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VINE VOICEon 24 March 2009
how he does it, but once again, charles de lint has written a corking urban fantasy. Altagracia, orphan, hotrod mechanic and Latina meets the man of her dreams at a Halloween party. There's just one problem... she's dead, victim of a bungled store robbery. de Lint weaves a stunning tale of a person stuck in another existance and her attempts to be with the man she loves. The plot unfolds effortlessly, the characters are strong and beautifully written, without any mawkishness, and the reader is drawn in almost without trying. I finished the book in one sitting, I was so engrossed. If I hadn't been a huge fan before, then I would be now! Great stuff!
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on 4 August 2009
Another great book by the master of urban phantasy. A brilliant idea which is developed convincingly into a compelling read.Life and death is no barrier for two people to meet beyond the frame and over the edge when the veil between their worlds withdraws. Such wonderful characters and a sense of community and comradeship from the margins of society. A beautiful design to the dustjacket: fans of John Jude Palencar will be pleased to know. Will this develop into a Newford style series of stories? Yes, please. Oh yes, you don't have to be into cars and hotrods to love this but its an education all the same. Don't wait for the paperbook, treat yourself.
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on 25 August 2012
At first I thought this was going to be predictable. Grace meets John in the first chapter, but disappears after they've made love. The next section tells her story - right up to the point of her death in a botched robbery. Then we find she's in a curious afterlife, but can return to our world only twice a year. You can see right away where this is going, no? A set up for a thwarted romance between John and Grace, who can meet only twice a year...

Except it really didn't go in any of the directions I expected. Instead, the puzzle became intriguing, and I realised that I had discovered a new author I really liked - this is the first de Lint book I've read, and I didn't know there were so many more out there! Shades of Jonathan Carroll here, and there's no higher praise than that for me.

My one tiny beef is that the characters, who are supposed to be in their mid-thirties, do sound curiously young in the dialogue, which is, like, totally teenage... There are quite a few Young Adult books by this author and this may be the reason for the occasionally unconvincing dialogue. But this is really being picky, as I really liked this!
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VINE VOICEon 8 August 2011
From the author's web site:
"Altagracia -- her friends call her Grace -- has a tattoo of Nuestra Señora de Altagracia on her shoulder; she's got a Ford Motor Company tattoo running down her leg; and she has grease worked so deep into her hands that'll never wash out.

Grace works at Sanchez Motor Works, customizing hot rods. A few blocks around her small apartment building is all her world -- from the grocery store where she buys beans, tamales and cigarettes to the library, the little record shop, and the Solona Music Hall. Which is where she meets John Burns, just two weeks too late.

Grace and John fall for one another, and that would be wonderful, except that they're both haunted by unfinished business. Before their relationship can be resolved, they're both going to have to learn things they don't know about the world of the living and the world beyond. About why it's necessary to let some things go."

This review is for the audible version, so how this book reads I can't say! First things first - this is brilliantly read, especially by Tai Sammons, who, to be fair, reads the lion's share, but her accents, and her voicing of the various characters is great. Don't get me wrong, the male narrator does an ok job, but he's reading a lot of women, and doesn't do so well.
The book starts with alternate chapters, which are quite long from a listening perspective, from either Grace or John, ending with all Grace, and underneath the love story, underneath the mystery of Grace, and Conchita, and Henry, and all the others, lies a moral tale about coping with grief and loss, about learning who we are, about moving on, and on the importance of friends.
I spent the first third or so wondering how de Lint was going to resolve the love story, reckoning I had it sussed. I was wrong, oh so very wrong, and I spent the final third wondering how this could end, and again, thought I saw how things might go, and was again wrong!
This builds both a credible love affair, and a very credible friendship, despite the whole thing hinging on a fairly incredible premise.
I loved the ending, loved the resolution of some issues and the fact that by the end, it didn't matter that other issues hadn't been sorted...
Why not 5 stars? Well, there are some longish internal monologues that I found I wanted over - if I'd been reading I'd have skipped a few pages!
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