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Yarrow (1997)

Yarrow (1997)

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3.88 of 5 Votes: 1
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0312863934 (ISBN13: 9780312863937)
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About book Yarrow (1997)

Yet another book I haven't read in probably twenty years, Yarrow is the story of Cat Midhir, a fantasy novelist who, unbeknownst to everyone else, is dependent on her dreams for her writing. Every night she has found herself in another world, where she sits at the feet of the tall fae bard Kothlen as he spins tales, which she on waking weaves into her books. Every night of her life since she was very young she has had what for lack of better language she calls dreams - every night until three months ago, when she stopped dreaming at all, and because of that stopped writing. We the reader know what she cannot: there's an ancient creature called Lysistratus who feeds off dreams, off soul, and who finds her a rich source of sustenance. Quick question: why on earth call a soul/dream vampire "Lysistratus"?? There was a real Lysistratus in the 4th century who was a highly skilled sculptor (a creator), and there was the fictional Lysistrata, the Athenian heroine of Aristophanes's comedy about the women on both sides of a war deciding to withhold sex until peace could be achieved. Not, either of them, anything remotely appropriate for this character, which is unusual, especially if my assumption is right, that he took the name for himself. This was probably one of the first de Lint books I read, which helped lead to my reading more, which is by and large a good thing ... but if this was my first time reading it I'm not at all sure I'd pursue the author. It's not bad, at all; it's well-written, characters are well done, there's a good story, the setting (especially the Otherworld) is very good... I just didn't like it. I will, of course, being me, explain. First off, the main character. Cat Midhir is, we are told early in the book, sick unto death of explaining to everyone in the universe and his sister how her name is pronounced. Cat, honey? I have to spell both my names to everyone in the universe, because both names have multiple variations. You should have taken a self-explanatory pseudonym if it's going to get to you this much, and you didn't, and it's an odd name so it will keep happening, so suck it up. And that's the thin end of the wedge, cracking open her character for the reader: there's not much there, there. She is a talented writer, but socially inept and alone (what ever happened to her parents? It's not a good thing that I can't remember if we're told). Now that her dreams have abandoned her, she can't write a single decent sentence, and I'm afraid I can't muster up a single spark of sympathy for her. I have delusions of authorship. I've had a couple of wild dreams that might someday, with a lot of work, become something readable. I have not ever had the ridiculous advantage of being able to sit at the feet of a bard, soak in his stories, and then write them down. We are assured that she took the stories deeper than Kothlen did, expanding, fleshing out the places he skimmed over and using her own gift of expression to turn them into best-selling novels... but we are also told several times that every word she tries to write without the umbilical cord of the Otherworld is "lifeless". I'll buy that she's not merely transcribing but actually writing - but how am I supposed to feel anything but mild contempt for a woman who has basically sponged off others for her livelihood? A woman who has never had to sit in front of a blank sheet of paper and search for what comes next in the story? Given a rich source like Kothlen, I'd be a best-seller too. If anything, her "writer's block" gives me a self-righteous and slightly perverse delight. Again, suck it up, honey, and sink or swim on your own damn merits. Wet dishrag, her. The other characters, as I said, are well done: Peter, the bookstore owner who has tentatively befriended her over the years and who becomes a true friend now; Ben, the cab-driver who has had a minor obsession with her since he read her first book (though I kept thinking he was an old man for some reason); Mick, the mohawked punk-rocker with a heart, apparently, of gold; Rick, whose name is well chosen as the only word I can think of to describe him ends in "ick"... The Otherworld characters are not as strong, but sketched in well enough to serve, if not as clearly as I would like. Some of the many red shirts in the story were given more time and delineation than the major characters of the Otherworld, and I resented being asked to get to know and like them (which I didn't, always) in the pages before they were hideously murdered. That was actually a problem with the beginning of the book, as well: a large number of characters were introduced, one after the other, and it was fairly clear which ones weren't going to be around long. After that it was just a matter of Lysistratus picking them off at will. My main issue with characterization shouldn't be a big one, but is: their language. As in profanity. It's constant, and every non-fae male character, antagonist or pro-, cusses like a sailor. And it's not just nice pungent anglo-saxon words, but it's those anglo-saxon words with "jesus" (no caps) in front, which ... Come on. I'm not a prude when it comes to strong language - anyone who thinks so has not driven with me on the highway - but this was just too much. On every page, every circumstance from minor annoyance to lives being threatened prompts the same response. It gets old. Also, I was reminded frequently that de Lint has a horror background under another name. There were strong horror elements throughout - Lysistratus is evil, and does evil for evil's sake, and it's no fun to read. And that's something of a problem. As with profanity, some is fine, even good in context. More is not better. If I want to read horror, I will read horror. I don't want to read horror. I don't appreciate a constant barrage of blood-soaked scenes packaged as a fantasy - particularly with my edition's cover - except for the skull in the foreground, it leads a prospective reader to believe the concentration is on the fae, not the evil. I'm uneasy with the idea that L stole people's souls, too, but that's my own issue. Or, to be more timely, hang-up. Which leads me to - - A last issue, sometimes fairly easily overlooked but still a distraction, was that the book did not age well: it is very, very dated. Very. This was startling at times (there was a comment about the awareness of Reagan in office, south of the border and apparently intent on starting a war, which was for me an unexpected and unusual Canadian political commentary), and almost funny at times (how many times would a cell phone have made all the difference? And - a turntable! Aw!), but frequently it was just ... odd. The name-checking was annoying - there was a great detail of corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude ... who was on the turntable, what books Peter was ordering, what books everyone was reading (everyone) (seriously) - it felt grafted on to prove de Lint was "hip". Oddest, though, and unintentionally hilarious, was Lysistratus humming the Human League song "Don't You Want Me". The radio station I leave on at work plays this now and then, and I get the joke. It's just not funny. He could have been an amazing Big Bad. He wasn't. He was the well-dressed "Dude" (*sigh*) with the piercing blue eyes who you really want to avoid, and particularly to avoid having sex with. Who has terrible taste in music. That detracts from his fearsomeness (along with being called "the Dude"), and I think it would have even in the 80's. ***minor spoilers*** The ending felt a little rushed. I still don't think Cat did enough, and what she did was undermined and cleaned up to pave the way for a happily-ever-after, with some major questions left unanswered ((view spoiler)[Is the whole Otherworld, or is it not, part of her? And how in hell is she the deer woman whose name escapes me? And why? And when?? (hide spoiler)]

Yarrow was my first foray in to the world of Charles de Lint, and it certainly won't be my last. What an amazing mind he has. When I first began reading, numerous characters were introduced, all going about daily things. A page for this one, a page for that one. I wondered who they all were and what their relevance was to the main plot. As I read, I was drawn into each of these people and found myslef amazed how they intertwined together. Some had small roles, and others larger, but what I loved was even though you didn't really NEED to know the little tid bits of information about this or that character, the fact that the author did give it in the simplest way made those characters stand out and become three dimensional.This isn't normally the type of book I enjoy reading. I'm not a big fan of creepy, but I have to say that I did not want to put this book down until I finished the last page. The fantasy element in it was rather subtle, yet profound. I almost immediately found myself connecting with the main protagonist, Cat. She's withdrawn, shy and a writer. When she sleeps she dreams of an Otherworld, with strange creatures. A place that is just as real as the wolrd she lives in in her waking life. But something terrible happens. She stops dreaming of her Otherworld. Something is hunting her. Something evil. Eventually Cat begins to doubt her sanity and if this Otherworld isn't really just her imagination.It's this evil that is hunting Cat that brings all the characters together in one way or another. I loved the execution of this tale. The vileness of the villain made this one creepy story and gave me the heebie geebies. But what really made this book for me was the relationship that formed slowly between Cat and Ben and the sense of a happily ever after for them.I have a huge back list of Charles de Lint to get through, but I am looking forward to reading many, many more of his books.

Do You like book Yarrow (1997)?

This was quite a good novel. If you're looking for modern fantasy, you may as well skip this - Yarrow is more like semi-mystery/semi-thriller with elements of fantasy. There's very little the reader gets to learn about the Otherworld and, while that doesn't detract from the nice flow and engaging storyline, it's enough to disqualify the book from the urban fantasy genre. I'm very picky these days, but Yarrow managed to pull me in and keep me absorbed almost the entire way through. There are a fe

I read Yarrow long ago so it was almost like reading it new; as ever, Charles de Lint weaves a rich, complex fantasy with people who seem real, in circumstances that are not quite possible, but so easily believable. It is 1981, or thereabouts, somewhere in Canada. So much has changed since 1981 that it is almost at the point of being historical fiction, our main character writes fantasy novels but her inspiration comes from her dreams and she can no longer dream. She writes them on a typewriter and as I read I realised that recent generations will have no point of reference for using a typewriter to write, no emotive response to all the pieces of paper that are torn out of the typewriter and lie strewn about as she tries to beat her writers block.Her dreams are being drained out of her by a very old creature that lives, vampirically, off the dreams of people. One nigh, sitting at a window she spies him, thinks he is a prowler and is jolted out of her very isolated life to involve others in her plight. Incidentally, when she spies the prowler she is scared and thinks of ringing the police, but the phone is downstairs and she is afraid to go down there in case he breaks in. Hands up anyone who remembers when landlines were the only phones available, in one location in the house...?A lovely, satisfying story that I will be happy to revisit. It was totally worth the sleep I missed by staying up all night to read it.
—Deborah Ideiosepius

Not nearly as good as his later novels, but the story was entertaining. I only had three complaints:1. Too many characters, some playing such minor roles the story would have been better off without them. The detectives are a prime example.2. The main character was so helpless and whining. "Whaaaa... I'm lonely... I have writer's block... I'm crazy... I'm not crazy but my life is meaningless... I'm still lonely... I still have writer's block... I miss my dream pals..."3. Perhaps this was specific to the ebook version, but there were way too many scene breaks with no indicators. One paragraph you're reading about Cat, the next Ben in his cab, a few paragraphs later we're with Peter in the bookstore. Something to indicate a scene break would be very welcome; caps or bold on the first few words of a new scene, the good old centered triple asterisks, something.

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