Charles de Lint, or CdL as he is known among the fanbase, is primarily responsible for convincing me that I could put fantasy elements into a novel that takes place in the world I live in. Urban fantasy is a kind of everyperson's magical realism. If you have trouble reading stuff like (and I have to admit, I kept going only because I had to know why Colonel Aurelio Buendia ended up in front of a firing squad, and it wasn't always easy), then spend some time in Newford.
Newford is situated somewhere near the Canadian border, although opinion differs as to which side of the border it is on. It is the home that CdL has constructed for such characters as Jilly Coppercorn, Geordie and Christy Riddell, Sophie Etoile, and the Crow Girls.
Among the alleys and ash cans of Newford, in tumble-down houses and tenements, in wild, untended places and even in the manicured parks and shiny new malls (when everyone else has gone home) live another coterie of characters. These include fairies and gnomes from Celtic mythology (they came here on the immigrant ships) as well as coyote and raven and others from Native American lore. In this world, the "illegal aliens" clash with the natives ever as much as their human counterparts have, the difference being that more even-handed outcomes are possible.
My first CdL was , and although it is set in Ottawa (CdL is Canadian), I can't help but think that it set the tone for magic in ordinary places, not that a huge mansion encompassing an entire city block is an ordinary place, and that it provided a template for a city called Newford.
I just finished , which fills in an intriguing piece of Jilly Coppercorn's backstory. Many of CdL's latest pieces, I've noticed, seem especially appropriate to young people, offering characters and situations with which too many of them can relate and which offer an enticing combination of healthy choices imbued with magical wisdom which, in turn, might reveal a trace of a path to follow.
His latest, , is Book I of a promised III. Once again, it involves teen characters who have to come to terms with one of those pesky life situations which they did not choose and over which they have little control. In this case, as I understand it, shape-shifting.
I haven't read it yet, but I'm going to.