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Newford 11 - The Onion Girl by Charles de…
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Newford 11 - The Onion Girl (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Charles de Lint

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,538394,777 (4)1 / 65
Member:drachenbraut23
Title:Newford 11 - The Onion Girl
Authors:Charles de Lint
Info:Tor Books (2002), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 512 pages
Collections:Your library, Audiobooks, 2012
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Urban Fantasy

Work details

The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint (2001)

  1. 10
    Dreams Underfoot: The Newford Collection by Charles de Lint (weeksj10)
    weeksj10: Onion Girl is an awesome story, but I would suggest you read this collection of short stories before reading the novel, because there are tons of references to Dreams Underfoot that you won't understand if you go straight to Onion Girl
  2. 10
    Widdershins by Charles de Lint (Kerian)
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Jilly is struck by a car and becomes paralyzed on her right side. She discovers she can dream herself to the spirit world like her friend Sophie has long known how to do. Her physical body remains in the hospital bed while a dream version of herself, young and not paralyzed, traverses the spirit world. There she meets her friend Joe Crazy Dog, who can travel to the spirit world while awake. He tells her he has sent for a pair of "crow" girls who might be able to cure her condition, but only after she deals with emotional wounds from her past.

Somebody breaks into Jilly's studio and destroys many of her paintings. Her friends keep seeing on the streets a woman who looks just like Jilly. They wonder if a shadow twin might be behind both Jilly's "accident" and the vandalism.

Jilly meets in the dreamlands a young man named Toby. He is an Eadar--a fictional character who acquires a physical presence in the spirit world, but whose existence depends on there being people who believe in him. Together they spend several nights climbing a big tree to get some magical twigs that may help both of them.

In flashbacks, the book gradually reveals details of Jilly's past. As a child, she was repeatedly raped by her brother Del. She finally ran away from home and by her teens was a junkie and prostitute living on the streets, until a kind cop named Lou rescued and rehabilitated her.

Back at Jilly's former home, Del turned his attention to her younger sister Raylene, who never forgave Jilly for abandoning her. Raylene finally stabbed Del and ran away with her best friend Pinky. To make money, they performed badger games and ended up killing a dirty cop. Pinky eventually became a pornstar, while Raylene started working in a print shop. There she fell in love with one of her coworkers, who taught her how to use computers, but finally died in a shootout. Pinky served several years in prison for assault, and during that time she and Raylene began having shared dreams in which they were wolves hunting unicorns.

Raylene found out her sister's whereabouts from an article. On the day of Pinky's release, Raylene bought a pink Cadillac and the two of them rode off in search of Jilly. That's when Raylene destroyed Jilly's paintings, and continued to stalk her.

In the hospital, Jilly and Sophie discover that they can share their dreams as well, and when they find themselves in a forest, they encounter a pack of wolves, one of whom Jilly recognizes as her sister. She realizes that Raylene must be the lookalike who destroyed her paintings.

Raylene is upset that Jilly has now invaded her dreams. She wants to find a way into the dreamlands while awake, so that she can avenge Jilly there. She sees Joe on the street and recognizes him from his Don't! Buy! Thai! T-shirt as he slips into the spirit world. By watching him, she figures out how to enter the spirit world herself. She and Pinky kidnap the sleeping Jilly and carry her body into the spirit world.

The dreaming version of Jilly has reached the top of the tree and found the twigs, which have made Toby no longer an Eadar, but which have no effect on Jilly's condition. But because Jilly's physical body has entered the dreamlands, she feels pulled toward it, and she must climb down the tree to reach it.

When she reaches Raylene, they begin talking. Raylene realizes how silly it is to hold a grudge against her sister for something she did when she was a kid just trying to survive. Unfettered, Pinky points her gun at Jilly and fires--but Raylene places herself in the line of fire and dies. Joe arrives at that moment with a pitbull, which kills Pinky.

Toby reaches the clearing with a wreath of the twigs, now powerful enough to cure Jilly's paralysis. Jilly instead uses it to bring Raylene back to life. Because Raylene killed all those unicorns, she must never return to the dreamlands, or else Joe's friends will hunt her down. The crow girls visit Jilly and tell her that they cannot cure her condition, but they give her feathers so that she can call them anytime she wants.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
The problem with De Lint is he's just not nearly as imaginative as he thinks he is. His "flights of fancy" are flat and derivative at best. Even worse, in my mind; he can't write believable dialog, friendships, or young people. At all. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
I found this entry in the Newford series a bit hard to take at times as it dealt with adult survivors of childhood abuse. At the heart of the novel is the difficulty abuse victims have in coming to terms with what happened to them, regardless of how well they might appear to be doing from the outside. ( )
  leslie.98 | Sep 9, 2015 |
I stumbled onto this book by accident and read it before I started the rest of the Newford series. I recommend reading these books in order so that you know what's going on, as The Onion Girl makes many references to previous works in the Newford series. That being said, the book is so well-written that it didn't bother me that I didn't always get the references. It is beautiful, a sort of novelized daydream experience, the likes of which are hard to find. Also, as a twenty-something who grew up on fantasy, I loved the idea of adults still having a fantasy world to look forward to, as the Newford series is all-inclusive and makes being a grownup feel just as magical as being a kid. ( )
  WritingHaiku | Jul 28, 2015 |
Note – deals with themes of child abuse and molestation. Know this going in.

For whatever reason, this one didn’t connect with me. I don’t have any specific reasons why. If I had to guess, I’d say maybe I prefer an external plot to an internal one? It also felt like while a lot was being built up, the action never really materialized.

The Onion Girl was my first book by Charles De Lint. I’ve read short stories by him which I’ve enjoyed, and I’ve been tangentially aware that he’s got a fantasy series of stories and books set in a city called Newford and a connecting dream land, but I’ve never actually read any before now. For those interested, I think you could pick up The Onion Girl without having read any of the other books. I completely understood the plot, although at times I could tell that there were references to other characters and stories that I hadn’t read.

I picked up The Onion Girl after ditching a badly written book. I wanted some good writing, and I thought Charles De Lint would carry through. He certainly did. The best quality of The Onion Girl is the writing by far. It’s excellently written and at times gorgeous, which is probably why I liked the setting as much as I did. Towering cathedral forests? Count me in.

But just as I never connected with the book as a whole, I never connected with the characters, which is essential for me to like a book. I felt like I should have liked Jilly. She’s an artist who’s still recovering from a terrible childhood but is always determined to stay as cheerful as she can and help other people. Possibly she was just too wonderful and artsy? Some of the characters in the book did faintly remind me of a few of the wackier art teachers that I’ve had.

I would suggest The Onion Girl, even though I didn’t like it personally. I don’t think there’s any over whelming flaws with the book itself, so if it interests you and you’re looking for lyrically written, dream like urban fantasy, you should consider giving it (or presumably one of the other Newford books) a try.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Sep 27, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles de Lintprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reading, KateNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dringenberg, Mikesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Windling, TerriEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
They (fairy tales) make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water.
--G.K. Chesterton, from Orthodoxy
It was you, it was you, who said that dreams come true
And it was you, it was you, who said that mine would, too
And it was you who said that all I had to do was to believe
But when your ivory towers tumbled down, they tumbled down on me
--Fred Eaglesmith, from "It Was You"
It's the family you choose that counts.
--Andrew Vachss
Dedication
for all of those who against all odds made the right choice
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765303817, Paperback)

In novel after novel, and story after story, Charles de Lint has brought an entire imaginary North American city to vivid life. Newford: where magic lights dark streets; where myths walk clothed in modern shapes; where a broad cast of extraordinary and affecting people work to keep the whole world turning.

At the center of all the entwined lives in Newford stands a young artist named Jilly Coppercorn, with her tangled hair, her paint-splattered jeans, a smile perpetually on her lips--Jilly, whose paintings capture the hidden beings that dwell in the city's shadows. Now, at last, de Lint tells Jilly's own story...for behind the painter's fey charm lies a dark secret and a past she's labored to forget. And that past is coming to claim her now.

"I'm the onion girl," Jilly Coppercorn says. "Pull back the layers of my life, and you won't find anything at the core. Just a broken child. A hollow girl." She's very, very good at running. But life has just forced Jilly to stop.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:21 -0400)

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"Charles de Lint has brought an entire imaginary North American city to vivid life, Newford: where magic lights dark streets; where myths walk clothed in modern shapes; where humans and older beings must work to keep the whole world turning." "He has peopled this city with extraordinary characters - people like Joseph Crazy Dog, also known as Bones, the trickster who walks in two worlds at once; Sophie, born with magic in the blood, whose boyfriend dwells in the otherworld of dreams; Angel, who runs a center for street people and lives up to her name; Geordie, creating enchantment with his fiddle; Christy, collecting stories in the streets; the Crow Girls, wild and elusive; and many, many more." "At the center of these entwined lives stands a young artist named Jilly Coppercorn, whose paintings capture the hidden beings that dwell in Newford's shadows. Jilly has been a central part of the street scene since de Lint's very first stories. With her tangled hair, her paint-splattered jeans, a smile perpetually on her lips, she's darted in and out of the Newford tales. Now, at last, we have Jilly's own story, and it's a powerful one indeed...for behind the painter's fey charm there's a dark secret, and a past she's labored to forget. And that past is coming to claim her now, threatening all she loves." ""I'm the onion girl, " Jilly Coppercorn says. "Pull back the layers of my life, and you won't find anything at the core. Just a broken child. A hollow girl." She's run from the past and the truth for so long. She's very good at running. But life has just forced Jilly to stop."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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