The Wind in His Heart by Charles de Lint
Reviewed by Benoit Chartier
Steve is a rock star cum desert rat who’s been running away from his problems for a very long time. He’s found a home in the desert, far away from most of them and has managed to be forgotten by the outside world. When a teenaged girl is abandoned in his adoptive land, though, his resolve to not get involved is put to the test.
Thomas is a Kikimi youth, stuck working at the rez outpost to help his family survive. He spends his days watching the world go by… and the strange creatures and spirits that inhabit the Painted Lands, what the Kikimi call the desert. He hides this fact from everyone, especially the local shaman, who eyes him as a potential apprentice. If not, he will never be able to leave.
Sadie is abandoned by her scheming father in the middle of the desert. She’s never had it easy, but being thrown away like a piece of trash seals it for her, people-wise. No one respects her, so why shouldn’t she return the favor? Will she change her mind after getting a hand from some old dude who happens to be there when she gets ditched?
Leah comes from Newford, a northern city. She’s obsessed with the Diesel Rats, a 70's band that broke up at its peak, its lead singer dying in a plane crash. She’s been that way ever since her best friend committed suicide. She’s always wondered why the music they shared wasn’t able to save her. When she receives an email telling her that Jackson Cole, said deceased singer, is alive and well, she decides to investigate. The ensuing book deal might make her rich and famous.
The Wind in His Heart is a sweet tale, bringing together these main protagonists and a slew of others, both good and bad in their own right. De Lint humanizes everyone, making even the worst person or creature redeemable. I would compare it to the title: it is like the breath of the wild. Sometimes soft and playful, sometimes intense. The story is flawless in its telling, and shows the accumulated insights of decades of knowledge delivered in a believable and humanistic way. I enjoyed the magical realism suffused throughout: there is no need for a magical system, it just is.
Reading the book not only made me feel as if I were in the mountains of the Southern United States, but made me want to go there as well, to experience the beauty, solitude and life that permeates that which inspired this magical tale. I’m not surprised it took De Lint three years to write this novel: perfection does not happen overnight.
The Wind in His Heart is published by Triskell Press