Book 42: Spirits In The Wires

Book Title: Spirits In The Wires
Author: Charles de Lint
Published: 2003
Pages: 448
Category: fiction: fantasy, fiction: urban fantasy

If you haven’t yet read a book by Charles de Lint, you should do so immediately. His books are brilliant mixes of urban life, life on the fringe, and his rich and wide variety of characters are woven seemlessly into a world rife with myth and fairytales.
De Lint looks at the tales of faeries, creatures of the old world, and native american legends and creates a city – Newford – in which old meets new, and mystical creatures live alongside every day urban life.

What I particularly love about Spirits in the Wires is his idea that when humans took over the lands of faerie, the fey moved into our new frontiers, in this case, technology and the internet.

“For these aren’t new spirits – at least not from what I can tell. They’re the same magical beings of the woods and fields and waters wild that first made a journey from their rural origins to more urban settings, and have now moved into the technologies of the future. They’ll probably follow us into space.” (100)

I’ve always found certain cities to be magical. Whenever I was in London, England I could feel the energy and possibility pulsing through the streets I was walking on, and sense the power that the city held. There is something about the energy and mystery of so many lives being lived so close to each other. With the anonymity and also the community. Cities hold power. It’s a different power than the power of the forests or the fields, but it is power nonetheless.

Charles de Lint does wonderful things with these thoughts. He creates a world that I find to be so utterly believable. I’ve always held onto the tales and myths of faeries that I read in fantasy books as a child, and de Lint’s Urban Fantasies feel like a grown up version of these stories. Somehow taking the childlike wonder of faeries in the forest, with the grown up reality of working and living in a city.

Spirits in the Wires is a story told through the eyes and experiences of several different characters, and one of the things I’ve always admired about de Lint is how he weaves his characters together. He has a series of books based in Newford, along the lives of a set of characters. It doesn’t act like a traditional book series though – I’ve never read them in any sort of ‘correct’ order. You can jump from book to book, and catch glimpses of the lives of characters through the stories of others. The world he has created is nuanced and interconnected, and I love it.

What I found particularly great about this novel, is the extent to which de Lint sees the Internet as a place of mystery and power. The role that technology plays in modern life, and the lengths the spirits will go to ensure they are not left behind by the marching forward of human society.

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