Every time I read a book by Charles de Lint I’m reminded how much I enjoy his work. In this book, as many of his others, I really appreciated his characters and his world-building.
On the Day of the Dead, at the Solona Music Hall, Altagracia Quintero meets John Burns – just two weeks too late.
Grace, as her friends call her, has a Ford Motor Company tattoo running down her leg and grease worked deep into her hands. She works at Sanchez Motorworks customizing hot rods. Finding the line in a classic car is her calling. Now Grace has to find the line in her own life. Grace loves John, and John loves her, and that would be wonderful, except that John, like Grace, has unfinished business: he’s haunted by the childhood death of his younger brother. He’s never stopped feeling responsible. Before their relationship can find its resolution, the two of them will have to teach each other about life and love, about hot rods and Elvis Presley, and about why it’s necessary to let some things go.
The Mystery of Grace is a rather unusual ghost story. I find de Lint’s work to be rather sweet, even when tackling very harsh subjects, and this book fits that pattern for me.
I loved the character of Grace. Life hasn’t been easy for her, but she’s found her own path. Many people looking at her find her tattoos to be off-putting, but to her, each has a meaning, and is a celebration of her life.
She and her mother were never able to connect. Her mother wanted her to find a nice lawyer and settle down, and Grace wanted to be doing something herself. Thanks to the strong bond she forged with her grandfather, she found her calling in working with old cars.
At first, I thought the story would equally belong to John, since the book starts with him and his ill-timed meeting with Grace. Although he’s an interesting character as well, the story belongs to her.
Grace’s world is wonderfully built. I think it draws from several mythologies, but most of it is new to me, and I don’t know how much is directly from de Lint’s imagination (I think most of it is). Wherever it originates, it is fantastic to explore it with Grace, as she tries to understand its secrets.
Production: I always appreciate when a book that switches point of view uses a different person for each one, so that’s a plus. I didn’t have any issues here.
Audio vs. Paper: This is the first time I’ve tried one of de Lint’s books in audio, and I’m quite pleased to find they work well in this format as well. de Lint has a very nice rhythm and flow to his words that drew me in even further, since I don’t like to take the time to appreciate the language when I read in print. Although de Lint is wonderful in any format, I’d suggest trying his books (and this one in particular) as audio.