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Bookends: The Girls, the Ghost, the Fairies and Thing that Lives in the Closet December 29, 2013

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: The Girls, the Ghost, the Fairies and Thing that Lives in the Closet

By Dan Davidson

The Blue Girl

March 20, 2013

– 787 words –

 

The Blue Girl

By Charles DeLint

Firebird Fantasy

368 pages

$10.99

 

In the strange city of Newford the lines between our world and other realities are just a little bit thinner than they are in other places. As a result some people there are attuned to the existence of the supernatural. This is a North American city but, aside from its human population, it is home to a polyglot assortment of indigenous and immigrant faeries, minor gods, shapeshifters and other creatures.

Recently it has become the home of 17 year old Imogene, whose family has moved there after her mother and father, who were previously free spirited hippie types, separated. She and her brother, Jared, have to fit into a new school and find a new social life.

For Imogene this is more of a chore, an actual reinvention, as she decides to leave behind her gang-oriented habits and try to clean up her act.  One of her first decisions at school is to stay away from cliques and pick a friend who seems the least likely to be part of one. Thus it is that she settles on Maxine, who is definitely the odd girl out at Redding High.

Imogene’s is one of the first person narratives we follow, bouncing back and forth in time in chapters headed “then” and “now”.

Maxine’s is another path we take, though her chapters are mostly in the “now”.

Our final narrator is Adrian, also a “then” and “now” fellow, but he’s a bit different, since he’s a ghost – a ghost with quite a crush on Imogene. Strangely Imogene can see him, talk with him, and yet refuses to believe in the fairie creatures that he explains tricked him into what turned out to be a suicide dive off the roof of the school some years back.

Annoyed with her, Adrian asks his friends if there isn’t some way to get her to believe in them. There is, but it’s a solution that enhances a sort of “shine” that Imogene already has, and makes her a mortal target for creatures called the anamithim.

Fortunately, Imogene’s peculiar talent has already enabled her to communicate with Pelly, the imaginary friend that she used to believe in when she was a child, and he (or it) assists her in coping with her supernatural problems.

Perhaps the weakest plot point in the book is that a girl who can see a ghost and converse with an imaginary friend doesn’t want to believe in fairies, but this attitude is what provides the trigger for the problems which follow, so I’ll let it go. The story was too enjoyable to quibble much about that.

Much of the book is quite down to earth, as Imogene and Maxine work out problems with their respective mothers and influence each other in ways that neither of them really notice until later in the story. Imogene needs to become more responsible and Maxine needs to loosen up. Both things happen, and their home relationships improve. Since this is a rare development in books aimed at young adult audiences, I found it quite refreshing.

Friends of the Newford books will find a few names and one character that they will have met before, but this is a book that doesn’t require you to have read any of the previous Newford Chronicles (a sizeable shelf of novels and short story collections at this point) to make sense of the time and place.

DeLint is one of the originators of the sub-genre critics refer to as urban fantasy, and has collected quite a few awards in the fantasy world over the years. He is a roots musician as well as a writer and has a very tenuous Yukon connection in that his father worked here briefly as highway engineer when DeLint was just a baby.

His books often don’t seem to make it to the mass market paperback stage, but are available in very comfortable to read trade editions with good bindings that seem to stay in print. This book is listed as having been aimed at Grade 9 and up, and I can see that, but aside from the age of its protagonists, I didn’t find this vastly different than his novels with adult characters. DeLint frequently spends some time exploring the childhood backgrounds of his large cast of regular characters.

As always with this writer, I had a good time and was sorry to see the story come to an end. I don’t think I’d want to live in Newford, but I always enjoy my visits there.

 

-30-

 

 

 

 

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