cover image Trader


Charles de Lint. Tor Books, $24.95 (364pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85847-6

A master of urban fantasy returns with one of his finest works. One morning, a quiet, responsible luthier (guitar-maker), Leonard Trader, wakes up in the body of charming ne'er-do-well Johnny Devlin. At the same time, Devlin takes over Trader's body. Devlin starts cutting a swathe through the money, women and liquor in Trader's circle, while Trader has to struggle for survival on the mean streets while trying to figure out what happened to him and what he can do about it. This quest takes him (as such quests have taken many of de Lint's characters) into what is in, in effect, a marvelously wrought land of Faerie. De Lint (Memory and Dream, etc.) builds his story from a succession of well-chosen and well-expressed details. He eschews herding his lead characters into some grand, eternal arena; nothing is at stake here except their personal fates. Devlin and Trader are made so sympathetic in de Lint's seasoned hands, however, that the lack of a cosmic stage for their drama doesn't detract one bit from their wholly engaging adventures. (Jan.)