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The Painted Boy by Charles de Lint
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The Painted Boy

by Charles de Lint

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Very enjoyable. Set in SW where a young Boy from Chicago who is the descendant of a Chinese Yellow dragon clan must find a way to understand his power and to rid the community of gangs and other hoodlums. Very much in the urban fantasy vein with a SW twist. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
Wow, was I disappointed in this book. De Lint is usually so, so much better. Review to come. ( )
  Crowinator | Sep 23, 2013 |
Before picking this book up, I had heard of Charles de Lint, but had never gotten around to giving any of his books a try yet. Well, I will now. I loved this book from the first couple of pages and it never lost my interest. The story is original, the characters likable and the plot well-paced. Charles de Lint, if this book is representative, is a master storyteller and I cannot wait to read more of his books. I may have just found a new favorite!

The only thing that I disliked about this book was some unevenness in the point of view, which may have been sorted out in the finalized copy of the book. Most of the story is told in third person and follows various characters. Occasionally though, a section will be given the heading "Jay" and will be told from Jay's perspective. While this is clear, it does feel a bit like cheating. Either do the whole book from Jay's perspective or do it all in third person. This might not have bothered me had it felt like there was any reason for these four or so sections to be from his point of view; I really do not think that these windows to his thoughts added anything that could not have been done with the third person narration.

Jay has a major task to accomplish and a bad guy to take down, which is typical for a fantasy novel, but that is not the real focus of the novel. The Painted Boy is first and foremost a Bildungsroman, a coming of age story for Jay. The focus is placed on his inner development and not on the external struggle. Do not think that this means the book lacks plot or excitement because of this.

Highly recommended!
( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
The southwestern US desert seemed like an unusual setting for a de Lint novel at first, but the magic that is characteristic of his stories quickly made itself apparent. Those who have read his work before will recognize the animal spirits before they are explained.

Jay Li is a teenager sent from Chicago to the border town of Santo del Vado Viejo by his grandmother, Paupau. He’s got a picture of a golden dragon on his back- not a tattoo, but a design that rose, painfully, through his skin when he was 11. From that time, Paupau trained him intensely, both mentally and physically for his future destiny. What that destiny is, she never said. She doesn’t explain any of it, in fact, but only tells him that he is a golden dragon, like herself.

No sooner is Jay off the bus when gangbangers come after him. Their leader wants to see him. He escapes, and runs into Rosalie, aka Our Lady of the Barrio, a teen who takes in all strays that come her way- including human ones. She relies on her gut feeling and has her uncle give Jay a job at his restaurant and a room at his house. For a couple of weeks, Jay finally has a near normal life- no grandmother and her drills, just work and friends.

But of course that can’t last. The gangs are ubiquitous and a death occurs. Jay feels responsible and knows he has to find out how to use these powers he’s supposed to have.

Sadly, the author strikes the lessons of the story home with a sledgehammer, something I have never seen de Lint do before. It has the subtlety of an After School Special. I was greatly surprised by this. Also, the characters did not have the depth that I’m used to seeing from de Lint. It was almost like they were just there to serve up the morals of the story. But still, the book is worth reading. The magic that de Lint always weaves is there, making the reader really feel that there is magic in place, in land, in the creatures, in the connections we all share. I don’t like the desert, but the author made me see the beauty in it. I loved the blending of Native American and Chinese myth. If you’re a YA fantasy fan, I’d say give it a try. Just don’t expect it to be a warmer, dryer version of Newford. ( )
  dark_phoenix54 | Jun 3, 2011 |
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High-schooler Jay Li finds himself in the Arizona desert performing dangerous feats as part of his journey to prove himself a worthy member of the part human, part dragon Yellow Dragon Clan.

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