Someplace to be Flying is an urban fantasy novel by Charles de Lint. It isn’t his newest book (published in 1998), but it feels more balanced and well wrought than some of his newer pieces, and introduces the majority of characters in his “Newford” series as they struggle to find where they fit in their families, how to deal with mental illness, and how stories connect us all.
The book is set in de Lint’s fictional Newford, which reminds me of many decent-sized cities along the US/Canada border, primarily in some of it’s less glitzy, less tourist-friendly areas. But it is in those very murky, edgy spaces, that magic can be found. In this city, Animal People — the godlike beings of native American lore than can be human or animal at will — exist, and the results of their love and hate, feuds, and families, cascade in a multi-generational line that tend to result in near-death experiences, spiritual experiences, or just plain annoyance for the normal people.
The characterization is superb, with each character having their own voice, motivations, understandings, and misunderstandings that allow the story to flow from believable choices and responses to events. Everyone has their flaws, motivations and they’re all wrapped up nicely in a story about the stories we tell others, and the stories we tell ourselves. The plot is unique, with twists and turns, and a general feeling of danger to the characters involved — not unlike George R. R. Martin, you don’t know who’ll make it to the end, and character actions have consequences. The writing voice of the story is easy to read; it is a good book you can quickly get carried away in, and not have to worry about having a dictionary nearby. Conversations between characters flow easy banter. All in all, it is a decent read and a solidly made and edited book.
About the only thing that has not survived the test of time with this story are the e-mail sections; as time has passed our formatting and content of emails have gotten a bit more relaxed, and they seem a bit overly formal.
If you like urban fantasy, such as Christopher Moore’s Coyote Blue, Someplace to be Flying is a good choice.