Moonheart by Charles de Lint


One of the things that I’ve come to love about Charles de Lint is his ability to capture the essence and spirit of the fantastic and to portray that perfectly to the reader in a way that brings out a glow like a child discovering magic for the first time. With Moonheart, de Lint once again has captured my heart and brought me on a journey that I loved every second of.

Moonheart is a very complex story. There are many interweaving story lines which works very well with the theme of Native American souls, spirits, and connectedness. It begins as the story of Sara Kendell. Sara co-owns a wonderful little antiques and book shop in Ottawa called The Merry Dancers. One day, while unpacking one of the boxes from an old estate, Sara discovers a painting of two Native American men, and a medicine bag which contains a gold ring, a bone disc with a quarter moon on one side and a stag on the other, and a feather. The contents of this box are what goes on to form a truly amazing and epic story.

Sara lives with her uncle, Jamie Tams. Jamie is more of a friend to Sara and is the co-owner of the shop. Jamie is also the owner of Tamson house where they live. Tamson house is a wonderful thing. The house is a character in itself. It’s a giant house encompassing an entire city block and has had numerous occupants coming and going throughout the years. It’s an old house with all of the wonderful features of an old house. There is a courtyard in the middle of the house that is more like a park with beautiful gardens. Here’s where the twist comes in. The house exists not only in Ottawa, but in the Otherworld as well.

While at a diner one day, Sara is approached by a stranger, a musician, named Kieran Foy. What eventually ensues brings her to this Otherworld. The otherworld is a beautiful, rich forest untouched by mankind. It is inhabited by Native Americans who practice ancient magics and follow ancient ways. The contents of the medicine bag tie Sara to this world now, and we soon learn that fate had it arranged that way. When all of the inhabitants of Tamson House are spirited away to the Otherworld, the battle against an ancient evil, an ancient feud begins. The ancient evil is a being named Ma’lek’a and it’s allies are the Tragg’a and both are truly horrifying creatures.

This only begins to touch on the story. I could go on for pages and pages describing this wonderful book to you, but I recommend that you read it yourself. There are many wonderful characters in this book, and I came to love so many of them. Blue, Taliesin, Hengwr, Tucker, just to name a few.

I love the cover art for the book. It was done by David Bergen and sums up the feel of the book perfectly! Bergen also did the cover art for Greenmantle, I believe, another great book of de Lint’s. There’s also a highly desired version of this book with art by Charles Vess which was published by Subterranean Press. I’d love to get my hands on a copy of that.

It took me a long time to read this book. It’s definitely not a sit down and read it quick book. It was much like reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell to me. Very rewarding, but I couldn’t plow through it. I loved it though, and it has definitely secured me as a de Lint fan. All of the de Lint themes are here…magic, Native American folklore, music, the power of bonds and ties in humanity. De Lint’s writing is wonderful. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite passages that I feel sums up the feel of the book:

Tonight he stood alone, his back to the Bearstone and his gaze searching the shadows that lay in amongst the pines, waiting for the one he knew would come. A trembling touched the air, soft as a breath across the strings of his harp. The scent of pine resin and sea were swallowed by the heady odor of apple blossoms, rich and pungent as they are in the spring. Sometimes his grandsire came in the shape of Taliesin’s own craftfather – old Myrddin, black hair greying, but still tied back at the nape of his neck, golden eyes deep with dreaming. And sometimes he was the green man in a cloak of oak leaves and mistletoe, face like a fox, narrow and brown. Tonight he came as a stag, brow heavy with twelve-pointed antlers, his reddish-brown coat gleaming in the starlight, his eyes heavy with riddles.

“Are you content?” he asked the bard.

Taliesin inclined his head respectfully. “Content indeed.”

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18 Responses

  1. I’ve been waiting for your review on this one as it is one that I am very interested in. Sounds great. Now…will I be good or will I give in and get the Vess version?

  2. uh…..duh, get the Vess version, lol…If you can afford it that is πŸ˜‰ It really was a great book. I’m very interested in seeing Vess’ illustrations for it. I think that I may eventually have to give in as well and get the Vess version.

  3. This book sounds truly wonderful. It really is about time I read Charles De Lint.

    Great review!

  4. Nice Review!! Of course, now I want to read it too!! I’ve only read one Charles de Lint….The Little Country. It was actually the first fantasy book I read as an adult. It’s actually the one that got me interested in the genre. And it was pretty complex too. There were 2 main story lines, but a lot of little side ones. Made it a challenge to read, but it was well worth it!

  5. Nymeth, He’s great! I think you’d like him.

    Stephanie, I haven’t read The Little Country yet, but it’s sitting on my bookshelf πŸ™‚ This seems to be a trend of his (the multiple story lines). They all sort of tie into one another. It sort of frustrated me at the beginning just because there were so many characters, but I loved them all by the end. Great book!

  6. *runs to office, checks shelf*

    I DO have this one!

    Now I don’t have to complain about you feeding my book addiction.

    πŸ˜‰

    (Great review, btw)

  7. Dagnabbit. I’ve got to get my mitts on one of this guy’s books. Great review, Chris!

  8. Marina, haha…doesn’t it feel good to discover a book you want to read and then find that you don’t have to buy it?!

    Bookfool, Don’t you have one coming in the mail? I really think you’ll like him.

  9. oh boy.. well, “complex” is not good for old ladies with only one brain cell left working!

    However, I did what I shouldn’ t do because I am so badly out of places to keep my books (and still replacing some old paperbacks with hardbacks)… I checked his name in amazon and there is one of his that sounds interesting to me..if you read it tell me if that too is complex please! It’s Greenmantle. I also need only hardbacks since my one eye is sorta blurry from floaters that has largely been the reason I am going over to only hardbacks.. If you read Greenmantle..let me know!

  10. Deslily, I have read Greenmantle and I loved it! It’s not very complex at all πŸ˜‰ This story wasn’t really hard to read, it just took a little while to get into. It works itself out. I think you’ll love Greenmantle. It’s one of my favorite books. I have a review of it somewhere on my blog.

  11. Thanks Chris.. I think lol.. dang, another one for the wish list! lol… i think i will have a problem though finding it in hardback… but I’ll keep an eye out for it!

  12. Nope, I don’t have one coming just yet. It’s on my wish list at PBS and has been for quite a while. I’m sure I’ll eventually get a copy of the one I’m waiting on, but you make his writing sound so wonderful that I wish I could get bumped up the list a little faster. I’m trying really hard not to spend money on books. I have soooo many!

  13. I know all about how hard it can be to not spend money on books! I’ve been debating on going to the bookstore tonight actually. I think I’m going to resist the urge.

    And Deslily, Moonheart is an oversized paperback, so it might not be too bad for you!

  14. I loved Little Country – one of my favorite fantasy books ever. I have several more de Lints waiting for me on my bookshelf. Unfortunately, Moonheart isn’t one of them. Will have to get it one of these days.

  15. Booklogged, So glad that you liked The Little Country! I’m going to have to make that my next de Lint now. I highly suggest Moonheart. I think you’d like it.

  16. This book is on my TBR list along with a few other De Lints. I think I would buy this book just for the great cover but your review makes me want to read it even more.

  17. Thanks framed! Isn’t the cover great! It captures the feeling of the book perfectly.

  18. […] Reviews: Bart’s Bookshelf, Green Man Review, Stuff as Dreams are Made On Did I miss your review? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it […]

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