Unlike its predecessor, Moonheart, Spiritwalk isn't a complete novel but a short story, a couple of novelettes, and a novella. I think this fragmentation works against it.
You see, in Moonheart de Lint managed to bring disparate fantasy elements together, as he does so well--Celtic and Amerind mythology and magic(arguably his favourites), in this case. He also had a sizeable number of major and minor characters. He pulled it off because the novel was about 450 pages long.
Spiritwalk is about 400 pages, but "Ghostwood", the novella, is just over 200--and de Lint tries to get an incident on the same scale happening. He also tries to bring in all the(surviving)characters from Moonheart, plus a few new ones who were introduced in the novelettes. The result is somewhat cluttered and almost utterly lacking in tension. It doesn't help that the major villain does very little directly throughout the story, so that one never gets any real dread of him as one did for the equivalent in Moonheart.
The novelettes, "Ascian In Rose" and "Westlin Wind", introduce an interesting pair of characters, but don't develop them as well as they could--that is left for "Ghostwood", where it just adds to the clutter. And the opening short story, "Merlin Dreams In The Mondream Wood", is nice but doesn't connect with the rest of the book except peripherally. If all the stories had been separate, this wouldn't have bothered me, but since they weren't, it does.
It may just be that in comparison to Moonheart this is a letdown. Who knows what I would have thought had I read it first. (It would have spoiled the ending of Moonheart for me, probably. Authors like to tell you that you can read a middle book in a series and not have to have read the earlier ones, but they don't normally mention that this often spoils the earlier books for you...)
In all--it's not bad, but don't go in with inflated expectations.
%A de Lint, Charles
%C New York
%D May 1992
%G ISBN 0-812-51620-6
%P 398 pp.
%S Tamson House
%V Book 2
%O Paperback, US$4.99, Can$5.99
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