I’ve been talking about my bookshelves and how I organize my books with my girl friends lately. As always, I’m the odd one out as I like to place my books by how much I like them and there are always two authors that hold a shrine-like place on my shelves.
Reading books has been my medicine. It’s helped me through some dark times and given me the ambition to keep going, to see the magic in the world. The two authors that really helped do that for me are Robin McKinley and Charles De Lint.
The first time I read a book by McKinley, I was still in high school. I can’t remember which year. All I can remember is that I fell so deeply in love with this beauty and the beast retelling that I showed my BFF and we stole the copy from the school library.
Fast forward to now. I own my own copy of Beauty, a retelling written in the seventies that is still as beautiful as ever. Then, I found Sunshine. This one is a bit more of a complicated read and features a young woman named Rae that everyone just calls Sunshine. Maybe it’s because she lives off sunshine, withering like a flower without it. Sunshine gets mixed up with some crazy vampire politics and discovers her sunlight brand of magic can help them walk in the daylight. Also, there are giant cinnamon rolls.
Not long after, I grabbed Chalice and Shadows. Both had me stuck for weeks after reading. The stories are so unique and striking, giving us new forms of magic, new fantasy worlds, and themes that will rock your world.
Charles De Lint
His books are usually classified as urban fantasy, but that’s about as close as they get to the usual trope riddled genre (No, I’m not being mean to UF. I still love it.) De Lint’s books have cities and they have fantastic elements, but deeper than that they carry a weight of magic and themes that will have you reeling for a week.
The first book I ever read by De Lint was The Blue Girl. It’s a YA about a girl who shines a bit brighter than most, the girl who blends in too much, and a boy who disappeared and became a ghost. There are monsters and twists, and great girl friendships.
Venturing into his adult books can get a whole hell of a lot heftier. Welcome to Newford, De Lint’s imaginary Canadian city where paintings can come to life, a Raven made the world, and the Crow Girls get shit done. De Lint has a huge cast of regular characters living in Newford, each with deep cutting problems and emotional ruts that will help walk you through whatever you’re going through in life.
Also, if you’re big on diversity in your books, De Lint tries very hard to make sure his cast is well represented. This especially goes for the Native American presence in Newford.
I highly suggest Memory and Dream, The Onion Girl, and The Mystery of Grace. Don’t stop there. De Lint also has collections of short stories if you’re looking for something a bit quicker to read. His short stories are mystical and magical and hold just as much depth of emotion as his full length novels.
Now, I’m realizing how much I miss the Crow Girls.