“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” – Anne Lamot (novel epigraph)
This is a difficult review to write. I always try to write spoiler-less reviews. I try to go through every quote, every line of my review, to make sure there isn’t one thing that’s going to ruin the reading experience for someone. There was one quote in a review I wrote a couple weeks ago that I mulled over for hours, trying to decide if it was a spoiler or not. Ultimately I published it, but I still have misgivings about it. So, I went into this novel without knowing anything, not one thing, except that it was written by Charles De Lint, that it had to do with the boundaries between worlds, that it was about a woman named Grace who worked on cars. That’s all you need to know, that’s all I want you to know, that’s all I’m going to tell you.
Like all De Lint novels, the characterization is superb. In the case of this particular novel, I thought the main character was much more well-developed than the secondary characters. This was definitely Grace’s story and we spend most of our time with her. This oversight of the secondary characters is so unlike De Lint, I was really surprised. De Lint is an impressive story teller – he not only creates a fascinating story with an impressive narrative, but also manages to make his stories character-driven as well. While I felt that this one had elements of both, it was by far more character driven than anything else, and only focused on one character – Grace.
I was also disappointed in the lack of strength of the narrative. Huge events would happen without much time spent on them. I felt a little cheated, to be honest. I know that De Lint is capable of much more, so I was very disappointed when he let things fall to the wayside. The more I think about it, the angrier I get. I want to tell you what I’m angry about, but I can’t! So if anyone has read this novel, please talk to me so I can ask you if I’m crazy.
I want to make one thing clear – this is not a bad novel. A mediocre novel by De Lint would be a decent novel by most other authors. I was disappointed by it in many ways, but I also enjoyed reading it. Overall, while I was reading it, I found it to be a good experience. I just wouldn’t want this to be anyone’s introduction to De Lint. He has so many other novels that have the ability to completely change the way you read, this novel is just okay. Start with something else. Like Carl said in his review over at Stainless Steel Droppings, De Lint completists will want to read this one. As far as recommending it, it would depend on the reader, it’s definitely not one I can give a blanket recommendation to.
75% – Read if you love De Lint.
(Read for OUTIII. Book 40/100 of personal reading goal.)
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