Greenmantle is relatively unusual in its combination of high pastoral myth and violent crime fiction. Charles de Lint often writes what might be called urban fantasy, but this novel is set primarily in or alongside a Canadian forest.
Frances (Frankie) Treasure has won a large lottery and has moved to a family home in the country with her fourteen-year-old daughter, Alice (Ali). Her former husband, Earl Shaw, a violent criminal who has worked with the Mafia, decides to take what money he can get from Frankie in order to finance a drug deal. Living next door to Frankie is a retired Mafia hitman, Tony Valenti, who is thought to be dead by everyone but a close older friend, Mario Papale.
In the neighboring forest is a mystery associated with a hidden village, New Wolding. The village pipers music sometimes calls to view a changeling figure, notably as a giant stag. Also in the woods is a secret, a wild girl called Maggy Mellan. People who hear the piping respond in various ways. A local man, Lance Maxwell, becomes violently lustful, but others seem nobler.
As the plot develops, various dangerous people threaten Frankie and Tony. Ali is in danger because Earl plans to use her to make ransom demands on Frankie. Meanwhile, Ali and Frankie become close friends of Tony. Ali develops a strong interest in the strange forest magic, forming a friendship with Maggy. She also becomes friends with a pair of people in New Wolding, the...
(The entire section is 406 words.)