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Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint

Someplace to be Flying (1998)

by Charles de Lint

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Newford Stories (8)

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1,402248,324 (4.24)54

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» See also 54 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
"The best change you can make is to hold up a mirror so that people can look into it and change themselves. That's the only way a person can be changed."

Picture [b:American Gods|30165203|American Gods|Neil Gaiman|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1462924585s/30165203.jpg|1970226] if it were bird-themed, set in the nineties, and every character was obsessed with art. Voila, we have Charles de Lint’s Someplace to be Flying.

The folklore is outstanding, the shifts between voices are believable, and although I wouldn't qualify de Lint's style as page-turning, it is immersive. The slow burn of the narrative allows the reader to become engrossed in a world that feels relatable and believable, and so when magic manifests, it's surprising. We discover things with the characters, which is really exciting.

I wouldn't recommend this novel to someone who has never read de Lint before, or at least to someone who hadn't read other novels set in the Newford universe. While the Newford books are not meant to be read chronologically (their characters intersect, but not in any linear fashion), Someplace to be Flying has a large and complex cast of characters. I've read three of de Lint's other Newford books, and I was still overwhelmed.

That's my main critique. While I found many of the characters to be incredibly compelling, they felt
kind of like gems in a pile of rocks: reading through so many (and often mundane) perspectives felt like work, and the remarkable characters were muted by comparison. Jack Daw's backstory, for example, is both illuminating and heartbreaking. For that chapter alone, I would award this novel 5 stars. But with so much time spent on less-interesting characters like Rory, Hank, Lily, and Kerry, the poignant moments of the novel were weighed down. I understand that de Lint is creating an entire city, here. A community of complex characters that each have their own back stories in different novels. The problem is, while each of their perspectives can be (and were) highlighted, it doesn't mean that they should have been. Doing so is too ambitious for one novel.

But even with having too many characters to focus on, I can't give this novel less than 4 stars. I think of characters like Cody, Raven, Maida, and Zia, and I know I won't forget them for a long time. Maybe ever. Because they're vivid and complex and I wish the novel could have devoted pages and pages more for each of their perspectives. This is where this review doubles in on itself: I want more of what I'm criticizing most. I want perspectives from the characters I like. I know that other readers will find other perspectives more compelling than I did (I didn't connect with the Kerry/Katy plotline or the Hank/Lily stuff), but I can definitely see how others would. Hell, those were the main characters.

Somehow I'm always falling in love with characters on the sidelines. ( )
  lhofer | Sep 26, 2018 |
Charles De Lint writes so beautifully in a blend of mythology, fantasy and fiction which is not only entertaining but enlightening. The themes and values his characters discuss and portray often leave you thinking and questioning your own beliefs and views. Woven through this narrative are questions of loyalty, love, what makes a family, principles and over all the damage that can be done trying to change the past instead of choosing a new direction for your future.
Makes me look at the crows and ravens where I live in a whole new light. ( )
  LindaWeeks | May 14, 2018 |
re-reading for book club - will be interesting to see what SF/F folks think. ( )
  kmajort | Feb 9, 2018 |
It was this book that woke me to the fact that my favorite de Lint character was the city of Newford.
Yes I did read it twice inside 3 days ( )
  quondame | Dec 28, 2017 |
Every Charles de Lint book i read seems better than the last one and i have been reading them in no particular order. The multiplicity of textures achieved by so many characters is sometimes hard to follow but never the less i feel enriched by reading these books.
  newnoz | Aug 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles de Lintprimary authorall editionscalculated
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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So I asked the raven as he passed by,
I said, "Tell me, raven, why'd you make the sky?"
"The moon and stars, I threw them high,
I needed someplace to be flying."
—Kiya Heartwood, from "Wyoming Wind"
If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.
— Rev. Henry Ward Beecher (mid-1800s)
It's a long long road
it's a big big world
we are wise wise women
we are giggling girls
we both carry a smile
to show when we're pleased
both carry a switchblade
in our sleeves
—Ani DiFranco, from "If He Tries Anything"
For Kiya
First words
Newford, Late August, 1996
The streets were still wet but the storm clouds had moved on as Hank drove south on Yoors waiting for a fare.
You've got to spread out as far as you can, cut down a whole forest, irrigate a whole desert, just to make sure that you won't accidentally stumble upon a place that's still in its natural state.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 076530757X, Paperback)

Nobody does urban fantasy better than Charles de Lint. He has a gift for creating engaging, fully realized characters, totally believable dialogue, and a feeling that magic is just around the corner.

Someplace to Be Flying is set in Newford, a town familiar to readers of de Lint. (He set two prior novels (Memory and Dream and Trader) and two anthologies (Dreams Underfoot and The Ivory and the Horn) in Newford.) One late night, as Hank drives his gypsy cab, his reliable though perilous city is transformed. He encounters the mythical "animal people," and the experience leaves him--and the reader--questioning accepted reality.

"Hank just wanted away from here. He'd sampled some hallucinogens when he was a kid and the feeling he had now was a lot like coming down from an acid high. Everything slightly askew, illogical things that somehow made sense, everything too sharp and clear when you looked at it but fading fast in your peripheral vision, blurred, like it didn't really exist." Fans of Emma Bull and Terri Windling (as both an editor and an author) will enjoy de Lint. He can make you believe "as many as six impossible things before breakfast." --Nona Vero

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:49 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Here is Lily, a photojournalist in search of the "animal people" who supposedly haunt the city's darkest slums. Here is Hank, who knows those slums all too well. One night, in a brutal incident, their lives collide-uptown Lily and downtown Hank, each with a quest and a role to play in the secret drama of the city's oldest inhabitants. For the animal people walk among us. Native Americans call them the First People, but they have never left, and they claim the city for their own. Not only have Hank and Lily stumbled onto a secret, they've stumbled into a war. And in this battle for the city's soul, nothing is quite as it appears.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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