Charles de Lint has been writing solid urban fantasy for adults and young readers since the 1980s. I’ve followed his career off and on through the years because his books have sometimes been hard to find. That appears to be changing, though, because more and more his books are all over the shelves.
The author excels at bringing in different mythologies and cultures to his stories. A Canadian, he’s often tied to Native American myths and legends by choice, but he branches out into other venues. In Dingo, he touches on the Australian Dreamtime mythology with mixed results.
I love his first person narrator. Seventeen year old Miguel is really cool and laid back, and he has an interesting father. His dad is a single parent and ex-biker who runs a music and comic store that provides plenty of pop culture references throughout the story. I loved those.
But when Miguel meets Lainey and her dingo companion, Em, things get twisted in a hurry in the real world. I worked through the surprise reveal about the sisters pretty quickly, but it folds nicely into the story. Soon after meeting Lainey, Miguel’s dreams turn weird and dark. He finds himself dreaming up maggot-filled corpses in his bed and talking to turkeys. I liked the imagery a lot and it wasn’t what I was expecting, so that made it more fun.
Another thing I really liked about the book is Miguel’s relationship with Johnny Ward, one of the town’s bullies. Johnny and Miguel have a history that boils over because the sisters draw them together again. Johnny is like the kids I knew in the small town I grew up in, confused and lost, and having no other choice than to follow what they’ve always known. De Lint obviously grew up in this kind of environment because he knows it so well.