cover image Moonlight and Vines

Moonlight and Vines

Charles de Lint. Tor Books, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86518-4

With this collection of 22 stories--including three new tales and four that previously appeared only as limited-edition chapbooks--de Lint returns to the magic-steeped streets of Newford, the setting for his acclaimed novels Memory & Dream, Trader and Someplace to Be Flying. Although Newford seems a typical North American city, it houses an unusual array of artists, from painters and musicians to writers and tarot-card readers: the creative forces behind de Lint's stories. Each entry follows characters changed irrevocably by the touch of magic. The collection's bookend tales, ""Saskia"" and ""The Fields Beyond the Fields,"" are linked stories about a writer whose relationship with a mysterious woman renews his creative fires. In ""The Big Sky,"" a dead man stubbornly trying to hang on to the living world discovers the consequences of stagnation. ""Heartfires"" reverberates with the earthy voices of ancient spirits, proving that ""a thing is just a thing until you have the story that goes with it."" Other magical beings inhabit ""The Invisibles,"" ""Crow Girls"" and the wry tale ""Passing."" As always, de Lint's writing is smooth and captivating, though the frequency of recurring themes (death, lost love) make the book best read in short spurts. Even at their darkest, the author's stories, like the best fantasy, will remind readers that ""no matter how grey and bland and pointless the world might seem...there really is more to everything than what we can see."" (Jan.)