both new and old, who populate this tale. One is Lizzie Mahone, a musician whose car stalls in the middle of a growing war between North America's native and immigrant fey. Grunts from one side of the battle lines threaten the young girl, while a solitary member of the other comes to her rescue.
But don't sell the division short; de Lint is too canny a writer to draw a clear-cut line between good and evil. Both sides have their share of each and, even more common still, there are folk and faeries who exist somewhere in between. And, entwined within the larger frameworks of war are silkier threads of personal vengeance, hatred and murder.
Of course, both native and immigrant mythologies are richly presented, building further on the groundwork laid in de Lint's previous stories. There is bold, realistic and sometimes idealistic character development along the way, including both romance and heartache, and the story -- presented from various points of view -- leaps from its pages and comes to life in the very air around you.
Jilly, meanwhile, vanishes into a reality of her own devising, built from the nightmares of her childhood. Geordie's noble efforts to save her put himself in peril. And Lizzie is still coming to grips with this whole mythic reality she's stumbled into. Others, including fan favorites, the Crow Girls, and the great bird of the galaxy who just might have brought this world into being, have their parts to play as well before a final resolution is reached.
I've praised de Lint's writing in the past, but I've run out of superlatives for Widdershins. It is easily one of the best -- if not the best -- novels in his vast library.
I've been a DeLint fan for years, but I was really disappointed at the end of The Onion Girl when Jilly, who of all of Newford's citizens, wants to believe and be touched by otherworldly magic the most, is left crippled and unable to visit the otherworld after her magical encounter.
Now, finally, we see a conclusion to the Jilly & Geordie saga in a story rife with new charaters, Animal People, and fairy. Just as in DeLint's other works, we find new trails of stories intertwined with the main plot and explore human nature in a provoking manner. Appearances by other old friends, like the Crow Girls, pop up thoughout and just make the whole experience more enjoyable.
A great ending to a familiar chapter...or is it a beginning?
Widdershins is a novel set in de Lint's Newford series. Charles de Lint has set almost 20 novels in the fictional North American city of Newford, a place with a cast of human characters that intersect with people of the faerie realm and Native American spirits. I picked up Widdershins as my first de Lint novel because the hints that it was a love story intrigued me. I like a bit of romance with my science fiction and fantasy. It was also advertised as a book that one could read without having read any of the other Newford books: a fact that I can wholeheartedly attest to.
A varying cast of characters inhabit de Lint's Newford books, so not each book is about the same people. Some of the characters in Widdershins have no doubt had a presence in some of the other books, but he does such a fantastic job of introducing the reader to the characters in a way that does not feel awkward, does not feel like a recap of other stories, that you begin to know the characters very intimately right from the start.
Two of the principal characters of Widdershins are Jilly and Geordie, characters that have had a presence in other Charles de Lint books, most notably the book The Onion Girl. In an author's note at the beginning of the book, Charles de Lint states that Widdershins arose out of numerous fan requests to find out what happened to Jilly and Geordie after the events of The Onion Girl. Eventhough Widdershins can be read as a stand alone book, if you have any desire to read The Onion Girl without having the ending spoiled for you, you should probably read that one first. I have a feeling that I know a lot about that book from reading Widdershins (and yet I loved the characters so much I still feel compelled to go read The Onion Girl...that alone should tell you how much I loved de Lint's writing).
So after all that introduction, what is the book about? Well, it is about a group of young adult celtic musicians and how a seemingly innocent decision sets in motion circumstances that will involve humans, faerie, Native American mythological creatures, and other old, folkloric characters...circumstances that will build towards a war that could have devastating effects on members of each race. In addition to that it is a story about healing from abuse, a story of self-examination, a story of life examination. Mix in an appreciation for Celtic music, deep characterization, a writing style that builds and builds upon itself, pulling the reader right into that world, and you have Widdershins. And, I suspect, any of Charles de Lint's novels.
Charles de Lint's work has been called "fantasy for people who don't read fantasy" and this is a pretty accurate definition. While de Lint certainly treats many of the typical fantasy/fairy tale subjects, he does so in such a serious, fluid manner that it never feels silly. It rarely even feels like fantasy in the way some other books do. There is such a strong folklore and mythology element to his work that it feels as if you are reading a story rich with historical spiritual and cultural elements. In Widdershins it is all very real, and very fascinating. Each relatively short chapter in Widdershins is about a specific character, told from their point of view. The effect of this is that you get to know each character very intimately, and the suspense of the various threads of the tale builds and builds as they are woven together towards the climax. I literally found myself reading faster and faster as events began to get more and more intense. It is a very good book.
Widdershins reminded me of two other stories: American Gods and Lord of the Rings. Widdershins shares a very strong bond with American Gods in its treatment of how gods, faerie, mythological creatures, etc. followed the humans, particularly the Europeans, as they migrated to North America. The effect that this has on the spirits already present in North America is treated similarly in both books. If you liked one, I guarantee you'll like the other. Both books are cut from the same rich, cultural/mythological cloth. It reminded me of Lord of the Rings in that a significant amount of time was spent with each character after the grand climax, allowing the reader to see resolution of the various issues and allowing a glimpse into where each character would go from here. I really enjoyed that as I became so strongly attached to so many of the characters that it gave me time to gently let them all go. It is a very effective writing style.
And finally, I mentioned something about abuse. If you work in the mental health field in any capacity then I highly recommend this book. Its treatment of the healing of abuse is so profound that I was deeply moved by that plot line alone, not to mention the many other wonderful things Widdershins has to offer. Charles de Lint has some wonderful insight into the healing of the human soul.
Widdershins is a fantastic, rich, complex and wonderful book. I give it my highest of recommendations and count myself as a new fan of Charles de Lint.