Muse and Reverie is a brand new collection of short stories set in Charles de Lint’s fictional city of Newford. Now available in one volume, these stories have been published in other venues over the last decade. While there are some good stories, and only one real clunker, Muse and Reverie lacks the same magic that has characterized de Lint’s earlier collections.
I may have been at a disadvantage, because I have read several of these stories in other editions over the last year, so the bloom has faded from the rose, so to speak. Yet the characters that stood out to me in this volume were the old friends that I have read before: the irrepressible Crow Girls, Jilly and Goon, the mystical Meran, even the elf-like gemmin with their violet eyes. The new characters seem to lack the same spark of life as the old familiar favorites, and in the case of the story that has Hellboy running around Newford, are downright off-putting.
Normally when I read de Lint, I am swept away into an experience that makes me believe in the impossible, and encourages one to look at the world sideways, so as to see the magic that is hovering on the periphery. At the end of this volume, rather than feeling enchanted, I felt scolded, like an errant teenager who had been called on the carpet by a frustrated parent, and lectured about the need to make good choices and create something from her life. Indeed, many of the stories take on a moralistic tone that leaves one feeling preached at, rather than entertained.
This critique is more negative in tone than is congruent with my feelings after reading the collection, but as an ardent de Lint fan who actually buys the limited edition chapbooks and keeps them slipcovered on her bookshelf so they won’t be damaged by dust or sunlight, I wanted more than this book delivered. I would recommend Muse and Reverie to de Lint fans who want to keep up with the latest chapters in the Newford saga, but would not recommend it as representative of de Lint’s work as a whole.