I will say upfront that I’m not really a huge fan of ‘urban fantasy’ – that genre which mainly consists of sparky young heroines with tattoos going about their everyday business only to discover that their local cupcake parlour is run by a whimsical faery. Or something. Okay, I may be slightly prejudiced by a particularly awful example of the genre that it was my misfortune to read last year. But even so, fairies and cupcakes and elves and family prophecies and late-blooming magical powers? Not really my thing.
So it may be that I am entirely the wrong person to take on this subject, and perhaps in ‘urban fantasy world’, all of what I am about to say would be considered ridiculous nitpicking about nothing at all.
If someone is dead – I mean, dead – If a character in a story dies and is dead, and the author kind of bangs on about how weird it is to be dead because you don’t have to / don’t want to / actually can’t:
d) crave a crafty fag
If this is the basis on which a character is dead, then how the hell can said character have their breath knocked out of them? How can they cut themselves and BLEED? What the whatty-what, people?
I can just about suspend my disbelief to accept that a dead person could still have a body that is a projection of their spirit or a handy visual aid/symbol of their former life. It would be awkward to be dead, yet still be conscious, and unable to walk around and do novelly stuff. I guess I can accept (even if for no other reason than I’m a willing reader and literary convention demands it) that desire and fear and other basic, bodily emotions can survive in a person who no longer has a body with which to feel these things. It’s a bit rubbish, but if an author writes about someone’s spirit continuing and being able to feel emotions and think and stuff, I can go along with it for the sake of the story.
But don’t tell me, Charles de Lint, don’t tell me that a person has no need to eat, drink or do any of the other things that sustain a physical body, and yet that person can still somehow bleed. How is she bleeding? How is her body making fresh red blood, when she no longer eats or drinks? How is she breathless, when she no longer breathes? How does her body heal from the cut? How come she can feel pain, but not hunger? How does she make tears?
And this bleeding thing. It’s not like it was just some throwaway line I could ignore. It was the engine that powered the resolution of the entire plot.
‘The Mystery of Grace’ was certainly not the worst book I’ve ever read. In places it reminded me a bit of Jonathan Carroll’s writing. I kind of liked the sparky heroine with tattoos. And I’ll even admit that there was one hell of a good idea buried in there. But this dead people bleeding thing is just STUPID.
Am I wrong? Obviously not. But feel free to disagree if you can.