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The Onion Girl (Gollancz) by Charles De Lint

The Onion Girl (Gollancz) (original 2001; edition 2004)

by Charles De Lint

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1,659426,452 (4.02)1 / 79
Title:The Onion Girl (Gollancz)
Authors:Charles De Lint
Info:Gollancz (2004), Paperback, 508 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint (2001)

  1. 10
    Dreams Underfoot: A 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 (Newford) by Charles de Lint (Kerian)

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Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
This book had the potential to be truly enchanting. Unfortunately, despite having some beautiful imagery, it was clunky, the many many characters were not authentic or believable, and the dark subject matter was not overcome by the escapism that fantasy worlds are supposed to offer. I didn't feel the plot had a solid direction, and felt more like a sub plot than an actual story arc.
If I hadn't read De Lint before, I would have been very confused by the large, and mostly unexplained, cast of characters. Many of his other stories are interwoven with this one, but it was not satisfying for me, despite being a little nostalgic.
The world that De Lint creates is beautiful, as I said. It's vivid and full of magic. But that's only one part of a story. A novel needs a solid direction, and this one simply didn't have it. I'm sad to give this novel three stars, because the world building deserves a five. ( )
  lhofer | Sep 26, 2018 |
(De Lint has given a lot of attention, in his Newford stories, to the subject of child abuse; be warned that sexual abuse of young children is front and center in this book. It is not, however, excessively graphic.) Onion Girl is another of de Lint's urban fantasies set in the mythical Canadian city of Newford, this one focussing on the life and traumas of the normally irrepressibly cheerful Jilly Coppercorn.

On the opening page, Jilly is hit by a car, and lands in the hospital with a broken arm and leg, and no sensation at all on the right side of her body. While she's still in a coma, someone breaks into her apartment and quite thoroughly destroys all of her paintings of urban faerie--leaving all her non-faerie paintings untouched. This is clearly someone who knows Jilly well, and hates her. But who could hate Jilly that much? And when Jilly wakes from her coma, her friends' worries are not lessened; the irrepressible Jilly is now able to visit the dreamlands, Manido-Aki, Faerie, in her dreams, and seems uninterested in physical recovery in her crippled body, with the possibility of never being able to walk, or paint, again.

One of Jilly's friends, Joe Crazy Dog, visits Manido-Aki looking for help for Jilly, and discovers there's trouble afoot there, too: a pack of wolves, led by a wolf-bitch who's clearly a human dream er, is hunting and killing unicorns, for the pure joy of killing them and drinking their blood. This is both bad in itself, and an affront to the canids (like Joe, and Whiskey Jack, who's with him when they briefly meet the wolf-pack), because the killers are wearing canid form while they kill.

Who's the human dreamer masquerading as a wolf in the dreamlands and leading the killer pack? Who's the mysterious Jilly-double that her friends Isabelle and Sophie see in the neighborhood near Jilly's apartment? Why does Cassie sense a presence like that seems to be Jilly's dark twin?

The answers to these and other important questions lie, of course, in Jilly's past, and much of the story unfolds in flashbacks told by Jilly and by Raylene, whom we gradually realize is Jilly's younger sister. As the layers of their story are pealed away, both Jilly and Raylene start to come to grips with their past.

De Lint's an excellent writer, and I find it easy to get lost in his world. I recommend this latest installment, with the caveat that I didn't even consider reading it a year ago, right after reading a couple of other Newford books in rapid succession. I needed some separation, in order to appreciate this book on its own, rather than as too much of more of the same. It's a dark story with an upbeat but by no means light-hearted ending. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
I adored this work of art! Yeah I said it, work of art!
Though it does need a trigger warning, there is child rape involved here. Its not gone into detail but it is just enough to upset someone who hasn't been forewarned.
Damn, this story was just simply fascinating, much attention was given to every single little detail.
You are drawn right into this world and you will find yourself caring deeply about the characters and their well being. There is a ton of drama, damn there really is a ton of tragedy.
I do have to mention I rolled my eyes when it came to the character names like: Jilly? Sophie? And they all seemed to have the common running theme with a little "damsel in distress" going on, until the "BIG BAD MEN" come around to save the day... HA, please spare me. But I am not your ordinary girly girl, LOL. I love women characters when they are FIERCE and unbreakable with barely any softness under their hard shells. I want them to come in and kick asses all over the place. Then maybe I can identify with them better. Well, Save that analysis for a psychiatrist's couch. I still enjoyed the book, soft feminine women included. I wont knock any stars off for my personal taste preferences, it was a solid 5 GOLDEN stars.
I really REALLY enjoyed the surrealistic "dream world" and occasionally find myself fantasizing about visiting there myself... I have my own surrealistic dreaming world but mine is filled with nightmares.
Dear kind sir Lint, I will be reading more of your stories. Thank you for sharing your beautiful world with all of us. I know just the right sort of person to recommend this to. ( )
  XoVictoryXo | May 31, 2016 |
One of the urban fantasy master's very best. Made me want to cheer! ( )
  KerryAlanDenney | May 18, 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 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles de Lintprimary authorall editionscalculated
Reading, KateNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dringenberg, MikeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Windling, TerriEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
for all of those who against all odds made the right choice
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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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