World fantasy award-winning author Charles de Lint's books may sound like the sort of literature you'd be afraid to inquire about at a hipster independent bookstore. That cute, bespectacled intellectual standing nearby might overhear you say the words "urban fantasy."But the genre is actually an interesting mix of fantasy and urban fiction that's appreciated by sci-fi buffs and highly under-rated by everyone else.
Though Ottawa's de Lint has been writing for over 20 years, the 17 stories in his latest book, Tapping The Dream Tree, feel as if they're written by a much younger person.
They're all set in a fictional North American city called Newford, the backdrop for several of De Lint's other recent books. Pixies, elves and monsters are as present as humans, and the different species interact regularly, although not without some clashes and readjustments.
Over and over, his characters battle with the unknown, both internally when they're forced to believe in the paranormal and externally when they must defeat what seem like insurmountable odds
In Pixel Pixies, magical creatures that live on the Internet plague an unsuspecting used bookstore owner. In a wider sense, the piece is in part about our difficulties overcoming class barriers and personal history.
Wingless Angels tells the tale of two teenagers stalked by angels who "chose the wrong side" and fell from heaven. The only way to defeat the greasy-haired, hulking beasts that smell like the sewer is to make them homesick so they'll get distracted. The subplot explores what it feels like to fall in love and trust another person.
Compelling, odd and experimental - but in an appealing way - Tapping The Dream Tree is highly recommended for both adults and teens.
Tapping the Dream Tree by Charles de Lint (Tor), 541 pages, $37.95 cloth. Rating: NNNN