I had read de Lint's The Riddle of the Wren
years ago - around 1980, if I recall - and remember nothing about it except the cool cover, with its Celtic-influenced design.
Then a friend passed Moonheart
to me as a must-read, and I was hooked.
De Lint's storytelling web is woven out of European folk beliefs, Celtic myth, Native American practice, that little niggle inside your head telling you there's more to certain places than meets the eye, mysterious pockets of forest amid an urban setting that feel like they could easily be home to a band of faery, those recurring dreams where you find a hidden door in your house that leads to a previously unknown treasure trove right next door... Somehow it avoids becoming a hodge-podge, and draws you irresistably into his spell.
I subsequently have read everything de Lint has written - up to a point about 5 years ago, when I got behind and haven't yet caught up: the man is ridiculously prolific. The earlier books, like Harp of the Grey Rose
, aren't nearly as good, IMO: seemed like he was trying to hew too closely to European traditions. Greenmantle
was (I believe) the first that brought those old stories into a modern setting, and once he hit on that combination, his unique voice began to come through loud and clear.