Jack In The Green by Charles de Lint (book review).

An archetype is an original pattern or model on which all the subsequent characters or settings are based. They are not to be confused with stereotypes which are generalisations. One of the accepted archetypes is the Outlaw. Charles De Lint is an author who likes to play with archetypes and subvert them.

Jack In The Green’ is set in the Arizona town of Santo del Vado Viejo, where the Hispanic community exists next to rich, secure enclaves. Maria Martinez works as a house maid in one of the enclaves. When she sees the house next to the one she is working in being broken into and pretends she didn’t see. One of the gang was Luz, who was once her best friend. Maria discovers that the gang only steals from people like bankers who have acquired their wealth through deceit. The money is given to those who need it, such as for paying the arrears on rent. Maria is drawn to Jack, who is the leader of the gang.

When Luz is arrested and the plan is to steal enough money to pay her bail. The target chosen is the county sheriff. As they distribute the money, they are ambushed by a vicious gang and Maria is shot.

Amongst the Hispanic culture there is a strong belief in magic. As teenagers, Maria and Luz made a pact and buried the means of contacting each other if the need arose. This magic is woven through the novella and changes it from the ordinary into something more powerful. Jack and his gang, Luz explains, are there because of her belief in justice and fairness and are archetypes and it is her magic that has brought them here. It is easy to see that the archetype in question is Robin Hood and it is not hidden.

De Lint has created a gem with this book and Subterranean Press know how to package such works of art. Although a slim hardcover, it has delightful interior drawings by Charles Vess. Here, it is a case of read, enjoy and read again.

Pauline Morgan

August 2022

(pub: Subterranean Press, 2014. 90 page deluxe hardback. Price: $35.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-641-0)

check out website: www.subterraneanpress.com

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