Charles de Lint, Greenmantle (Ace 1988; re-released by Tor, 1998)

When Tony Valenti takes out Eddie 'the Squeeze' Pinelli for Don Magaddino, he has no idea that it will become the perfect opportunity for someone to turn the tables and get rid of him. As he is enjoying the flight to Malta, someone kills the Don and his girlfriend, and makes it appear as though Tony has taken him out. Tony has no idea he will be fleeing Malta for a safehouse he's put together in Canada. But the Mafia isn't all that Tony has to fear.

Lanark County, Ontario, is normally a very peaceful area, part of the reason that Tony chooses to make his home there, beginning a new life as Tony Garonne. But when Frances (Frankie) Treasure and her daughter Alice move into the neighboring house, things begin to go awry.

Frankie won a whopping $200,000.00 in the lottery, and stated in the press release that all she wants to do is buy her childhood home and fix it up for herself and her daughter. She thinks this is a great use for the money, and a way of bringing some stability into their lives, which have been rather turbulent for all of Ali's fourteen years.

Unfortunately for Frankie and Ali, Frankie's ex-husband has recently been released from jail and has come across the picture and statement in the newspaper. He feels that she owes him the winnings, and plans to take it all. But while watching their home, Big Earl Shaw has a run-in with Tony Valenti and recognizes him, and is recognized in turn. The tension mounts.

A strange piping can be heard coming from the woods behind Tony's and Frankie's homes, a very powerful piping which wakes what is in the heart, be it good or ill. The residents of Lanark County who hear the mysterious piping will never be the same again; some may not even survive. Ali is compelled to follow the sound to its source.

Ali and her mother have no idea that they're being watched, and not just by Big Earl, until Ali spots a mysterious and rather androgynous figure in the back yard, fiddling around with her Walkman, which happened to disappear out of her room. Ali races to confront the stranger, and things will never again be the same for her.

Mally is one of the smaller mysteries, one with horns growing from her head. This causes some alarm for Ali, but not as much as one would expect. Mally leads Ali to a village back in the woods, a village that time seems to have bypassed. It is here that Ali learns the tale of the Stag, and how Tommy, the piper, is actually summoning him. The Stag is being chased by the Hunt, though, thus putting everything in his path in extreme danger.

Ali is swept up in the Mystery. When the mob arrive to finish off Tony Valenti, Ali is back in the woods with Mally, visiting the village. This time when Tommy begins to play his pipes, the Stag comes, and without thought, Mally tosses Ali upon his back, then scrambles up behind her. The girls vanish ... The explosive outcome of the events will leave you wanting more.

Greenmantle is a tale of magic and mystery, a tale of that which walks the primal forest, summoned by music, and by need.

 [Naomi de Bruyn]