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Memory & Dream    by Charles de Lint order for
Memory & Dream
by Charles de Lint
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2007 (1994)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Charles de Lint takes us back to the fictional - and magical - Canadian town of Newford in this reissue of one of his best urban fantasies. Memory & Dream moves back and forth in time, in the life of the very talented painter, Isabelle Copley, showing her relationships with close friends (writer Kathy Mully and editor Alan Grant) and the malign influence of troll-like, overbearing master painter Rushkin, who teaches her and uses her.

Izzy and the seemingly upbeat Kathy once roomed together, living happily through the 70s in a tightly knit bohemian community of artists, including the always delightful Jilly who appears in several of de Lint's Newford works. We learn early that Kathy - who used her novels' earnings to create a center for underprivileged children - died young (Izzy tells us of her suffering with cancer) and that Isabelle and Alan became estranged after an argument at the funeral. That puzzle drives the story forward, as readers watch (the past) Izzy drifting deeper and deeper into Rushkin's dark shadow.

The legendary artist alternates between manipulative charm and violence. What he teaches Izzy is invaluable, but at what cost? He shows her how to paint otherworldly people, to call up spirits from legend and myth, who then appear in Newford. They don't bleed, age, dream or need sustenance, and they disappear (die?) if their original painting is destroyed. Izzy calls them numena and guards the paintings closely. But someone is hunting them. She struggles with her responsibility for their lives, while falling deeply for one of them, John Sweetgrass John warns her against Rushkin and vice versa.

In Memory & Dream, de Lint paints a vibrant portrait of the power of art to create reality and the power of the human mind to alter it. Along the way, he shows the iron strength of friendship and writes fascinating dialogs on the nature and purpose of art, as in Kathy's 'I don't care what form one's art takes, it has to be an attempt to leave the world a better place than it was before we got here or it's not doing its job.' This urban fantasy has a lot to offer on many levels. If you missed the original release of Memory & Dream, don't miss it now!

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