“Fairy tales were not my escape from reality as a child; rather, they were my reality — for mine was a world in which good and evil were not abstract concepts, and like fairy-tale heroines, no magic would save me unless I had the wit and heart and courage to use it widely.”
– Terri Windling
The Wood Wife is the story of Maggie Black and the mysterious life she encounters in the hills of Tuscon, Arizona after her life-long correspondent, poet Davis Cooper, dies and leaves his home in her care. Any fan of Charles de Lint and his particular brand of fantasy will fall in love with Terri Windling immediately. She is one of the founders of “urban fantasy” and The Wood Wife is such a magnificent blend of the ordinary with the extraordinary. It is unexpectedly seamless.
Davis Cooper’s death is mysterious enough – he drowns in a desert, in an empty riverbed no less. Then many things, even more mysterious than Cooper’s death, start happening all over the mountains. The cast of secondary characters in The Wood Wife are impressive. They are fully realized and just as fascinating as Maggie, if not more so. First there are the ghosts of Davis Cooper and his famous painter wife, Ana Naverra. Though they are not living characters in the novel, they are a constant presence in the story. Dora and Juan are Maggie’s new neighbors, and their story becomes irrevocably intertwined with Davis, Ana and Maggie. Johnnie Foxxe, another of Maggie’s neighbors, has his own connections to both the past and the present.
The Wood Wife was mysterious enough to keep interested without getting frustrating. The ending was full enough to be satisfying. I really enjoyed the inclusion of the poetry and the descriptions of the paintings. I was extremely impressed with Windling’s characterization and, just when I thought she wasn’t going to pull it all off, she did so without a hitch. I’ve always been fascinated by the southwest, a place I’ve never visited. The literature written about the place makes it seem so incredibly magical; Windling’s story is no exception.
93% – For anyone remotely interested in urban fantasy, fantasy in general, the southwest.
PS. There is time travel!