Monday, January 23, 2012
Book Rec: The Wood Wife (Terri Windling)
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.