"Katherine Mully had been dead for five years and two months, the morning Isabelle received the letter from her." Now that's a great way to start a novel!! Isabelle Copely and Katherine Mully were college roommates. Not just roommates, but best friends and kindred spirits. Izzy was an art major and Kathy was a writer. They lived in a Bohemian style section of Newford, where the arts are celebrated and life was good. Until Izzy met Vincent Rushkin, one of the greatest artists to ever hail from Newford. His work was celebrated, although the artist himself was somewhat of a recluse. But when he met Izzy, he offered up his expertise and took her on as a protege.
Although a brilliant artist, Rushkin was prone to fits of rage.....mostly taken out on Izzy. He was always critical of her. Never accepting anything that he deemed unworthy. One minute he would be incredibly sweet, and then out of nowhere, he would completely lose control and become violent. But from her perspective, the pros definitely outweighed the cons because Ruskin's instruction was enhancing her art to new levels.
But when Ruskin tells Izzy the secret about her art, things change. One of the things that Ruskin had seen in Izzy was her ability to become a "maker". If Izzy put her spirit into her paintings, she could bring the subject to life. Her paintings were the gateway from "the other".....the spirits that she would paint could physically manifest themselves into the real world.
""And it's just people that come across?" Izzy asked.
"Beings," Ruskin said. "Yes. However, they won't necessarily seem like people. They have the same source as legend and myth, Isabelle. When the ancients first made their paintings and sculptures of marvelous beings -- dryads and satyrs, angels and dragons -- they were not rendering things they had seen. Rather they were bringing them into being. Not all of them, of course. Only those with the gift.""
And Izzy DID bring across some beings. Only Kathy knew the secret of Izzy's work. As a writer, she understood the concept. But when things fell apart, Izzy exiled herself to her family's home on Wren Island. Kathy's death a few years later caused even more division between Izzy and her old friends and lifestyle. But when Alan, an old friend from the past, wants Izzy to illustrate a new book containing some of Kathy's unpublished work, the past and the present come together in a way that no one could have predicted.
This story moves flawlessly between the past and the present. Each section gives just enough information to keep the reader constantly wanting to know more. Izzy's ability as a maker has changed her in so many ways, leaving her responsible for the lives her numena, the name she has given to the spirits she brings across. They are frightened of Rushkin, the "dark man". A man they consider a monster, who feeds on them to sustain his own life. But Izzy can't seem to reconcile her feelings towards him, and certainly doesn't think he is a monster.
This book is about memories that aren't always real, but dreams that can be. It's about magic and art, and the intertwining of the two. And it's about love and friendship....two things a person should never be without. Charles de Lint is a genius at opening a world in which all things are possible. His writings flows from page to page with ease. And from page one, I was completely under his spell. De Lint is a master storyteller in every sense of the word. His characters are incredibly deep and well-written. Each one is flawed just enough to seem completely real.
But what I loved most about this book was the idea that magic can really exist in the world today. When real life seems to be bogged down with so many problems and concerns, all you have to do is open a book by de Lint to see that magic really exists. If not in our heads, but in our hearts. I recommend this book 100 percent. It is beautifully written and it's a little piece of magic all by itself.