Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Little Country

I've always been fond of books about tiny people; The Borrowers or The Littles series were favourites as a child. Charles DeLint's fantasy novel The Little Country has partly to do with such creatures - he calls them Smalls. This novel is really two parallel novels, with both stories progressing side by side until they merge at the end. It begins with Janey Little, who lives in Cornwall with her grandfather, discovering a magic book in a trunk in the attic. She proceeds to read it - that's the second story - alternating chapters until you can see how they reflect each other. This book is full of magic and legend, is heavily dependent on folk music, and is also flavoured with esoteric conspiracy. All of the chapter titles are names of traditional tunes, except for a couple of recent compositions. (Charles DeLint and his wife are both folk musicians, who I was once able to watch do a reading; he read from his newest, and then they performed for a while. Amazing.)
I enjoyed this read, and it was a quick one, lots of action to keep you moving forward. There were a couple of false notes for me; the fantastical world within the magic book has a feel of a classic children's story(witches, magic, Smalls), but in the next chapter, in Janey Little's world, there suddenly appears sex, drugs and murder. A bit startling. I got a bit muddled with circular logic near the end; the magic in the book means each reader reads a unique story, which works until Janey's "story" seems to become an alternate reality in the last few pages. Is she reading the story or is it reading her? Enter the funhouse. A small quibble though; overall it was a wonderfully creative entertainment. I've always felt I should be reading more of Charles DeLint, a talented and well respected Canadian fantasy writer who I certainly know a lot about, though I don't know enough of his work first hand. This was a good one to pick up - and, it has music notation for some of his tunes in the back! Who can resist?


  1. Lovely review -- I,too, loved the Borrowers when I was little. (Still do!) De Lint is one of my favorite authors because he *almost* always gets the balance between reality and fantasy right.

  2. I loved this book. It's the only one by deLint that I've read, but I have another on my chunkster challenge list.

    I don't usually read a book more than once, but I hung on to this one because I would like to read it again.


Thanks for stopping by ~ I always enjoy hearing your comments so please feel free to leave some!