Widdershins by Charles de Lint

28 Feb

widdershins.jpg

wid·der·shins (w d r-sh nz ) or with·er·shins (w th -)adv.


In a contrary or counterclockwise direction: “The coracle whirled round, clockwise, then widdershins” (Anthony Bailey).

What would you do for love? Would you write a sonnet? Would you climb mountains for it? Would you battle for it? What about traveling to an alternate universe inside of the woman that you love, to battle beings from her past? This is just what Geordie Riddell has to do to save the love of his life, Jilly Coppercorn.

Fans of Charles De Lint’s Newford books have been waiting with bated breath for Jilly and Geordie to get together and realize the one thing that everyone else knows: They love each other. But they’ll have a lot to get through before they even realize their love exists. There is trouble brewing on the streets of Newford and, as usual, the Fey are involved.

Animosity is building between the Fey clans: The Native American Spirits that have lived since before time began and the New Spirits: those that have come later or immigrated on ships and barges. There is a thunder that is starting in the ground, a rhythm of drums; and the drums mean war.

Geordie and Jilly become involved in the battle through no fault of their own, though the danger has already been predicted for Geordie. If he hopes to survive, he must depend on those around him; especially Jilly. Regrettably, through Goblin involvement, she has withdrawn inside herself, to a world that exists only within her. There, Jilly the Broken Girl, has to relive all of her old hates, her old hurts.

If Geordie plans on saving her, he will need all the help he can get. But in the world of the Fey, there is one cardinal rule: Nothing is ever easy….

For as long as I can remember, Jilly Coppercorn has been my favorite character in De Lint’s Newford books. I identify with her for various reasons, she’s fun, has a good sense of humour; we’re both artists. It’s like she breathes in flesh and blood instead of just on the printed page.

De Lint’s many fans, myself included, have been waiting and waiting to know what would happen to Jilly after 2002’s “The Onion Girl”. And many more wanted to know when Geordie and Jilly would get together. The time has finally come to find out.

“Widdershins” is easily De Lint’s best novel to date. It’s almost like literary fantasy; its themes include discrimination, prejudices, racism, feuds, battles, all told in this glorious prose. The story flows off the page, rather than being just a bunch of printed words. “Widdershins” is also surprisingly somber.

Compared to some of his earlier works where the otherworld in Newford was a little brighter, here we see a darker side of Newford that we have not seen before. There is also some very grim subject matter that, for me, made parts of the novel difficult to read. This is mostly because I care about the characters so much that I hate to read or see anything bad happen to them.

In the end, “Widdershins” is a masterwork. A deft weaving of faiths, lore, legend, characters and plot. The result? A wonderful tapestry of story that just cries out for your attention. Read it and be enchanted.

I for one will be haunted by “Widdershins” for some time.

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One Response to “Widdershins by Charles de Lint”

  1. Mel March 16, 2007 at 2:05 am #

    charles DeLint has been one of my favorite authors ever since i first read “the onion girl” and was introduced to the character of Jilly Coppercorn and the world of Newford. I found myself at the end of “The Onion Girl” thinking “well, what’s next”? and “Widdershins” definitely satisfied my curiosity.

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