Waifs and Strays
Charles de Lint
Viking, 2002 (2002)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
aifs and Strays
is a collection of sixteen de Lint stories about teenagers dealing with tough issues, and also a panoramic picture of his work over time, ranging from tales set in Tamson House to those located in Bordertown and in Newford. The author's background notes on each of them are interesting in themselves both for fans and for newcomers to his
've always loved stories set in the rambling, ever surprising Tamson House, and
Merlin Dreams in the Mondream Wood
is typical of their gentle magic. Then the first tale of Appoline (Apples) and her asthmatic sister Cassie is a fun
take-off, but the second one takes on more serious issues around the decision to become a vampire. The consequences of catching a fairy in a bug jar are addressed in
; a troubled teen gets some excellent advice and
from a fiddling rabbit; and
A Wish Named Arnold
is an utterly delightful story about a gloomy kind of genie acquired through the purchase of a brass egg in an antique shop.
any of the author's protagonists are outcasts, and one of the most touching is orphaned Tetchie, born of a human mother and
(similar to troll) father. In
The Graceless Child
she unleashes nightmares by trusting a stranger, and later makes a sacrifice to save the same community that has reviled her.
A Tattoo on Her Heart
is a rare (for the author) futuristic tale of how society's outcasts keep their humanity. Then there are two
(between the elvish and human worlds) stories, the first of which,
, has a bit of a Wild West flavor, enlivened by music. In the other, a lonely girl connects to a lonely gargoyle.
inally we end up in Newford, where those who can see, find magic all around them. The first two are about Susanna, whose differences give her strength. There are two tales (including the title story
Waifs and Strays
) of Maisie, who '
broke the only pair of rose-colored glasses I had the chance to own a long time ago
', and her odd, adopted family of stray dogs and child-man Tommy. There's
Ghost of Wind and Shadow
about a girl who runs away from a mother who can't cope with the magic in her genes, and
Somewhere in My Mind There Is a Painting Box
shows us the proximity of art and magic.
lthough these stories are about teens, they will be appreciated by fans of all ages. I especially enjoyed revisiting Tamson House and meeting old friends again in all Charles de Lint's magical worlds.
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