by Charles de Lint

Subterranean Press


178pp/$24.95/November 2006

Triskell Tales 2
Cover by Charles de Lint

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Each year at Christmas, Charles de Lint publishes a chapbook for distribution to close friends.  In 2003, Subterranean Press collected twenty-two of these stories in Triskell Tales.  De Lint continued the tradition, and in 2005 Subterranean collected an additional seven chapbooks in Triskell Tales 2. Although sent out as Christmas gifts, these stories are not Christmas themed, but rather stories which de Lint could just as easily have had published in any of the magazines or anthologies clamoring for his work.

In 2007, de Lint published the novel Little Grrl Lost, about Elizabeth, a "little" and T.J., the girl who befriends her.  In the novel, T.J. sets off to find local author Shari Piper, who has written novels about the littles and who might be able to provide her with additional information about Elizabethís people. "Big City Littles" is Shari Piperís story, not the one she wrote, but rather the tale of her meeting with the Littles about whom she wrote.

In "Refinerytown," de Lint turns his attention to the creative process as Mona works on a comic strip, in collaboration for the first time.  In the process, Mona discovers the difficulties of working with someone else who may have different views of the manner in which the project progresses.  Her discussions with Jilly about her difficulties, both with her collaborator and the material, lead her to look at collaboration in a whole new light, not just with regard to the comic strip, but also with regard to her life in general and her budding romance with Lyle the shapechanger.

De Lint includes a collaboration of his own with "A Crow Girls' Christmas," written with his wife, MaryAnn Harris. The Crow Girls, Zia and Maida, are recurring characters in de Lintís Newford cycle and completely personify the idea that girls just want to have fun.  Focusing on their primary goal (which revolves around candy canes), the crow girls get jobs working as elves for the local mallís Santa in what is essentially a lark, both for the girls and the readers.

"Sweet Forget-Me-Not" tells the story of a young Lebanese boy attempting to fit into Western culture in a post-9/11 world.  Not only is Ahmad Nasrallah an Arab, and therefore suspect to his schoolmates, but he is also a self-proclaimed nerd, which only serves to increase his status as an outcast and a target.  While ditching school one day, he found the gemmin, a fairy race that helped him come to terms with his situation and also serve as a personification of Ahmadís initiation into puberty.  Although initially the gemmin help fight Ahmad's battles for him, in the end, they teach him a level of self reliance and the ability to stand up when he needs to.

Charles de Lint reveals that Newford suffered a major earthquake in the past, resulted in an underground city in "Da Slocklit Light."  Of course, this is exactly the sort of place that the dispossessed would gravitate towards and when word reaches Meran Kelledy and her husband Cerin of the disappearances, they vow to do something about it.  Cerin and Lucius Portsmouth descend into the underground city, only to become numbered with the disappeared, leaving Meran to find someone else to go underground.  She settles on Louie Felden, a young pickpocket, who she met when he tried to steal her purse.  Felden agrees to go down for a price, and in the process provides an interesting, and nuanced view of the idea that there are good spirits and evil ones, a view which occurs frequently not only in fantasy in general, but also in de Lint's own works.  Felden is an excellent counterbalance to the prevailing voices of Jilly Coppercorn and the de Lint's more typical characters.

"The World in a Box" is exactly what its title suggests.  De Lint's protagonist and narrator finds a nineteenth century hand-made box at an antique show.  When he looks inside it, he finds a small globe floating, which he quickly discovers only he can see.  Remembering a story once told to him by a friend, he makes a couple of wishes.  When they begin actually change the world around him, he realizes that no matter what he wishes for, even if it seems beneficial, will summon the law of unexpected consequences and what is good for one person may not be good for others.  Having come to that conclusion, he finds himself in something of a dilemma as to how to proceed with the box.  De Lint has an interesting premise, although it seems that this one could have been stretched out to explore in greater depth.  At the length the story is, is seems a little slight.

Triskell Tales 2 ends with "This Moment," about a young man with the ability to see the various spirits, goblins, and creatures who move through Newford, invisible to all the normal citizens of the city.  Long having come to terms with his strange ability, he merely tries to take photographs of what he sees, only to have the pictures appear perfectly mundane when he downloads them from his camera.  When Josie, a customer at his coffee shop notices him staring out the window at one of the creatures, he opens up to her, hoping that he can help her see what he sees, and perhaps also come up with a usefulness to his strange ability.  Although one character speculates that things don't necessarily happen for a reason, the quest for a purpose to the ability to see the creatures continues and eventually implies that there is a pattern, even if it is merely inflicted by the humans who seek it.

Triskell Tales 2 is in many ways a gift from de Lint to his readers.  Made up of stories which have mostly only been available to de Lint's selected friends (with the exception of "A Crow Girls' Christmas, which was published on-line), Triskell Tales 2 marks the first general appearance of these stories which add to the breadth and depth of de Lint's Newford cycle.  His decision to share them with a wider audience than originally planned provides a wonderful addition to any collection of de Lint's works..

Big City Littles
A Crow Girls' Christmas
Sweet Forget-Me-Not
Da Slockit Light
The World in a Box
This Moment

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