Back in the early to mid-1990’s, Charles de Lint was one of two novelists I read regularly. The other novelist was Dean Koontz. I had not been a big reader at that point in my life and I can attribute the love of reading in my adult life to both of these authors. I’m forever grateful for discovering both writers and I can attest in this blog post reading both authors has changed the course of my life. I had a favorite book from each novelist. It was Cold Fire by Dean Koontz. And it was The Little Country by Charles de Lint. I had re-read Cold Fire for a few years ago. Now, it was the time re-read The Little Country.
The Little Country tells the story of Janey Little, a musician from Cornwall, England and the discovery of a manuscript left by her grandfather’s best friend, William Dunthorn. Dunthorn asked his Janey’s grandfather, Tom, to never publish the manuscript titled The Little Country and always keep in his possession. Well, Janey finds the manuscript in the attic of the home she shares with her grandfather and reads it.
Upon opening its pages, the book attracts people from a secret society called Order of the Grey Dove. This organization is led by a mystic and sorcerer named John Madden. Madden is determined to find out the secret within Dunthorn’s book and use it for world domination.
de Lint uses a book-in-a-book trope to tell parallel stories connecting the magical world of Dunthorn’s manuscript and the real world of Cornwall well. Also, we learn that each reader of the manuscript gets a different version of the story suited to their personality. Will Janey Little and friends keep John Madden and various members of the Order of the Grey Dove from getting the book? The novel is a standard adventure story from that standpoint, but what makes it special is a quote like this one:
“Your world grows ever more regimented and orderly; soon it will lose all of its ability to imagine, to know enchantment, to be joyful for no other reason than that its people perceive the wonder of the world they are blessed to live in. Everything is put in boxes and compartmentalized and a grey pall hangs over the minds of its people.”
The Little Country was one of the first fantasy novels I had read with a philosophical depth I could ponder over. Re-reading it again brought the same thoughts back to life and confirmed why The Little Country is one of my all-time favorite novels. I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading this book and will give it my highest recommendation for 2018. If you are looking a standalone fantasy novel to try out, then The Little Country by Charles de Lint should be added to your TBR list.