This story is about a bargain that Coyote Woman made with Jim Changing Dog and Alice Corn Hair – Coyote Woman gave them both the ability to change their shapes and become human, but if they didn’t both find a soulmate (someone who loves them unconditionally) within 100 years the gift would be taken away. A few shy weeks before the end of the bargain, Alice was happily settled, but Jim still hadn’t found the woman that made him want to commit. That is, until he met Beth Dillard, a musician touring with her sister Laurel.
Charles de Lint has yet to write a character or book that I couldn’t like – I love how Laurel and Beth, as well as Jim and Alice, are alike but different. I like the message that every gift, even one that is given for free, has a price. The characters Beth and Laurel are from Newford (I think they’re from Seven Wild Sisters, which I don’t have) but the story isn’t set there, as they’re on tour. So instead of the typical urban setting, there’s the beautiful Southwestern desert as the background of this novel, which reminds me a lot of Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife. There’s even a mention of Brian Froud and Terri Windling in the book, which I enjoyed.
All of de Lint’s books could be read as standalones, but I wish I could get my hands on Seven Wild Sisters because this book really makes me want to read more about Beth and Laurel’s past. I love how de Lint writes about folklore and fairy tale elements/creatures and make them seem so natural, like they truly belong in this world.
The illustrations by Charles Vess are perfect to accompany the story. Each chapter opening includes an illustration, and the scene where Jim and Alice finally confronts Coyote Woman is a two-page spread.
~ originally posted on blogspot