Charles de Lint’s Eyes like Leaves is a classical fantasy novel with elf types and orc types and druid-types and light-versus-dark. The names are tweaked to protect the identities (no, they’re not druids, they’re dhruides)… but somehow the ‘astute’ reader can tell who is who.
The story itself features shapechanging good guys and bad guys. Elder/ancient wizard and rebellious apprentice. Young scion of the ‘Summerblood’ and eternal winter. We all trek across the Great-Britain analog to reach the showdown against eternal Winter.
Given the book’s original creation-date, it once was fresher and more original. Now these storylines are well-worn-down with little sparkle left to them.
In 1980, this was one of the earliest books Charles de Lint wrote, but his agent advised him not to publish it unless he wanted to be stereotyped into the Tolkien-esque genre. Decades later, Chuck has decided that his urban fantasist reputation can withstand the shaking up, and published this with minimal revisions.
Speaking of the minimal revisions, there was an odd glitch in several sentences in this book – words conglomerated without a space as if alternatives were all retained after a copy-edit. As if MS Word’s track changes goofed-up! The more common examples were 2 verbs stuck together like creptwalked. If it happened more often I might have taken it as a deliberate jabberwocky or Ulysses style, but the occurrences were rare and not placed for emphasis of the story. Just bizarre typos!
Mostly I think this book would be interesting to serious de Lint fans, or devoted classical fantasy readers who want another trip across this territory. For me, it was too much of the same old stuff.