I was totally into Charles de Lint novels about 20 years ago and read 3 in succession...Yarrow, Greenmantle and Moonheart and I loved them, so when I saw a review of one of his novels last year I added him to my personal challenge list to read another. The wonderful cover illustration and story description attracted me to this particular one.
Grace is a car mechanic, covered in tattoos and specialising in hot rods and customising Fords. She loves her cars and rockabilly music.
Grace meets John, a lonely graphic designer still haunted by his brothers death when they were children, at a Halloween party and they instantly fall for each other. The problem is that Grace was killed in a botched store robbery 2 weeks earlier and is allowed to go back to her life only twice a year. One of those nights is Halloween. As the sun comes up, Grace disappears from the bathroom and John is left wondering who she is and where she went. Exploring theories about spirituality, the hereafter and love, we are taken on a journey with Grace and John as they both try to work out what has happened.
I was excited about this book as soon as it arrived because I loved the cover, the book felt nice in the hand, and I like stories that bend reality. It was very easy to read and I got into it very quickly. The chapters swap between the points of view of Grace and John, but the book is dominated by Grace who proves to be a pretty captivating protagonist. I loved the whole adventure into the afterlife and found the details inventive and interesting. I was rooting for the couple throughout the story and loved the swapped points of view. I found the end quite moving too.
I did find the reason for the existence of the in-between state of the after world, that Grace and the other characters find themselves, unconvincing, as well as its conclusion. However I was enjoying the rest of it enough for it not to cause a problem. I also found the sudden shift in direction in the last part of the novel a little bewildering because up to that point Grace and John's relationship had been the main driving force in the book. I did take away a lot of interesting parts of the story with me however, and found the love story really beautifully written.
I am glad that I have revisited this author from my past and I will most probably read more. It was a gentle, heart felt and original novel and I am sure that many readers will find a lot to discuss within its pages.
Fantasy Literature has a list of all Charles de Lint Novels on their site.