Faerielands: The Wild Wood

In 1991, Charles de Lint was one of four writers invited by the artist Brian Froud to participate in a wonderfully creative project. Brian Froud had painted a series of paintings called “Faerielands,” and he invited these four authors to pick a painting and write a book based on it:

“The writers divided the images among them, choosing the ones they were most drawn to, and then they each went away to write the story the pictures whispered to them.” 

“They had the freedom to write whatever they chose, just as I’d had the freedom to paint what I chose; yet we’d agreed on a central premise: a recognition that Faerie, inextricably bound as it is to nature and natural forces, is gravely threatened by the ecological crises that human beings have brought to our world.”

The painting above inspired Charles de Lint to write The Wild Wood, a story about a young painter, Eithnie, who is struggling to recover from some painful personal losses in her life, and also regain the inspiration and creative spark missing from her most recent work. She returns to her secluded cabin to paint in the solitude and beauty of the Canadian woods, but finds that strange creatures keep showing up in her sketches and in her dreams. Eithnie is somehow connected to the world of Faerie, and she is needed. Her healing process is tied directly to the needs of the forest, and the survival of the world of Faerie depends on her decisions.

I loved the main character whose emotional landscape was so sensitively and honestly described by Charles de Lint. I have to agree with a quote I found from Canada’s book magazine, Quill and Quire:

De Lint’s greatest skill is his human focus—the mythic elements never overshadow his intimate study of character. To read de Lint is to fall under the spell of a master storyteller, to be reminded of the greatness of life, of the beauty and majesty lurking in shadows and empty doorways. 
 

And I also loved the way he made it so easy to believe completely in the existence of the magical world of Faerie. He blurred the lines between our reality and that world, and in doing so showed the interconnectedness of everything in nature. It was a positive book, with a very simple, but important message:

“Whatever we do makes a difference,” Eithnie said. “Doesn’t matter how small our efforts might seem to us, it’ll still make a difference.”

This book is one of Charles de Lint’s early works, and the first of his books I’ve read. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to read more of his work!

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8 thoughts on “Faerielands: The Wild Wood

  1. Chris

    I can’t wait to read this one now Robin! I just finished reading The Blue Girl and felt the same way about it…it’s hard not to believe in the worlds that he creates. They’re so vivid and convincing and he tells an enchanting story. Thanks for the wonderful review!

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  2. Nymeth

    I love that quote about his work – it nails down what makes him so special for me perfectly. I can’t wait to read this book! Thanks for the lovely review, Robin.

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  3. Carl V.

    This is yet another de Lint that I really want to read. I am pretty sure The Wood Wife by Terri Windling resulted from the same project. (and looking at your links I see that is the case). I didn’t realize that there this project existed and that there were other novels based off of his painting. Froud has been a favorite since the first time I saw Labyrinth and discovered the creatures based off of his designs. I’m going to have to feature him soon on a Friday Favorites!!!

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  4. Chelsea

    All of the paintings are just so strikingly beautiful. I can only hope that the prose lives up to such a reputation – which it sounds like De Lint does! Another great reivew and another book to add to the pile!

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  5. Robin

    Rhinoa, this was my first Charles de Lint, but it definitely won’t be my last. I really enjoyed his writing.

    Thanks, Kay. I’m enjoying the project!

    Thanks,Chris. I read your review and definitely want to read The Blue Girl. I’m so excited to have discovered a new (to me) author and have so much wonderful reading to look forward to!

    Nymeth, I had to put little sticky notes on quite a few pages of this book because there were some very nice quotes I wanted to save. It was a very nice introduction to de Lint. I’m hooked.

    Jenclair, it’s a fast read and very pleasant. I enjoyed it a lot.

    Carl V., yes, The Wood Wife was definitely part of Froud’s project. I thought your review of it was excellent, and I’m going to link to it when I post my own thoughts on the book. I’d love to see you feature Froud on one of your Friday Favorites!

    Chelsea, I love the paintings, too. Now that I’ve finished reading all 4 books, I can say that they are definitely worth reading!

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