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The Onion Girl by God, er, I mean, Charles De Lint

Review by Jojo

De Lint's newest book takes us back to the city of Newford, a fictional metropolis that is one part Canadian, one part American, and 50 parts magic. As soon as I got my hands on this book I was at once both eager to begin and terrified.

The Onion Girl is a much eagerly awaited full length novel featuring Jilly Coppercorn. Jilly is something of an enigma to the world of Newford ~ she is impossibly cheery. She is admirable, someone to look up to. She'd go to the ends of the earth for a stranger - that's how much she cares about people. She sees magic everywhere, and shows the world what she sees through her wonderful artwork. I've been acquainted with her for years, had seen a bit of her past, saw how she touched everyone elses lives in this city... I was in awe of her. Getting to see her in her very own full length novel was going to be great! Having said novel start off with her being involved in a hit and run accident was going to be terribly, terribly... well, terrible.

I did not want to see Jilly hurt, but at least we get right into that...

The story itself is about Jilly's recovery, both physical and emotional. As a result of the accident, Jilly finds herself bedridden and partially paralyzed... and able to cross into de Lint's otherworld in her dreams. As taken she is with the mystical, mythical, and magical, such things have always escaped her. She's the sort who saw the fringes of magic, but wanted a more full-on experience, and suddenly she is having the full-on experience. It drives her injuries home a bit further, going from a walking, talking, fully mobile Jilly to a trapped Jilly, but it works. And we learn that as together as she is, over the past, she has a lot still left to deal with, to heal, and its requiring her attention as surely as her body is... especially when people from her past show up and force the issue.

Most of the characters are old faces, old friends or acquaintances, though there are a smattering of newbies.

My thoughts on the book: it is most definitely NOT a book for one to start with if one had never read de Lint's work before. Though the Onion Girl is not really a serial book (and therefore should be able to stand on its own) there is so much referencing to past instances and so many characters that are written about as if the reader already knows them, I could definitely see how this could be a disjointed read if this was the first de Lint book one had read. Specifically: one should have read Dreams Underfoot, The Ivory and the HOrn, and Moonlight and Vines before reading this one. These are were we get to know Jilly the most. Normally I am of the opinion that nonserial books should be able to stand on their own and if they do not it is a weakness, in this I am more than willing to make an exception. This is definitely a book written by De Lint for his fans. It was a book that many of us have been drooling over for years ~ not the book itself, but Jilly getting her own book. And one would get much more out of it if one read his other Newford books first.

I absolutely, absolutely, absolutely recommend it... I don't know if I would call it my favorite ~ it was just a really hard book to read. I think it was the hardest of his, emotionally, for me. But still very, very good.... :o) 5 Stars from me, naturally. :o)


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