It’s uncomfortable and a little odd to admit that this collection of short stories mostly made me think I wouldn’t de Lint very much. Though the stories are fiction, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was a smarmy liberal white guy persuading me of his sensitivity, his hipness. That he considers himself an appealing blend of Peter-Pannish proponent of imagination, and storyteller with his finger on the pulse of gritty urbanity. Perceiver of what others miss. Not a bad person, just one I wouldn’t get along with.
Several main characters are young, underprivileged women: a Chicana teenager who wedges Spanglish awkwardly into her narrative, a young artist who grew up orphaned and now cares for others. It’s like de Lint built characters from tropes and his beliefs about what such people might think or feel, rather than starting from each character as a person. But it feels like he’s co-opting voices that aren’t his own.
The stories themselves are okay. Most stress how belief makes magic real. His city combines ordinary urban dangers with magical dangers; threads through regular human happinesses with magical wonders. Folks dally with the fae and are forever changed. Dreams Underfoot would be best acquired at the library during a quiet summer, read overnight, and exchanged the next day.
The 214 in 2014 series chronicles every book I read in 2014. Each review contains exactly 214 words, because 2014 words is too long and 2014 characters is too dang short.