Our tale begins in Newford with the main character, Jilly Coppercorn, becoming a victim of a hit-and-run. Lying in a hospital bed, confused and paralyzed, she escapes to the world of dreams. "The Onion Girl" takes you on one hell of a ride, as it's told from the eyes of Jilly, and her younger sister, Raylene. Having run away from a life of abuse and pain at a young age, and leaving Raylene to suffer as she once did, Jilly begins to regret not going back now that Raylene has resurfaced in her life.
Two sisters - one dream world. One doesn't want to share it, and is determined to go to extremes to ensure that it belongs to her alone. The other just wants to know the baby sister she left behind.
Charles de Lint has done an amazing job with "The Onion Girl," and it is a favorite of mine due to the way he writes, and describes things. Things get slow here and there, but the intensity of Jilly's story makes it worth the slow spots. Definitely worth 5 stars.
Its okay that some bad things happen to Jilly - she's a survivor, after all, and some great things happen to her, too. But the sudden apperance of a long-lost sister with a monster grudge is a little... convenient, isn't it? This wholly new side to Jilly's story leaves the reader feeling just a little jerked around.
The novel's a bit schizophrenic, too, the way we vault back and forth between the disconnected sisters, and forward and backward and sideways in time. Then, when at last the story is twined together, it... kinda sucks.
If you're a de Lint fan, and a fan of Newford, you really shouldn't miss this book. Everybody in Newford is affected by what affects Jilly, and so everyone's story is advanced and changed by this book. Just don't expect one of his best, or you're in for a sad disappointment.
If you're new to the Charles de Lint oevre, please don't start with Onion Girl. Really, he's written much, much better stuff. Try Forests of the Heart for a fantastic novel also set in Newford, or dive in to his short story collection, starting with Dreams Underfoot.
I loved this book and couldn't put it down, but I ended up having mixed feelings about it when I was done. On the one hand, DeLint's writing was a beautiful as ever, his depictions of the joys and terrors of the Otherworld as richly realised, his characters as real and his forthright pictures of some very ugly human experiences as affecting.
On the other hand, there are certain things I found a bit off. The cast of characters is SO enormous -- at times it seems that everyone who's ever appeared in a Newford story shows up at some time or another -- that it's a little hard to keep track of; I certainly wouldn't recommend reading this book unless you've at least read one or two of DeLint's short story anthologies. Towards the end, the message got just a little overbearing. At the same time, I didn't like the implication that only magic could really heal Jilly; I would have liked to see her take some real world steps to deal with her baggage. Maybe deciding to get therapy isn't magical, but I really think she could use it.
I did like that everything between Jilly and her "nemesis" wasn't completely resolved and that there was still some tension between them at the end. I also liked the fact that this ending wasn't a happy-ever-after kind of thing--that people underwent irreversable changes.Read more ›