Memory and Dream: 03/23/17
Memory and Dream by Charles de Lint is the second of the Newford books. The elevator pitch for this book is that it's sentimental horror.
Some of the book takes place in flashbacks, back in the 1970s when the main characters were up and coming passionate artists, full of potential and untamed talent. The rest takes place in the near present (to the time it was published) — 1992.
As I have said in numerous reviews, I find most flashbacks unnecessary. The case is true here. The flashbacks are here to show the characters, including Kathy, who has since committed suicide, as a flesh and blood, artist. Her death or rather the memory of her life is the big mystery of this book.
A death of a character, even a suicidal one, is usually defined by the tropes of the genre the book is most aligned with. If the Newford books were mysteries, then Kathy's death wouldn't be suicide — even if it looked like it to all the authorities.
Keeping that in mind, the Newford books are urban fantasy, Newford sits on the border with the faerie lands so it goes to figure that magic will be a part of any book in the series. But Newford isn't, thankfully, the Unseelies vs Seelies, which gives the series more wiggle room in each book for a foray into other genres.
Newford, like Joseph C. Lincoln's fictional towns dotting Cape Cod, has a sentimental feel to it. Even when people are being cursed the narration keeps this oddly nostalgic tone.
In this case, the fantasy element comes in the form of artists being so in tune with their skills, and the magic of the nearby forest, that they have managed to bring their portraits to life — including portraits of themselves, as they sat for each other. Were it not for the wistful reminiscence, the book would read like Stephen King's Duma Key.
But over all, the book with its lengthy flashbacks, long descriptions of the paintings, and the diary entries, is frankly too long and too disjointed.