To Ali and Frankie, the normal people in the story who have been untouched previously by supernatural experience or by violent crime, the fantastic elements and the gangsters that enter their lives are equally unreal; one belongs to magic and the other to B-films. The novel brings the worlds of fantasy and crime fiction together to shape the destinies of two ordinary, innocent people.
Ali, however, is not altogether ordinary, in that her inner fire and natural wisdom mark her as a person of importance to the mythic figures. That fire is shared, in a way, by Tony Valenti, who has behaved as a criminal all his life only because he was brought up within the “family.” Valenti rejects his criminal life but is forced to use the violent techniques he has learned against his Mafia enemies. Ali comes to embrace mythic values, though her actions conflict with her desire to share her mothers suffering life.
The mystery and its piping, representative of religion, are related closely to Pan and to Jesus. De Lint seems to suggest that religion does not change people but rather reflects human desires. Accordingly, the Hunt is presented as a Christian group that would crucify Jesus again; its members associate the Greenmantle figure with Satan. Ali has to distinguish between their narrow truth and the full truth she has learned. The piping turns the relatively harmless Lance Maxwell into a rutting stag. He is prepared even to kill his own beloved dog,...
(The entire section is 466 words.)