by Charles de Lint

Subterranean Press


152pp/$35.00/May 2002

Seven Wild Sisters
Cover by Charles Vess

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Anyone who has read the works of Charles de Lint knows that his world of fairy can be a malicious, as well as magical, place.  In the book Seven Wild Sisters, de Lint tells the story of Sarah Jane Dillard’s first encounter with “Aunt” Lillian Kindred and the subsequent adventure which befalls herself and her six siblings.

Lillian Kindred is a mysterious witch figure to Sarah Jane and her six sisters, although de Lint makes it clear that she is an accepted part of the adult community, who helps out the old woman who lives in the woods far away from Newford civilization.  When Sarah Jane finally does work up the courage to spy on Aunt Lillian, she discovers an interesting woman who has a frontierswoman view of life and hard work, mixed with an understanding of the natural, and supernatural, world around her.  Sarah Jane begins to help Aunt Lillian around her farm and listens in rapt attention to Aunt Lillian’s stories of the spirits of the woods although she does not have any encounters with them.

One of the chores Sarah Jane helps with is the gathering of the root ‘sang, which provides the impetus for the supernatural element to enter into the story.  Sarah Jane finds herself in the middle of a fairy feud when she saves a ‘sangman from the arrows shot at it by bee fairies.  When Sarah Jane disappears into the land of fairy to resolve her issues with the bee fairies, de Lint happily switches to the points of view of her sundry sisters.  Once the world of fairy gains a toehold into the Dillard family, it seems that all of the sisters are affected by it as Sarah Jane’s six sisters are taken captives by the bee fairies and the ‘sangmen to be used as pawns.

The seven sisters are comprised of three individuals and two sets of twins.  In each of the cases of the twins, each girl appears almost as half an individual, with similar interests as her twin and the ability to complete the twin’s sentences.  This is a feature which de Lint has used before, most notably in the Crow sisters who feature in many of the recent Newford stories.

The story mixes healthy doses of adventure and de Lint’s vision of magic while laying the groundwork for a variety of stories which can be told about these characters in the future.  In fact, Seven Wild Sisters doesn’t even form the beginning of this sequence, as “Aunt” Lillian appeared as Lily in de Lint’s recent story “Somewhere in My Mind is a Painting Box.”  Nevertheless, it appears clear that de Lint intends to continue to write about the Dillard sisters, either individually or collectively.

Purchase this book in hardcover from Amazon Books

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