Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review - The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint (3/5 stars)

I have read a ton of Charles de Lint books and really loved his Newford books.  I was eager to read one of his more recent novels.  This book is okay but lacks a lot of the magic of his Newford books and is pretty slow at certain parts.  I listened to this on audio book and the audio book was very well done.

Grace is a very tattooed gearhead that enjoys working on cars with her grandfather.  When her grandfather dies she recedes some from her friends and by some strange fate ends up getting shot in the local grocery store.  After getting shot she wakes up in her apartment where an old woman is standing over her letting her know she's dead.  Grace is in a kind of in between place where the people who die in a six block area surrounding her apartment find themselves, kind of a limbo.  They can return to the "real world" twice year.  While back in the real world Grace meets someone special, and while yearning to see him again she struggles to solve the mystery of why the souls are trapped in this limbo.

Grace and all of the other characters introduced are likable and believable.  They are all kind characters, except for the obvious "bad guy", and all strive to make the most out of their lives in limbo.  The idea of having a location have this kind of limbo-world for souls is interesting and creative and de Lint ties it to a lot of mexican/native american mythology.

My biggest problem with this book is the pacing.  It takes too long for Grace to get to limbo and once she is there it takes too long before she actually does something.  I understand de Lint was trying to give us a sense of boredom that Grace experienced and convey the passage of time, I just wish he would have done it in a way that didn't bore me as a reader.

SPOILER ALERT (although I tried to make it as non-spoiler as I could)
Also there are some things that happen in the plot that seem to happen for basically no reason.  For example John, the guy Grace meets has some premonition about not seeing her again.  After that he is pretty much cut out of the story.  I mean Grace doesn't even mention him a ton after that, which is odd considering her attachment to him.  Then when her friend in limbo mentions that a Juan (John) is needed to break the evil spirit you expect John to play into it somehow...only he doesn't.  After a while I began to wonder why John's story was even included.  Really besides the catalyst it provides to make Grace gain thecourage to fight the evil spirit, he doesn't ultimately play that big of a part in the story.

At the end of the book you kind of feel let down.  There is all this build up and then not much ever happens.  The main storyline is resolved, but not in a way that surprises or in a way that is ironic.

Overall, a creative idea but definitely not the most magical of De Lint's works.  The pacing is poor and some parts are just plain boring.  If you are interested in reading de Lint and are a newcomer to his works I would recommend Moonheart and Spiritwalk (or basically any other book of his) over this book.

This book goes to the following reading challenges:
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
- Summer Romance Reading Challenge
The Mystery of Grace 

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