Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Mystery of Grace.

Title/Author: The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint

Genre: Urban Fantasy.

Publisher: Tor

Source: Purchased.

Favorite quote: “…sometimes things are as wonderful and perfect as they are because you only get to hang on to them for a moment.” ~Wes.

“Our experience with God, with the world, or the spirit world is more personal than scriptures and structure.” ~Nina

All in all: A couple reservations, but still compelling.

SynopsisOn the Day of the Dead, the Solona Music Hall is jumping.  That's where Altagracia Quintero meets John Burns...

Altagracia – her friends call her Grace – has a tattoo of Nuestra SeƱora de Altagracia on her shoulder, she's got a Ford Motor Company tattoo running down her leg, and she has grease worked so deep into her hands that it'll never wash out.  Grace works at Sanchez Motorworks, customizing hot rods.  Finding the line in a classic car is her calling. 

Now Grace has to find the line in her own life.  A few blocks around the Alverson Arms is all her world -- from the little grocery store where she buys beans, tamales, and cigarettes (“cigarettes can kill you,” they tell her, but she smokes them anyway) to the record shop, to the library where Henry, a black man confined to a wheelchair, researches the mystery of life in death – but she’s got unfinished business keeping her close to home. 

Grace loves John, and John loves her, and that would be wonderful, except that John, like Grace, has unfinished business – he’s haunted by the childhood death of his younger brother.  He's never stopped feeling responsible. Like Grace in her way, John is an artist, and before their relationship can find its resolution, the two of them will have to teach each other about life and love, about hot rods and Elvis Presley, and about why it's necessary to let some things go.

My Thoughts: Charles de Lint is a thoughtful writer who seems to want to share his vision of the world and his views on spirituality. I don’t feel his books are preachy. In fact, there is always a character who doubts and disbelieves and he allows the reader this view as well while also trying to convey that anything is possible. I think that the author’s main point here is faith, whatever it is that you may believe in.

If you read other reviews of this book, you will get more of the premise of this book, but I do not want to give away even that much. The reason is that I went into this book blind and the confusion that I felt at first led to realization and surprise. The turn of events is compelling and different from other books by Charles de Lint yet with the same feeling of awe and mystery. If I knew more going in I don’t think I would have had that same sense of wonder.

Grace is a tattooed mechanic who works on hot rods and loves the whole rockabilly culture. In this respect she reminded me a little bit of Mercy Thompson. I do like Grace. There is one point in the book where I felt she was too “good,” but then it came about that some of her motives were based on fear and I related to her more. Her love interest John is also a character that is well developed. Some may find fault with the fact that he got too much into Grace’s world since after he met her delved into hot rods and surf music as well. But he explained that he didn’t envelop himself in these interests just to connect with Grace, it was that Grace connected him to these interests that he didn’t realize he had until he explored them. Their romance although very quick was believable to me as well. Maybe because they were. Or maybe because in the de Lint world there is so much magic it often seems like anything is possible.

***SPOILER ALERT: My problem with The Mystery of Grace is that one of the characters sort of dropped out of the picture. Perhaps because of the whole theme of faith you are not supposed to know what happened. Also, the fact that a bruja created the world that they were stuck in, made sense to a point, but part of me felt that it wasn’t dramatic enough. :END SPOILER ALERT***

However, the writing is beautiful and his characters are always easy to be around, if that makes sense. I always want to be friends with the people in the de Lint world. This is a book that kept me turning the pages so I could find out what happened and also once again gave me something to ponder and a point of view to rattle around in my head.


(I am trying something new: Writing about books without giving a rating! I'm going to see if it works for me and for you. Please let me know what you think. If you must see a rating from me, you can visit my Goodreads page or my Amazon reviews.)


Savannah said...

Hmmm, I was about to say when I started reading the synopsis of the book that it sounded like Mercy Thompson series and I love it! This sounds like a book that can definitely catch me eye. Thanks for the review! I will pick this one up!

Jaime Anderson said...

Omg I just bought this at Barnes and Noble yesterday. Too funny that you just read it. I'll have to move it up my tbr pile!

Jenny said...

I love that even though faith plays such a prominent theme in this book, it never comes across as overbearing or as though certain beliefs are being forced on us. Strange that one of the characters would just drop out of the story, but overall this sounds like an interesting read!

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

Sounds like a great read, and I love the cover. I am resolved not to buy any more books until I clear at least 14 books off my TBR shelf (seriously, I mean it this time!) but the ban does not include library books... :)

Midnyte Reader said...

@Savvy-I don't think this book will be part of a series. But even the cover reminds me of Mercy.

@Jaime-I'm looking forward to your review.

@Jenny-This author has definite views and opinions which is apparent, but I also think one of those views is not to proselytize. Which is nice.

@Kate-Sometimes even the library books get out of hand!

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