- Fizzy Thoughts: The Onion Girl

The Onion Girl

Monday, June 22, 2009


The Onion Girl
Charles de Lint
August 2002
512 pages

From Publishers Weekly:
Life is truly an act of magic in Canadian author de Lint's triumphant return to Newford, his fictitious North American city, with its fascinating blend of urban faerie and dreamworld adventures. When Jilly Coppercorn becomes a victim of a hit-and-run driver, her happy life as a popular Newford artist comes to a screeching halt. Half of her body, including her painting hand, no longer works properly, and the prospect of a long recovery, despite supportive friends, depresses her. Her dreams - the only escape she enjoys - connect her to friend Sophie's dreamland of Mabon. Another friend, of otherworldly origin, Joe Crazy Dog, calls it manido-aki, a place where magic dwells amid mythic creatures and e-landscapes far away from the World As It Is. Joe also knows that's where Jilly must heal what has broken inside herself to speed recovery of her physical body. Complications ensue when her friends discover that someone broke into the artist's apartment after the accident and destroyed her famous faerie paintings. De Lint introduces yet another intriguing character, the raunchy, wild and furious Raylene, as dark as Jilly is light, who deepens the mystery. Is she Jilly's shadow self, or a connection to a past Jilly would rather forget? This crazy-quilt fantasy moves from the outer to the inner world with amazing ease and should satisfy new and old fans of this prolific and gifted storyteller, whose ability to peel away layers of story could earn him the title "The Onion Man."

Go here to check out my previous thoughts on de Lint. Then, if you feel like it, go read this post to find out why people are asking me questions about The Onion Girl.

Bart’s Bookshelf asked “I've read and enjoyed (but not loved) a couple of De Lints, is this one, the one that might fully convert me to the De Lint cause?”

Hmmm, sorry to dash your hopes, but I don’t think so. But then, I'm not exactly an expert on de Lint. I started with Dreams Underfoot. Have you read that one? It’s a collection of interwoven short stories, and I absolutely loved it. Then I read The Onion Girl, which I found interesting, but a bit long. And finally, I never finished Widdershins, another of his novels. So while I still love de Lint’s work, I think I do better with his short stories.

And Heidenkind wonders, “Okay, Onion Girl--do you need to read de Lint's other books to enjoy that? Because I tried to read it a while ago and I was just totally lost. Then I was talking to someone else about it (who really loved it), and she said I need to read all of de Lint's short stories in order to get it.”

I can see why you would be totally lost if that was your first attempt at de Lint. As I just mentioned in response to Bart (whose name isn’t really Bart, but whose real name escapes me at the moment), I started with Dreams Underfoot. After that I read The Onion Girl, and I did just fine. I’m sure I missed a few things because I haven’t read ALL of his short stories (and there are a lot of ‘em), but oh, well

If I were to pick up another de Lint book, I’d gravitate to his short stories. While I’m not usually a fan of short stories, there’s just something about his writing (and my reading his writing) that lends itself to that particular format. At least in my opinion. What do the rest of you de Lint fans think?

5 comment(s):

Vasilly said...

I've heard so many things about The Onion Girl. I will put Dreams Underfoot on my TBR list. I'll use it as my starting point for De Lint.

heidenkind said...

I may have to pick up some of his short stories, then. Either Dreams Underfoot or something else.

Thanks! :)

Nymeth said...

This was my first Newford book, and I was pretty lost. I definitely wouldn't recommend it as a starting point.

Joanne said...

I'm compulsively anal about reading series' in order - and for Newford I've discovered Dreams Underfoot should be first. So it's awesome to hear you loved that one!

Terri B. said...

Well, I've only read one de Lint so far and it was "Dreams Underfoot" which is a collection of short stories (loosely related). I am not a particular fan of the short story but I was totally sucked into these stories and plan on reading the whole thing again someday.

I think that reading "Dreams Underfoot" first was a happy accident on my part. I felt like it was a fabulous introduction to what I believe he will continue. Never felt lost with the characters, places or stories.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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