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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on November 20, 2001
I've always enjoyed deLint's Newford books because there was always a feeling of community to them. Events that happened in previous books were referred to at least in passing, and usually in such a way that you didn't miss anything even if this was your first Newford novel. I didn't get that feeling reading Onion Girl. It referred to too much, leaving me feel not only like I was missing something, but that I was missing my motivation to be interested. There was such a strong sense that so much had come before, but very little to explain, so I had no real introduction to the characters. Too much was assumed. Sophie and Jeck? Who? Wendy? Angel & Joe? Hunh? Did I miss something? I've read his short story collections and I can't remember a one of them.
Of course, it doesn't help that of all the characters in Newford, I've never been especially interested in Jilly Coppercorn, the focus of this book. From the first, she's struck me as a cipher: a happy-go-lucky artist who believes in everything in a magical city and rarely ever has a bad day and de Lint's later attempts to flesh her out with an overwhelmingly dark history have always felt heavy handed. It has, in fact, been no small relief that his more recent works haven't involved this character. This obviously isn't the case this time around.
In the end, I can't help but feel that this is a collection of his "greatest bits" put together with great force into a medley. Spirit world? Check. Animal people and fairies? Check. Lost sister? Check. Jilly? Check. Great danger? Oh yeah. Skeptic who reluctantly comes to believe in magic? Check. Heck, even the Crow Girls have a cameo. After a while it feels less like an original novel and more like a collage of moments woven together mostly to reward long-time fans and that's very disappointing.
Check it out from a library if you're curious, I doubt I'll be in any great rush to reread it, let alone buy it for myself at any point in the future.
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