This is an early novel by Charles de Lint, written years ago, and it was never published. Not because it wasn't good, which it certainly is, but because he was at a point where he was becoming known for his own unique kind of contemporary fantasy, and his publisher feared he'd be branded as a traditional fantasy author if Eyes Like Leaves were to be published at that point in his career.
The story is indeed a traditional fantasy story, with shades of Tolkien, the epic battle of good vs. evil, gods and mortals fighting it out, and the future of the world hanging upon a single mortal woman who is unaware of the role she has to play.
These days I don't read as much traditional fantasy as I used to. I'm not sure why that is - I suppose it's because so much of it is the retelling of similar stories with similar themes, and after a while I found myself turning to other kinds of fantasy, things that tended to offer up the unexpected. Charles de Lint's Newford books are among my very favorites. They are top-notch stories that include the fantastical, with mythological overtones and characters who are complex and fascinating. I've read most of his books, since I discovered The Little Country years ago. (Thanks, Diane! I'll be forever in your debt for that one.) While I adore his contemporary fantasy, I do enjoy his traditional fantasy novels as well - they offer more in the way of depth of character than most high fantasy, and this one is no exception. The writing is skillful, and the characters are flawed and believable. It was fascinating to read this early work. While it doesn't hold a candle to his later books that have become firm favorites of mine, it's still a solid fantasy story, and fans of de Lint won't want to miss it.
Eyes Like Leaves by Charles de Lint (Tachyon Publications, 2009)
Reviews of other books by Charles de Lint:
Also reviewed at:
I'm Booking It: "Unfortunately, after I reached the halfway point, my joy in this beautifully written, new to me yet familiar world started to fade, and I began to realize I wanted more from my characters."
The Little Red Reviewer: "And that ending? WOW. Now I know exactly where de Lint’s talent for writing page turning, emotionally stunning urban fantasy came from."
Neth Space: "The greatest value of Eyes Like Leaves is probably in its story – not the story within the pages, but the story of the pages themselves and how they came to be. It’s a glimpse backwards in time, the view of a great writer before he was great."