Wisdom From Kammbia Review 129: Forests of the Heart by Charles de Lint

by | Sep 24, 2023 | 2023 Book Reviews, Book Reviews, Charles De Lint, Marion's Favorite Books, Marion's Favorites, Wisdom From Kammbia Column | 0 comments

In all my years reading (and writing), if someone asked me who is your favorite novelist, what would I write? I have to write that it is Charles de Lint.  Over the past three decades, I have kept de Lint novels on my shelf more than any other author.  Two of my all-time favorite novels: The Little Country & Memory and Dream, are written by him. He is the biggest influence on my own stories set in Kammbia.

I believe his brand of contemporary fantasy is unique to the genre and deserves higher recognition as one of the writers that has changed it for the better. I would urge fantasy lovers (and non-fantasy readers) to include de Lint as a must read writer.

Forests of the Heart is the seventh book chronologically in his Newford series set in the fictional city of the same name. De Lint blends urban life with magic and diverse mythology that seems realistic, which is unique in fantasy literature.

This novel tells the story of Bettina, a part Indian and Mexican woman who can see into the spirit world and has the gift of healing.  However, there are a group of men called The Gentry who are determined to gain power and control the spirit world that Bettina has a connection too.

Bettina arrives in Newford and lives at the artists’ colony of Kellygnow, far away from her birthplace in Arizona. She sees The Gentry, a group of Irish spirit men who relocated to Newford, and discovers they’re linked to Nuala Fahey, the fey housekeeper of the estate.

Nuala has made a bargain with The Gentry. She wants immortality for helping them defeat the manitou, native spirits to the city. The housekeeper owns an ancient and powerful mask—but it’s broken. So Nuala commissions a woman named Ellie, a sculptor to make a copy of the mask. Ellie possesses a magic that will awaken another spirit to defeat the manitou.

The spirit called the Glasduine was summoned by an artist named Donal, who wanted access to that power in order to have a better life. The Glasduine is determined to be free from the spirit world and exert its power over the natural world.  Bettina and several characters were forced into a confrontation with the spirit and caused a sacrifice in order for its defeat.

De Lint ultimately writes a story that deals with someone’s calling. Are you able to truly embrace what you are called to do in life?  If not, then the consequences of that decision can cause harm to everyone around that person.  However, if you embrace what you are called to do in life, then it can open up a path that’s a game changer.

Forests of the Heart is a novel with a lot of characters and not the best entry point into the Newford series. I will admit it took about a hundred pages before I could get my footing with the story. However, I have read six prior Newford books and some of the recurring characters from those previous books helped get my footing with this novel.

de Lint adds another solid novel in his Newford series and I’m looking forward to reading The Onion Girl, the next one on the docket.


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