Charles de Lint, Buffalo Man (Subterranean Press, 1999)


Buffalo Man tells the story of a man with buffalo blood who becomes trapped in the spirit world. The story begins with Jilly accompanying Professor Dapple to the home of Meran and Cerin Kelledy. While Jilly is watching the unusual number of crows in the Kelledys' front yard, Lucius arrives carrying an unconscious man. The man is left in the care of Jilly and Meran while Cerin and Lucius try to find the Crow Girls, who they hope can tell them more about the man, as they were the first to find him. While touching the man Jilly finds herself transported into the spirit world and it is only through her eternal optimism combined with the help of the Crow Girls that they are once again able to return to their own world.

This short story reads as an extension to the events that were portrayed in de Lint's novel, Someplace to be Flying. There is, yet again, the strong presence of the corbae in the form of the Crow Girls as well as Lucius, the raven, who is once more participating in the world rather than living the life of a recluse as he did in Someplace to be Flying.

Brought together in this story are some of de Lint's most popular inhabitants of the mythical city of Newford: Jilly Coppercorn, the eternal optimist; the Kelledys, Meran and Cerin, whose music has mystical properties. And yet again we are introduced to the wonderful duo -- the Crow Girls, Maida and Zia -- who though quite mischievous are also know to be saviours.

Buffalo Man contains the real world magic that de Lint is well known for -- urban fantasy. However, the difference between de Lint and many other writers of urban fantasy is that he presents a believable case. The world is not overtly populated with fantastical creatures, but you never know around which corner you will discover one of the world's mysteries. Also leading to more credibility is the fact that not all of the characters are believers; there are those who cannot see the magic in the world, and help balance out others who, like Jilly Coppercorn, are true believers. Then there are those who don't fully believe, like Professor Dapple, but still know that there are little bits of magic in the world.

Buffalo Man has been printed as a chapbook of 32 pages and is already in its second printing. It features a cover illustration of the Crow Girls with the Buffalo Man penned by Charles Vess and has been printed on high quality grey flecked paper. Overall a very attractive package.

For more information on the writings of Charles de Lint check out his Web site and don't forget our other appraisals of his other works -- nearly all his works have been reviewed here.

[Marian McHugh]