Little (Grrl) Lost

Little (Grrl) Lost – Charles de Lint (2007)

I’ve never really liked fantasy novels aside from Terry Pratchett Discworld novels which are really just comedy pieces presented in a fantasy setting. But I do try reading a fantasy novel every now and then hoping that the fantasy elements won`t put me off, and that I can just enjoy a good story. For years now I`ve heard about Charles de Lint novels that are categorized as ‘urban fantasy’ and hoped that that was the type of fantasy I could enjoy. Not overloaded with magic, elves, pixies and trolls but not quite normal at the same time. I`ve also been anxious to read at least one of his novels since he is a local writer, probably the most prominent genre writer in the city. While I have some of his novels sitting on my ‘unread’ shelves, I still picked up “Little (Grrl) Lost” because the cover and description appealed to me as the type of fantasy I might actually enjoy.

The story is about a girl named T.J. who’s family recently moved from the country to the city and while commiserating her plight stumbles upon a ‘little’, a girl about six inches tall. Elizabeth soon fills her in about her own family ‘Littles’ living within the walls of T.J.s house. But Elizabeth is something of a rebel and sets out on her own after another disagreement with her parents. T.J. finds her shortly after her runaway attempt, but upon returning to the house Elizabeth finds that her family have already moved on. Hoping that a local author who writes juvenile novels about the very type of little people that could be Elizabeth’s Littles, the girls seek out the author in the hopes that her books were as much about real life experience with Littles than mere fiction. But rather than having one big joint adventure, the girls are separated early on and each of the two then embarks on their own distinct journey.

T.J.’s troubles are all mired in the real world beginning with a pack of boys that steal her backpack with Elizabeth still hidden inside. Her search for Elizabeth includes run ins with several boys and men who often end up being the opposite of what she expected. Elizabeth on the other hand almost immediately discovers a whole hidden world inhabited by every type of fantasy character imaginable. Along the way each girl discovers a lot about themselves and what it means to be in a family.

I really enjoyed the ‘real world’ parts where we only had Elizabeth and T.J dealing with their respective family issues, getting acquainted with one another and then beginning their journey. Light but enjoyable reading. But once the girls were separated I was mainly intrigued by T.J.’s end of the search and not so much Elizabeth and her discovery of the fantasy world and all it’s scope and grandeur. I immediately found myself trying to read between the lines when anyone was saying anything and trying to figure out the meaning of all the minute events in relation to the ‘big picture’. In other words, those very aspects of fantasy literature that I just don’t like.

The novel itself is probably categorized as a juvie or YA and that too perhaps detracted from my total enjoyment. I did not hate it by any means, but it was yet another example of a fantasy that I could not embrace without misgivings. Maybe the next one…

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