Another of de Lint's urban fantasy novels. At the artists' colony of Kellygnow live the estate's fey housekeeper Nuala Fahey, the reclusive transvestite Musgrave Wood, witch and artists' model Bettina San Miguel, and sculptor Ellie Jones—she has the magic too, but doesn't know it. Bettina, Ellie, and others are haunted by hard, dangerous men only they can see: these are the Gentry, Irish spirits who came to Canada along with the immigrants. The Gentry found local spirits—manitou—already in occupation, and so, unable to settle on the land, took up residence in the city of Newford. Musgrave's made a bargain with them: she'll have immortality in exchange for helping the Gentry defeat the manitou. Her medium is an ancient and powerful Green Man mask—but it's broken. So Musgrave commissions Ellie to make a metal copy of the mask; this, infused with Ellie's own magic, will awaken an ancient and powerful sprit. Musgrave and the Gentry have their opponents, however: Hunter Cole, the owner of a failing music shop, musician Miki Greer, Bettina, Ellie once she twigs to what's going on, and Native American witches defending their manitou. Unfortunately, Miki's surly brother, painter Donal, has made his own bargain with the Gentry. Meanwhile, an ice storm relentlessly pounds the city.
Splendid ideas and an intriguing plot marred by self-indulgent flab and gab: disappointing after top-notch work (Someplace to be Flying, 1998) last time out.