This anthology of stories by Charles de Lint was chosen by reader vote. The stories are arranged in a way that leads you gradually into the urban fantasy landscape that he’s created over his career. It’s a good refresher for people (like me) who aren’t able to name off the characters of Newford by heart. Don’t be put off by the initial light-weight fairy-tales: once this scene is set, de Lint surveys the dark and the meaningful in fictional Newford, as well as the uplifting and magical.
For the first seven stories in, I was finding the tales diverting but not special. I laughed a little, but nothing moving. Perhaps these are more to set the scene than to really sweep you away.
The tone shifts some after that, more to loss and some redemption. Timeskip sees a young woman swept into the past by an encounter with a ghost. Freewheeling, Winter was hard, and a Graceless Child have the same sort of feeling. A Wish named Arnold ends with more hope as a lifelong magic companion is given freedom and is so not lost.
In the second half of the book, the stories continue the intensity, finishing off with several thought-provoking tales.