Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Rec: The Wood Wife (Terri Windling)

This week's recommendation is for one of my all-time favorite urban fantasy novels: Terri Windling's The Wood Wife.  These days when you say urban fantasy people think of ass-kicking tattooed chicks and  noir detectives, but The Wood Wife is old-school urban fantasy: a beautifully written, mythic novel in the vein of Charles De Lint and Emma Bull.  It's set in Tucson, and Windling does a superb job of bringing the Sonoran Desert to life, to the point the landscape is as much a character as the people in the novel.  She uses southwestern myths to wonderful effect; her nonhuman characters feel both wholly real and convincingly alien, giving the story a lovely sense of awe and mystery.  The human characters are great, too - flawed, passionate, and interesting; the sort of people you'd love to meet in real life.

Windling is far better known for her work as an editor, particularly of short stories (I'm not much of a short story reader, but even I used to devour the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies that Windling edited with Ellen Datlow).  But since first reading The Wood Wife, I feel it's almost a crime she hasn't written more novels.  (Okay, okay, I wouldn't force anyone to write, but still...The Wood Wife is so good, I can't help but want more.)  As it is, I cling to my copy, and re-read it at least once a year.  I highly recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary fantasy - and especially, to anyone weary of the current emphasis on paranormal romance in urban fantasy.

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