Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Review: The Mystery of Grace

Title: The Mystery of Grace
Author: Charles de Lint
Genre: Fantasy
Published: March 2009

From the inside cover ~

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.

My very first Charles de Lint. What a reading experience this was. For the mind and the senses. Not at all what I was expecting but exactly what I wanted. I truly had a "WTF - Oh No" moment with this story but after I recovered I had to know where de Lint was going and how he was getting there. I didn't read any spoilers before picking up this book and I am thankful for that.

Why did I read Charles de Lint? I blame author Ann Aguirre. :) During her recent blog tour promoting her latest release, Blue Diablo, I read a interview she did on a blog (sorry, don't remember the blog) where Charles de Lint was mentioned and others also agreed as to what a gifted author he was. That got my attention because I'm always curious as to who my favorite authors enjoy reading. So I looked up de Lint and saw that he had a new book coming out. Requested it from the library, it's hardcover, then waited for it to come in.

Once I started reading I was completely sucked into Grace's world. If you are looking for a romance with a traditional HEA ~ you won't find that here. What you will find is a fascinatingly different story with such distinctly written characters that the phrase "leaps off the page" could certainly be applied. The secondary characters and Grace's relationships with them were authentic and well developed. Yes, there is a romance between Grace and John, it's far from traditional but still had me wanting them to somehow be together in the end.

The scenes with Grace and John getting to know each other, learning each others' likes and dislikes, etc. Those scenes generated such strong emotions because I didn't know how they could possibly have anything close to a HEA. John was an easy character to like. He was this mellow, kind hearted gentleman that was attracted to Grace in spite of her different appearance. I got the impression that Grace was not his type and he wasn't a player either, picking up women in bars was not his style. Even though Grace and John had very little in common de Lint made them seem like they were meant to be together. They just clicked.

Grace is not at all what I would call a mainstream heroine. She does have the tats that seems to be popular with the UF heroines but that's about it. She's Hispanic, lives in a lower middle class neighborhood, has a high school education, doesn't have any special powers, i.e. no shape shifting or fangs. :) She does know how to take care of her self and is not the type of woman to depend on anyone. She tries to do the best she can. That's one of the things that I liked about Grace. She's certainly no saint but she does try to do the best she can and treat people with kindness.

This is definitely Grace's story, her journey. It's a journey that neither Grace or I was expecting but sometimes it's good to get the unexpected. For Grace it was the best she could have hoped for given the circumstances. This story is very different from my usual reads but I'm glad I got out of my comfort zone and explored new ideas. The Mystery of Grace is not the type of story for everyone and it's possible I might not have liked it as much had I been in a different reading mood.

One of the odd things about this book is that it's only 269 pages. I find it odd because it felt much longer. Not that it took me a long time to read it but because it felt so complete. Like there was nothing left out of this story that should have been there. It was written as it should have been with the end coming precisely when it should. Would I like to read more about Grace? Find out what happens after "The End"? Yes and no. :)

So, for Charles de Lint fans, lucky you. For me ~ I'm thankful he has a back list that I can dig into and explore. Mr. de Lint and his writings can be found here.

Rating: A


  1. Leslie, I have this book on my TBR pile and have not been able to read it yet -- it would also be my first by this author. I'm looking forward to it, glad you liked it.

  2. I so envy people who get to discover Charles de Lint for the first time. He's one of my favorites, and I'm always happy to see him pick up new fans. Isn't he wonderful?!?

  3. Sounds like a great book :)

    Okay, so they don't get a traditional HEA, but do they get a HEA?

    do you think I would enjoy it?

  4. Hils ~ I hope you enjoy it. :)

    Karen ~ I'm looking forward to reading more from him.

    nath ~ About the HEA - I don't know but I hope so.

    Do I think you would like it? I think you would have to be in the right mood for it. It's very different. It's hard to say more w/o spoilers. If you want to know more just email me. :)

  5. I've been wanting to try Charles de Lint for a long time and I think I will now. Thanks for the review, Leslie.

    Also, I've given you an award.

  6. You're welcome Brie. :) Hope you like it.