cover image The Little Country

The Little Country

Charles de Lint. William Morrow & Company, $12.95 (630pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10366-8

A book that could provide its possessor with ultimate power; a Cornish family that has kept the volume hidden for decades; a secret society out to obtain it at any cost; a psychopathic killer; two or possibly three alternate worlds; and a love story are the plot strands of this pleasant but not very engrossing fantasy by the author of Angel of Darkness . After folk singer Janie Little finds the only copy of a novel titled The Little Country by celebrated writer William Dunthorn, an old friend of her grandfather's, extraordinary events begin to occur. Strangers seek to buy or steal Dunthorn's papers and peculiar accidents befall Janie's friends. Wealthy and powerful John Madden, head of the sinister Order of the Grey Dove, employs a killer to acquire a talisman, somehow related to Dunthorn, that Madden is convinced will augment his magical powers. Meanwhile, the tale in the secret novel is unveiled; it deals with the lost music that underlies all magic. While de Lint's rendering of the small Cornish town of Mousehole and the life of a folk musician rings true, the novel lacks the hypnotic mix of horror and beauty necessary to lure the reader into this particular fantasy world. (Feb.)