Charles de Lint’s Tamson House

Sara Kendell once read somewhere that the tale of the world is like a tree. The tale, she understood, did not so much mean the niggling occurrences of daily life. Rather it encompassed the grand stories that caused some change in the world and were remembered in ensuing years as, if not histories, at least folktales and myths. By such reasoning, Winston Churchill could take his place in British folklore alongside the legendary Robin Hood; Merlin Ambrosius had as much validity as Martin Luther. The scope of their influence might differ, but they were all a part of the same tale. — Moonheart by Charles de Lint

English country house mysteries were the subject of my post yesterday but I’m sliding over to Canada to talk about a different type of manor this fine morning. Nearly thirty years ago, Charles de Lint first published Moonheart — A Romance which features Tamson House, one of the strangest buildings imagined this side of Evenmere and indeed, like Evenmere, it contains wonders far beyond its size would indicate. It appears from the street as row-houses filling a downtown block in this imaginary version of Ottawa, enclosing its own internal garden. A garden that has Merlin sleeping at its heart!

The house itself is inhabited by various travellers with many of the sprawling rooms housing a whole array of passing characters over the years from artists and poets to tattooed bikers. There are vast libraries, fey computers, and enough space for myriad stories to take place. Many a reader has expressed the wish they’d like to live there!

There is a sequel, Spiritwalk, that continues the story, and there’s other works by him set in this version of Ottawa including Yarrow: An Autumn Tale, the city he and MaryAnn Harris live in. I think it is one of best fantasies ever written and one that stands up to repeated readings.

It is a truly wonderous novel that got what I call a definitive edition in the Moonheart — 20th Anniversary Edition which Subterranean Press published in 2004 and which features art by Charles Vess. You should be able to find copies online.

If you like Moonheart and its sequel, I recommend reading next the Jack of Kinrowan novels as they feature a different sort of house set in the same city.

Cross-posted from Sleeping Hedgehog where it ran in a different form.

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