I’ll be Watching You by Charles de Lint

I’m a huge fan of Charles de Lint as anyone who has read this blog for some time knows. He writes some of the best fantasy out there in my opinion, mostly in the Urban Fantasy genre…one of my favorite of the fantasy sub-genres. I‘ll be Watching You is one of several books that he wrote under the pen name Samuel Key where he takes a departure from fantasy instead focusing on horror and murder-mystery type novels. It works…I’ll say that much, but at the same time this is my least favorite of the de Lint novels that I’ve read.

Much of the book felt awkward to me and that may be because I had a pre-conceived notion of what a de Lint novel should be. His imagination just doesn’t seem as free to roam with this one and it almost felt like he was held back when writing this novel. It feels like maybe an amateur de Lint book. I know…it sounds like I hated it, but that’s far from the truth. Once I really got into this one, I REALLY got into it and couldn’t put it down. It becomes fast paced about 150 pages in and then it just doesn’t let go, and his imagination is still certainly here as he comes up with some pretty inventive ways of killing people…I just wanted some supernatural element to enter :p But that’s my own bias. I understand that this wasn’t one of those books of his, so I partly feel bad for even judging it on that.

So er…what’s this book all about anyway? I bet you want to know that. Rachel Sorensen is a woman who has long been kept under her husband’s abusive hand. Once an artist, she’s now become lost in fear. As the book opens, she’s left her husband after he once put a gun to her head and tried to kill her while off of his medication. And now she lives in fear that he’ll come back to finish the deed. She’s taken steps to remove herself from him and hide herself, yet he still manages to track her down of course.

While Rachel thinks she’s worthless, there is a man across the street from her apartment building who does not. We soon meet Harry Landon, once a famous photographer who has now disappeared into the shadows. He’s become infatuated with Rachel, convinced that she’s the goddess who will restore beauty to the world. He just has to “release” that goddess who’s trapped inside her body. He watches her every move from a telescope in his apartment, taking pictures of her through her window, dressing up in disguises to follow her, and slowly working his way into her life. He’s become obsessed. And he wants no harm done to her. When Rachel’s ex-husband comes back to claim her life again, he’s killed by a mysterious man who Rachel begins to think of as her guardian angel, the same man that is watching her every move unbeknownst to her. However, things begin to seem less angelic as people start dying all around her for the smallest of offenses.

So I know that I kind of sounded like I was trashing this novel at the beginning of the post, but it’s really a good book with just a few “oh brother” parts to it that are way to predictable. Like I said, I just don’t think this is his genre, but it still made for an excellent RIP read and it was truly a riveting story that kept me awake late into the night….and looking over my shoulder all the time by the way.

Now that you have this schizophrenic review to go on, I hope that you do decide to read this one if you’re looking for a good murder-mystery…just promise me you’ll try some of his fantasy too πŸ˜‰

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11 Responses

  1. I’m so sad the library/Borders didn’t have this one. I’m ok with a lesser de Lint book, as long as it’s scary! I’m listening to a current scary book that definitely has ‘oh brother’ moments. It’s funny: I think I’m a little more forgiving in the horror genre!

  2. Well, I guess a writer doesn’t know what he “can’t do” until he gives it a try…

    as I read the RIP reviews I think I’ve read the most reviews where there was disappointment in what’s being read than ever before.

  3. Oooh, that is one creepy cover! I think that alone would give me nightmares! But I’m definitely going to try to get my hands on this one! Before the world of book blogging widened my horizons, this was the type of book I read quite a bit of…murder/mystery/thriller type stuff. Will be nice to re-visit that world. And then, yes, I promise to try something by de Lint as well! πŸ™‚

  4. Errr…I meant “something else” by de Lint.

  5. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have been able to keep my pre-set notions of what a de Lint novel should be out of the story either. But I bet it’s fun to see what he’s like when he’s writing something completely different.

    It definitely still sounds like a worthwhile read. And like a super creepy one too. Very few books actually scare me, but stalker stories are among the ones that do it!

  6. Eva, I’m definitely the same way when it comes to horror novels…much more forgiving. As long as it creeps me out a little bit, I’m pretty much happy with it :p This one really was good though, I hope you find it!

    Deslily, Yeah, I’ve seen quite a bit of disappointment too so far! I wasn’t really disappointed so much in this one as it was just a little awkward at times. Still a pretty good book though.

    Debi, You really should get your hands on this one! I really think this is a book that you would love. I’m going to try another one of his Samuel Key books soon. Darla reviewed one awhile ago that sounded really good. But yeah, definitely read some de Lint fantasy too πŸ˜‰

    Nymether, Well good, I’m glad I’m not alone in my notions! lol…It really was fun to see a whole book written by him with not fantasy elements. He did a great job considering. It’s a worthwhile read for sure and I think you’d like it if you can track it down. Definitely creepy on the stalker front!

  7. Because there are so many more de Lint books I want to read I’m not sure this one would’ve been up near the top even if you had raved about it. I’m way too behind on my de Lint reading! However it doesn’t sound like a complete disappointment so when I get through the rest of his books I may pick it up. It would have been curious to see your thoughts on it had you not known it was a de Lint book. Would you have stuck with it? Would you have found it better in the beginning because of non-de-Lint expectations?

  8. I left you an award on my site. πŸ™‚

  9. Funny, that was the same reaction I had to Wolf Moon, which I haven’t reviewed yet and will tomorrow – good writing but slightly cliche because he is constrained by the genre….maybe I’ll use that in my review tomorrow, too! thanks for the good review, it’s hard to say why a book by a favourite author disappoints me, I always feel a little disloyal when I say it. Very good review, Chris!

  10. It’s amazing how an author can have so many different voices, depending on the genre. I liked your distinction between awkward writing versus a not-so-good novel.

  11. Cool I will remember when I get around to it that it isn’t one of his usual novels and hopefully temper my expectations a little. Sounds like you enjoyed it overall which is the main thing.

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