by Charles de Lint
Just for fun I read another book connected to The Cats of Tanglewood Forest– this one tells another adventure set decades later. Lillian of the first book is now an old lady. A family of girls lives down the hill- seven red-haired sisters. They all have their own interests and personalities of course, which comes into play significantly in the story. One girl meets Lilian, goes off collecting ginseng root in the forests, and rescues a \’sangman (personification of the spirit of the ginseng I guess) who had been injured. Her good deed is seen as an unwanted intrusion into an ancient quarrel between two groups of fairies- the woodsy root-like \’sangmen and the bee fairies. As one sister gets drawn into the strife, others do also- several sets of twins are taken hostage by either side, there are bargains and fiddling contests (that fail) and strange magical characters and differing codes of honor and fair play among the fairies. Lots of familiar themes with a new turn. I did like that.
But it wasn\’t quite enjoyable. Too many sisters to keep track of, not enough depth or story for my liking. I wanted more of the cat-man L\’il Pater! There were hints of other stories untold- some secret history between Lilian and the Apple Tree Man that I don\’t recall at all from Cats of Tanglewood Forest, and suggestions of another story that might someday follow this one. I don\’t know if I\’ll ever feel motivated to pick it up, though.
It was curious to see some similar themes to another very different book I just read, A Girl of the Limberlost. Here we also had a woman protecting acres and acres of land, refusing to fell the trees for profit, handing ownership to a younger woman with an injunction to keep it whole… People living close to the land, using their own resources. I kind of wished for more of that stuff and less of the fairies, but then it wouldn\’t have been the same story at all!
Rating: 2/5 260 pages, 2014