Plenty of those who currently make a living out of writing in the booming field of urban fantasy lit. It's gotten pretty crowded, and the narratives now tend to reek with odious familiarity. After all, how many original twists can one put on the vampire/werewolf/zombie detective? But folks like Nina Kiriki Hoffman and Charles De Lint continue to tower above their contemporaries. They keep on producing prose that is evocative and lyrical and, yes, addictive. I just finished reading De Lint's short story, "Dog Boys," and I loved it, really loved it. Left me wanting more.
It doesn't take place in De Lint's popular Newford setting, although it wouldn't take but two shakes for De Lint to draw "Dog Boys" into the Newford mythos. We're introduced to Brandon, a teen who'd just moved from Atlanta to the Southwestern desert town of Santo del Vado Viejo. It's a community populated predominantly by Indians and Mexicans, and so it's even more of a cultural adjustment for a white kid like Brandon. Santo del Vado Viejo is infested with gangbangers, and so Brandon keeps his head down as he acclimates to his new home and high school.
And yet, in Rose Creek High, Brandon can't help but step in when a Native American student is bullied by a member of the 66 Bandas, perhaps the city's most ruthless Latino gang. "Dog Boys," gripping and briskly paced, chronicles what happens when a boy follows his conscience and then has to deal with the dire consequences. I would love it if there were an expanded version of this short story. I am clamoring for a sequel. Brandon and his new friends are people I would dearly love to run into again. Charles De Lint is a born storyteller; it's always a pleasure to read his yarns, and "Dog Boys" is no exception to this. His distinctive style is on full display. As ever, he seamlessly marries the ordinary with a touch of American folklore and contemporary magical realism. "Dog Boys" unfolds and satisfies in unexpected ways, except that with a Charles De Lint story, you come to expect these things.