Someplace To Be Flying by Charles de Lint

28 Feb

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There is a myth that is as old as time. The world was created by Raven, the dark bird of mystery, as he stirred magic in an old black pot. The pot created more than the world: it created the Animal People, spirits as old as time itself. They are the First People and they roamed the land, able to change forms.

Out of the pot came the Blue Jay, the Wolf, and The Crow. There also came the Coyote, the Trickster. Always up to no good, he is the outcast of the First People. Most of his mischief is harmless, little tricks to amuse. But sometimes, he causes more trouble; enough trouble to slip through to our world.

Trouble starts when Lily, a photojournalist, goes looking for the famed “animal people” that are supposed to roam around Newford. One night while investigating the stories in a dark part of town known as the Tombs, a strange gray man attacks Lilly. Coming to her aid is Hank, no stranger to the Tombs and the rougher side of life.

He goes to her aid and the man attacks him as well. Lilly and Hank fight there attacker until something distracts him: two small girls who came from nowhere. They finish off the man with small switchblades that fell from their sleeves and Hank and Lilly are left stunned.

Tending to their wounds, pain disappearing at their touch, the two Crow girls sing a soft song with a haunting melody: The cuckoo is a pretty bird, he sings as he flies. He sucks little birds’ eggs, and then he just dies.

Dazed from the attack and the subsequent healing of two little girls, Hank and Lilly wander way, changed forever. They can now see the world of Fey, the world of the in between. Unbeknownst to them, they are now entangled in what will become a web of mysteries, a tryst. They have stumbled upon war.

There is murder in the darker underbelly to Newford than either could have imagined. They have stumbled upon the war of the Caenid against the Corboe: Bird against Dog. This is a war where no one is safe and the fate of both worlds will be affected. Hank and Lilly must learn to fight in order to save their lives and the life of others.

And so the story goes…

Charles De Lint has created a novel for the ages. “Someplace to Be Flying” is an incredible voyage through myth, through story, through dreams. This has remained among my favorite of De Lint’s novels and perhaps one of his most eloquent. There is layer upon layer of story here and the only way to work your way through them is to become involved in the story.

More involving are all the types of myth within the story: Celtic, Native American to name just a couple. De Lint has managed to weave the story of many people and many different faiths into one whole work that just sings with magic. He has managed to create characters that you can really care about and a story that is part mystery, part myth and part comment on our time.

If you haven’t read “Someplace to be Flying,” you don’t know what you’re missing. From the moment the Crow Girls come into the story, you are drawn into a labyrinth of words and dreams. The only way out of the maze is to finish the book; but you may never be the same again.

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