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The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint
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The Mystery of Grace

by Charles de Lint

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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
It wasn't what I was expecting, but maybe I had my hopes too high. But there were a lot of things that were weird about this book, and not really in a good way.

First of all, there's Grace. She's not bad. She's interesting because of her interests, though when I try to think back on it I can't really remember her personality. She likes cars and rockabilly and has a lot of tattoos. What are those tattoos? Well, there are descriptions of two of them, but the rest... She's just a heavily tattooed girl. It's mentioned so much and she has the recurring problem of people looking at her warily because of her tattoos, but we don't get to know what they all are? Frustrating.

The world that Grace finds herself in isn't quite believable. If they're completely self-contained, why do they still have food and showers and stuff? Where does the water come from? Maybe it's stupid, but the world just didn't seem to have enough detail. It didn't seem real, though I guess you could argue that it's not supposed to.

John. Stereotypical. Hovering over the line between creepy and devoted. His friends, like Grace, are defined primarily by their interests while delving into their personalities isn't anywhere. Nina is the go-getting girl, also into wicca. Danny is the gamer nerd who can't get a girl. Wes is gay. Okay.

The plot. It was interesting. I genuinely didn't know how it was going to resolve itself, so at least there really was a "mystery" in here. But it was kind of all over the place, like it didn't know what it wanted to be. The romance was there of course, though just as a instant-connection-deep-love kind of way. Then there's the whole mystery of the dead world. Suddenly there's a witch, with absolutely no foreshadowing at all. There's some stuff about faith. There's some stuff about a mother's love and Grace's family issues.

The book just wasn't long enough to actually investigate all of these things. They popped in and out of the story, making it feel disconnected and a little confusing.

It's weird though, because normally I like Charles de Lint and his books aren't so scattered. Not sure what happened to this one. It's a shame because the cover and concept are really cool. ( )
  BrynDahlquis | Mar 20, 2017 |
Charles de Lint is my favorite author. Period. So I grabbed this without even looking at the bookflap and just plunged in. Do yourself a favor and do the same thing. Without knowing anything about the book, the prologue is one of the best hooks I've read in a long time. But you can't know anything about the story beforehand. But, man, what a hook!

One of the things I love about de Lint is how his characters always have faith in something bigger than themselves, but that faith doesn't necessarily take the form of organized religion. He incorporates the best elements from many different religions and mythologies to build a story that most people can relate to. This book has a great love story, but the point is really to explore faith, grace, and having the courage to let go.

The biggest thing that I love about de Lint is his characters. Within a few pages, his characters feel like old friends. Grace is no exception. Tough, tattoo-covered, hot-rod building Grace is easy to pigeonhole. But there are many surprising sides to her personality, and she quickly became a character I won't forget. But what makes his characters stand out to me are the way they interact with each other and the world. They usually have some of their own serious issues, but they also generally seem to believe that, while they might not be able to single-handedly change the world, they can change their parts of it. They live to try to ease the way for others they encounter. They understand that life is hard enough without people beating each other down. We should build each other up. De Lint got all of that into this book too.

Most of my favorite books by this author are set in the fictional city of Newford, with some recurring characters throughout. I was initially a little disappointed that this wasn't a Newford book, and that I wouldn't get to check in on Jilly and Geordie and friends, but I quickly got over that. This still wasn't my very favorite book of his, but this was definitely one of my favorites.

In all honestly, the story was probably 4 stars. But the ideas behind the book are 5 stars. I love this guy, I loved this book, and I can't recommend either highly enough. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Apr 3, 2013 |
3.5-4.0 stars

I enjoyed this short novel, but found it hard to categorize since it crossed so many subgenres. Ghost, spirits or spiritwalkers, a smidgen of Native American shamanism, a pinch of paganism (Wiccans at the Witches' Ball no less), Catholic saints, a peculiar Purgatory, existentialism, a dangerous delusional mother and a surprising touch of redemption wrapped in tattoos. Oh, and a brief romance kindled after the protagonist's death. Trust me, it sounds strange (it is strange), but de Lint delivers. ( )
  mossjon | Mar 31, 2013 |
This was not comparable to the rest of de Lint's fiction. I think his best work is in his short stories, although I really do like some of his novels (Someplace to be Flying, for example). But this just doesn't compare. It was an easy, quick read, and not so bad that I didn't finish... but it wasn't very satisfying. ( )
  amaraduende | Mar 30, 2013 |
That summary has some beautiful writing itself, as there are major things that happen at the start of the book that are delicately phrased there. I am grateful that the summary tread so lightly, as the book completely surprised me with where it went and what happened from there.

There is a love story, but the book isn't a romance by any means. The true focus is on the mystery around Grace: what happened to her and her neighbors, why, and how to resolve it--if it can or should be resolved. If you have read any of de Lint's work before, you know he's a master at setting mood. The setting here may be the dusty desert southwest, but it has the full creepy vibe of his fog-filled Newford. Much of the tension is from the setting, because the book itself isn't action packed. Not many big things happen. Even so, I was completely engrossed by the book. The ending may have been a bit low key, but it still worked. There's also a horrible twist near the end that made me yelp out loud and then gnaw my lip in worry.

The Mystery of Grace is indeed mysterious, and beautiful, and frightening. I'm keeping this one on my shelf. ( )
  ladycato | Jun 13, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles de Lintprimary authorall editionscalculated
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I do not understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us.

—Anne Lamott, from Traveling Mercies
We stand always on the edge of wonder . . . and need only to be pointed in the right direction to see it.

—Robert J. Howe, from his introduction to Coney Island Wonder Stories
When we die . . . it will be different for each of us.

—Tori Amos, from an interview in Mojo, October 2006
The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.

—G. K. Chesterton
Dedication
for
Paddy & Jim
(still hot-rodders at heart)
First words
She woke up when he got out of bed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765317567, Hardcover)

On the Day of the Dead, the Solona Music Hall is jumping.  That's where Altagracia Quintero meets John Burns, just two weeks too late.

Altagracia – her friends call her Grace – has a tattoo of Nuestra Señora de Altagracia on her shoulder, she's got a Ford Motor Company tattoo running down her leg, and she has grease worked so deep into her hands that it'll never wash out.  Grace works at Sanchez Motorworks, customizing hot rods.  Finding the line in a classic car is her calling.

Now Grace has to find the line in her own life.  A few blocks around the Alverson Arms is all her world -- from the little grocery store where she buys beans, tamales, and cigarettes (“cigarettes can kill you,” they tell her, but she smokes them anyway) to the record shop, to the library where Henry, a black man confined to a wheelchair, researches the mystery of life in death – but she’s got unfinished business keeping her close to home.

Grace loves John, and John loves her, and that would be wonderful, except that John, like Grace, has unfinished business – he’s haunted by the childhood death of his younger brother.  He's never stopped feeling responsible. Like Grace in her way, John is an artist, and before their relationship can find its resolution, the two of them will have to teach each other about life and love, about hot rods and Elvis Presley, and about why it's necessary to let some things go.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Altagracia--her friends call her Grace--has a tattoo of Nuestra Senora de Altagracia on her shoulder, she's got a Ford Motor Company tattoo running down her leg, and she has grease worked so deep into her hands that it'll never wash out. Grace works at Sanchez Motorworks, customizing hot rods. Finding the line in a classic car is her calling. Grace loves John, and John loves her, and that would be wonderful, except that John, like Grace, has unfinished business: he's haunted by the childhood death of his younger brother. He's never stopped feeling responsible. Like Grace in her way, John is an artist, and before their relationship can find its resolution, the two of them will have to teach each other about life and love, about hot rods and Elvis Presley, and about why it's necessary to let some things go.--from Publisher description.… (more)

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