Honey, the Pit Bull in Charles de Lint’s urban fantasy Widdershins may be one of the strongest dog characters in recent literature. Honey, a Pit Bull who was released with her pack from a dogfighters’ chain and hell, has the ability to speak with some of the people with whom she feels an emotional connection. More importantly, she has the ability to speak to us. Honey is not the central character in Widdershins but she is the one who lives with me long after the last page is closed.
If you aren’t familiar with de Lint’s marvelous books set in the mythical Canadian city of Newford AND you like urban fantasy, then you are missing a real treat. De Lint is a master and this is a true masterpiece. I interviewed him some time back about his moving canid characters. Widdershins is about the supernatural and human relationships of fairies, Native American spirits and the humans who get caught in between.
But why am I reviewing this apparently non-dog book? Because it accomplishes what so many dog books attempt — it makes an amazing and moving connection between reader and dog. By tieing the horrible abuse of Honey to that of the sexual and physical abuse of human children, de Lint graphically and unequivocably breaks through the mental compartmentalization some humans maintain to avoid accepting that animal and human abuse are born of the same evil impulses.
Honey is not a human in dog form; Honey is completely canine. She is a dog who has been beaten, starved, and known every vile thing a human can do to a dog. Yet this survivor of the dogfight rings has risen beyond the pain to an understanding of life that few humans could claim. She has faced her fears and hatreds and learned to control them. She is the heroine who walks between the worlds of the dreamlands, and into our hearts.
As a writer of dog lit(erature) I hope de Lint lets Honey star in her own book! She is a shining star of wisdom and an unforgettable character of any species!