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5.0 out of 5 stars A personal favorite!
I stumbled across this book in my local library, and it was the title that caught my attention more than anything. Charles de Lint is a new author to me, and with his writing has opened up a whole new world of magick and intrigue.
Our tale begins in Newford with the main character, Jilly Coppercorn, becoming a victim of a hit-and-run. Lying in a hospital bed,...
Published on March 1 2004 by Shannon Haskins

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A great fulfillment, a sad disappointment -
Fans of Charles de Lint's voluminous stories of Newford all know and love Jilly Coppercorn. Here, at last, is a novel about Jilly. I was so excited, I scraped together some emergency money and bought it in hardback! A great fulfillment for all of us true blue fans, to learn more and spend time with this charming, magical artist and Friend to All.
Its okay that some...
Published on Feb. 29 2004 by EmBee


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5.0 out of 5 stars A personal favorite!, March 1 2004
By 
Shannon Haskins "Kirei Rakuen" (Coupeville, Washington) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Onion Girl (Paperback)
I stumbled across this book in my local library, and it was the title that caught my attention more than anything. Charles de Lint is a new author to me, and with his writing has opened up a whole new world of magick and intrigue.
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A great fulfillment, a sad disappointment -, Feb. 29 2004
By 
EmBee (Oregon, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Onion Girl (Paperback)
Fans of Charles de Lint's voluminous stories of Newford all know and love Jilly Coppercorn. Here, at last, is a novel about Jilly. I was so excited, I scraped together some emergency money and bought it in hardback! A great fulfillment for all of us true blue fans, to learn more and spend time with this charming, magical artist and Friend to All.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars If You Know Newford..., Sept. 4 2003
By 
wysewomon "wysewomon" (Paonia, CO United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Onion Girl (Paperback)
In _The Onion Girl_, Newford artist Jilly Coppercorn suffers a devastating personal tragedy that forces her to re-evaluate her life and face things in her past that she'd rather not. As she is virtually the glue that holds Newford together, she is aided by a mind-boggling cast of characters, both this-worldly and otherworldly.
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.
I didn't like that one character who could have been really interesting seemed to exist merely to deliver a heavy-handed message about standing up to bullies, which I think the book delivered effectively elsewhere. It seemed a waste of a character and brought up certain questions that were not answered to my satisfaction.
Probably if you're a DeLint fan already you'll like this book. If you haven't read anything by this fine writer, don't start here or you'll be lost.
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5.0 out of 5 stars New fantasy fan falls for DeLint!, Jan. 8 2003
By 
This review is from: The Onion Girl (Hardcover)
I stumbled upon Charles DeLint's "The Onion Girl" while doing some research on fantasy books for a college project. Being new to the genre, and reluctant to read fantasy, I had no idea what to read. The book's title and the cover art by John Jude Palencar enticed me, and once I started the book, I could not put it down.
The story's main character, Jilly Coppercorn, is struggling to heal from an accident. The circumstances that lead to her accident are shrouded in mystery, leaving her to find the clues and piece them together, a difficult task when one's bones are broken. Lying in her hospital bed, she learns to "cross over" into another world she has only heard of. Jilly experiences a catharsis as a result of her other wordly adventures, and she makes a surprising choice that heals her body and soul.
DeLint's prose is inspiring, as his descriptions make the natural supernatural, and the extraordinary accessible to us mere mortals. His blend of urban streets, the wilderness, and dreamscape create a seamless trip through dimensions. The characters are quite likeable, and are varied in personality, from policeman to artist to shapeshifter.
"The Onion Girl" quieted any preconceptions I had about fantasy writing, and I would recommend this book highly to those who are curious about the genre, but don't know where to start.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Suicidally Depressing, July 30 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Onion Girl (Hardcover)
First, you must understand that I am a serious Charles De Lint fan. I go out of my way to rummage through every dusty bookshop I can find for original copies, and have a special shelf just for my little treasures. Mr. De Lint's tales have supported me through some very difficult times, and brought me much joy.
That said, I must say that if you are a recovering victim of abuse - Please - STAY AWAY. This book brought back all the horrible things I lived through, ripping away all the old scabs and exposing all the wounds. Nothing was gained other than those well remembered sleepless nights and wrenching panic attacks, wondering what was just around the corner, and when the horror would begin again. I am starting to pack it away again, but it will be a long, painful process, with no good to show from it.
I don't know what twisted idea reached into his soul, but I don't think I will ever receive the same joy from one of the Newford tales ever again after reading this book.... and that is much sadder than you will ever know....
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4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it...but not as much as others, Jan. 30 2002
By 
Elizabeth Howard "literary crone" (Apple Valley, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Onion Girl (Hardcover)
I am a fan of Charles de Lint and can't imagine actively disliking anything he writes, but I have to admit that this is not my favorite de Lint novel. Jilly Coppercorn has long been one of my favorite de Lint characters, but in The Onion Girl, de Lint tells me more than I wanted to know about Jilly. The magical veil is somehow ripped away, and I am face-to-face with a character I maybe don't like as much as I thought I did.
And, speaking of characters, there is an almost dizzying array of them and there were times when I had trouble keeping score. I didn't feel as though I got to know any of them in this novel -- there simply wasn't enough space for anyone in this pantheon to fully develop. I think that the lack of character development contributed to a sense of disbelief and some real confusion about the actions of some of the characters, especially Wendy and Raylene.
In spite of all of this, I did enjoy the book and I remain an avid fan of Charles de Lint, all of his people - fairie and otherwise -- and all of his worlds!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly disappointing (this review contains spoilers!), Dec 29 2001
By 
Sophia (the Pacific Northwest) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Onion Girl (Hardcover)
I usually love Charles De Lint's writing, and when I heard he was writing a book about Jilly Coppercorn's story, I was thrilled. What a letdown. His writing is still beautiful, although without the usual sense of magic and a bit more heavy-handed, hence the two stars, rather than one. In other novels, such as "Memory and Dream", magic blends more seamlessly into the story, in this book, the Dreamlands sequence seemed very either-or. I also think there were too many characters. It was hard for any one of them to develop - it almost seemed cluttered.
As one reviewer has already stated, I didn't buy Raylene's transformation, either - she's depicted as this ice-cold, half-insane killing machine, and all of sudden, she *stops*, and sacrifices herself for Jilly? It seems incredibly implausible. Also, for several books, De Lint has been teasing us with the possibility of a relationship between Jilly and Christie, and then demolishes that possibility with Daniel, who really appears more like a cardboard cutout. And where did Sophie's sudden reluctance to take Faerie seriously come from, let alone all of Wendy's doubts? Finally, the ending felt very incomplete and tacked on - he was working toward this major climax, and then undercut it. I hope I like Charles De Lint's next book better, because I found this one very disappointing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars At last, Jilly's story...., Dec 28 2001
By 
This review is from: The Onion Girl (Hardcover)
Jilly Coppercorn has always been my favorite of de Lint's characters. She's a guidepost for others, weaving in and out of his Newford-based stories. While her history has been hinted at before, this book brings to light the true horror of her past as well as her attempts to reconcile past with present. I think it's important that the author reminds us of the children "left behind"--perhaps it bothered him that Jilly's sister's story had been left untold for so long.
This book is definitely my new favorite full-length by de Lint (I've always favored his short stories). But at the same time, it's heartbreaking to see Jilly in this situation---I have mixed feelings about the book because it strips her of some of her mystery and dignity.
While it does feel a bit heavy-handed or contrived at times (hence 4 stars instead of 5), it's truly a great story about "unpeeling" the layers of yourself to find strength within. I think that we will see Jilly begin to bounce back with some of her old magic---I read the recent Christmas story CDL posted online and was pleased to see her make an appearance! A definite must for the de Lint fans; for newcomers, read the short stories first and fall in love with Jilly before you plunge into this saga.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Heavy-handed with a dash of "been there, done that", Dec 19 2001
This review is from: The Onion Girl (Hardcover)
After I finished "The Onion Girl" last night, I sat there feeling vaguely dissatisfied and tried to figure out why. I think it all comes down to what some other reviewers have pointed out: we've seen this before - numerous times and handled better than this.
DeLint's earlier books had a sense of wonder and delicacy both in his writing and in his portrayals of characters and Dreamlands/Otherlands. As you read, it felt as if the magical place he was talking about was not only real but that it could be fragile as well; it *was* real but only as long as you believed and DeLint was very good at making us believe. With this book, however, I didn't feel drawn in - more like bludgeoned. It reads along the lines of "You will believe in Newford and in the Dreamlands because I say so."
Characters in this book are not there so much to show as to tell which tends to rob the book of much of its possible emotion. We're told how wonderful Jilly is, we're told how much her friends are frightened for her or pulling for her to get better, but we're never shown it. We're surrounded by all these people who have supposedly pulled themselves up by their bootstraps or dealt with hard things in life but everyone reads the same regardless of their prior experiences. Wendy, positioned as a character with a normal (read: non-abusive) childhood, comes across no differently than Jilly or Sophie. We're told she has a hard time relating to the childhood Jilly experienced but it comes across like a line in a script read by an extremely poor actress. There is nothing to back up what we're being told to feel. Everyone is the same flat character with different names.
Raylene's "transformation" rings hollow. Her motivation in this story has essentially been payback. She's face to face with the person, has the means and the method, and she suddenly decides not to? And in such a way that intimates some noble self-sacrifice when, all through the book, we're given example after example about how she's out for what she can get for herself? There is nothing that points to this completely unbelievable change of heart except perhaps DeLint wanted a happy (or happier) ending after "Forests of the Heart".
The Newford books seem to be becoming more about DeLint's personal likes/dislikes/agenda than him setting the characters down and letting them tell the story. We're treated to page after page of a character or characters wandering around in Native American or Celtic myths/stories/dreamlands and these scenes read as a too-long "Let me show all the things I know about this culture" rather than as vital to the story. In addition, although normally I like seeing the little snippets regarding music and musicians in his book, there is one paragraph regarding a band that comes in completely from left field and seems designed simply to advertise friends of DeLint's and nothing more.
Overall, I felt the book fell flat on its face with its themes. What could have been an exploration of the meaning of family, how/if the events of the past color the future, child abuse, et cetera, were drowned out by DeLint and his Anvil Chorus. Between the coy phrasing of abuse victims as "Children of the Secret" and Jilly's apparent canonization, there is nothing real about this book or Jilly's and Raylene's experiences to hang onto. Instead, we're treated to a really long hurt/comfort fanfic.
At one point, a character says something to the effect of "children are our most precious resource". While true, it reads as the author needing to make sure we get that point and providing it via anvilicious methods. We. Get. It. Charles.
Will I read another DeLint book? Possibly - I'll at least give him one more chance. However, I definitely won't be buying it in hardback. I'll content myself with my copies of "Jack of Kinrowan" and "Trader" until his next book comes out in paperback. If his next book is the same as "The Onion Girl", I''ll sadly clear his books off my shelf and go in search of a new author who can make me feel the way DeLint used to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another great DeLint novel!, Dec 11 2001
This review is from: The Onion Girl (Hardcover)
Ok, I'm a big fan, I admit it. Starting with Moonheart, many years ago, DeLint's books never lose their fascination for me. The stark reality of the life on the streets blends with spirit world in that compelling and fascinating way of his.
Jilly Coppercorn has always been one of my favorite characters. She reminds me of a few of the wounded souls I know - lost children, indeed... it always amazes me that Charles DeLint, a man, can portray these women with such reality. It is not a spoiler to tell you that this book is about Jilly; we get to know her better than ever before, and to admire her strength.
I am not sure if I have read everything he has written, but I have certainly come close. This is one I will certainly read over again. Many of the people we have come to know over the years have at least a cameo. The tension and uncertainty of what will happen will keep you glued to the book, although I made myself come up for air a few times...just to make it last longer.
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The Onion Girl
The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint (Hardcover - April 1 2009)
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