Dreams Underfoot: The Newford Collection

~by Charles de Lint
1994 World Fantasy Award Nominee

Dreams Underfoot is an absolutely fantastic collection. It brings together nineteen stories written by Charles de Lint between 1987 and 1993. While most have been previously published in magazines or other anthologies, two are original to this collection: "Small Deaths" and "In the House of My Enemy." The entire collection was nominated for the World Fantasy Award and several of the stories have been nominated individually for various awards over the years.

I came across this book in a somewhat roundabout way: I had seen a review for Someplace to be Flying (which is by the same author who seems to be very well loved) that grabbed my attention. After a bit of investigation, I discovered that it is part of a series of sorts, the Newford Stories. The books are written to stand alone, but the author does give a suggested reading order on his website. Dreams Underfoot is recommended as the best starting place, so I decided to follow the author's advice and found a copy of it to read.

I am so glad that I did--these stories are incredible. I suppose they would fall into the category of "urban fantasy," but I would hate it if someone would avoid this book because of that. It is perhaps best described as a collection of original modern fairy tales, but even that doesn't seem to quite fit or be an adequate portrayal. Ultimately, these stories are about finding magic in the real world. This isn't a collection to be rushed through; each story is so emotionally charged and atmospheric, and each deserves to be appreciated and savored one at a time.

People who don't usually like short story collections might enjoy this one. While each story is a separate, they are all connected through places and characters who appear and reappear, either center stage or in a supporting role. I found this to work out really well--each story can be appreciated individually as well as part of the whole. Although it is always difficult for me to pick favorites, I think that "The Moon Is Drowning While I Sleep" would be among my top choices, although almost all of the stories were exceptionally good. This really is one of the best collections, and one of the best books, that I've read recently.

Stories include: Uncle Dobbin's Parrot Fair; The Stone Drum; Timeskip; Freewheeling; That Explains Poland; Romano Drom; The Sacred Fire; Winter Was Hard; Pity the Monsters; Ghosts of Wind and Shadow; The Conjure Man; Small Deaths; The Moon Is Drowning While I Sleep; In the House of My Enemy; But for the Grace Go I; Bridges; Our Lady of the Harbour; Paperjack; Tallulah.