Thursday, August 14, 2008

WOLF MOON, by Charles de Lint

An interesting book. It's a high-fantasy story, but it draws its power from familiar sources, namely a person's need to be loved, and their fear of rejection. The main character harbors a dark secret--he's a werewolf--which has kept him on the run for most of his adult life. His running leads him to an inn where he's accepted and cared for, and where he finds love. The story's antagonist, fueled by a fascistic arrogance and a hatred of werewolves, and aided by a magical ability to manipulate people, exposes the man and frames him, leading to his rejection by the inn folk, and his betrayal by his lover. The scene in which that betrayal happens was remarkably well realized--it actually affected my heart rate, got me all stressed out.

I suppose that the idea of using mundane issues as the core for Fantasy and Sci-Fi is nothing new, but it does seem like certain books (the DRAGONS OF AUTUMN TWILIGHT book I read a few months ago comes as a good example) don't subscribe to that approach, and suffer because of it. And there are different levels of weight that you can give to the mundane factor, too. In WOLF MOON it dominates the story. You could very well tell the story in a different setting, completely omitting werewolves and magic, and have it work equally well.

Another interesting thing about WOLF MOON is the level of attention it gives to relatively few events. I've read books that come across as a string of separate events, each event influencing the others to a certain extent, with the final sum of events reaching the double digits. In WOLF MOON only a few things happen, but they're explained in rich detail that fills pages. At times, especially when de Lint focuses in on character thoughts, the level of detail becomes bothersome, boring. But for the most part, it's rewarding to have each event thoroughly envisioned.

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