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Today, something special for you ^v^ A guest review of Charles deLint's Someplace to be Flying, by [personal profile] charcoalfeathers!

If you're interested in doing guest reviews too, please, let me know, I'm happy to put yours up ^^ I also accept any discussions of books that are on the theme if you want to write an essay about the book, deconstruction, compare two books, etc. I would like this to be not just book reviews, but a place where winged people and people with dreams of flight can discuss and explore fiction... so... if you have anything on topic... I'm happy to include it.



Short review: The corbae (corvid animal-people) and canids (canine animal-people) are playing out their ages-old disagreements once again, and this time the cauldron of creation is in the middle of it. In spite of some shortcomings, this is a satisfying read with a lot of really neat thoughts and stories about animal people and mythology.

Writing: I enjoyed his short stories first, and only moved on to his full length novels later; and it always feels a little to me like his novels are reaaallly drawn out short stories. In some ways, it's nice that it doesn't end so quickly. But other times, I get lost in all the plots going on. Perhaps that's just my lack of attention span these days. ^^; It's also neat to watch all the plot threads coming together over time for a finale.

But in general, his writing style is good and sort of blends to the background. Except for the "story teller" parts: these are fantastic, exceptional. You really feel like you're listening to someone telling a story around a campfire.

From a winged person's perspective...: This book is more of a fae/therian type of book than one about winged people per se, but I think there's something in here for everyone. deLint is always heavy on mythology, especially Native American mythology, and this book is no exception. Rather than birds, or winged people, the characters in this story are almost like fae with animal associations; most of them can shift between an animal form and a human form, and they have a lot of traits like their animals when they're in the latter.

So you could safely say that this book will appeal to corvid and canine therians quite a lot in that way. I think it would be hard for a winged person not to enjoy that aspect of it, too.

Though anyone who associates with cuckoo birds might come away a bit upset. ^^;

Trigger warnings: The main one that struck me was about crows dying and their bodies being mistreated. Someone who wants to be winged is abused. There's a decent amount of violence. Lots of talk about what it means to be sane or crazy, and some fairly intense descriptions of someone being institutionalized. Basically this is a really adult book: if you're worried about triggering something, tread lightly.

More thoughts...: This is a pretty standard deLint-fare "mythic stuff meets urban America" story. Somehow though, these stories never get old when he writes them. :)

On the surface, it's a fascinating fantasy adventure story about a group of bird-people and wolf/fox/coyote-people in a disagreement, nearly destroying the world in the process.

Metaphorically, it has some of that typical sort of disappointing take on magic that goes like this: magic is there, but if you reach for it, it will probably bite you; leave it to the "experts". You get a sense that the inexperienced people in the story get away with what they get away with mostly out of luck. Some of it is the more experienced magic people being surprised because they forgot how it works. That it's about wonder. So it's not all bad. But at the end of the day, everything goes back the way it was for the most part. Many of the main characters even forget about the whole plot.

Anyone who's a fan of Native American mythology is going to find some fun in this book. I can't really speak for its accuracy, but Coyote makes a prominent appearance as well as some others. deLint's now-ubiquitous Crow Girls are major characters (and more awesome than ever).

The sane/insane discussion centers around someone who might be considered multiple. I don't want to spoil that part of the book either, but it's a bit of a mixed bag.

One thing I'm not so fond of, in deLint's recent writing, is a tendency more and more toward "bloodline magic". I don't want to spoil the whole book here, but I'll say that there's a major piece of the climax of the book that simply can't be participated in unless the characters have "a drop of animal people blood in them". And of course by that point in the book, practically every character is shown to have some, to keep them involved. It feels kind of phony to me, but I'm a very egalitarian kind of person; I feel that magic is as magic does, and doesn't limit itself to people with special blood. If George Lucas' "midichlorians" upset you, then expect to be upset by that too.
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