Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Onion Girl” as Want to Read:
The Onion Girl
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Onion Girl (Newford #8)

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,161 Ratings  ·  344 Reviews
"I'm the onion girl," Jilly Coppercorn insists. "Pull back the layers of my life, and you won't find anything at the core. Just a broken child. A hollow girl." But just like an onion, the story of Jilly Coppercorn lures us into its mysteries; its colorful coils of insistent elaboration; its pull into its deepest, self-apparent secret.
MP3 Book, 0 pages
Published December 1st 2008 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (first published 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Onion Girl, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Lori One of my favorite books and author. very literary but so, so creative and brings life lessons we can all relate to.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
David Katzman
Aug 08, 2012 David Katzman rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of de Lint
This isn’t a fantasy novel because it takes place half on Earth and half in a Spirit World that exists as a backdrop to all of reality. This isn’t a fantasy novel because it features wolf-headed, shape-shifting original people and crow girls. No, this isn’t a fantasy novel because there are fairies and Native American Earth spirits who share their wisdom. This is a fantasy novel because most of the characters in the story give a shit about each other.

That’s right. Pretty far-fetched, huh? de Lin
Aug 22, 2007 cindy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: idiots and those trapped in the realm of faerie
Shelves: abandoned
Once upon a time...
Once upon a time...
Once upon a time...

What a clunker. I heard from the rest of the bookclub ladies that it wasn't great, but I was willing to give it a chance. Mistake.

I made it to page 49 and refused to proceed any further after reading this dreck:

"I believe in a different kind of magic," Sophie said. "The kind we make between each other. The kind that comes from our art and how it can change us. The world doesn't need any more than that."

Ugh. Irritating FruitCakey Artistes w
Nov 18, 2008 indiefishsteak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing book that I did not want to let go of once I started the first paragraph. The story of Jilly, her incapacitating accident, healing old wounds, and adventures in the otherworld (or dreamland or whatever you prefer), of course. Unforgettable characters that question what it means to be bad or good and what causes those circumstances.

Be warned though that this book deals pretty heavily with sexual abuse/molestation and difficult backgrounds including homelessness, violence, and prostitut
This is the book where Charles de Lint delves into the history of everyones favorite character: Jilly Coppercorn. It goes into how she came to be the person she is, and the catalyst that forces her to come to terms with her past. We find "magical-so-open-minded-her-brain-may-fall-out" Jilly has an unfortunate past that is echoed in many womens lives. The book also weaves together the colorful collection of characters de Lint has created over the years in his Newford short stories.

I prefer de Li
Chantal Boudreau
As I’ve mentioned before, while I’m a fantasy fan, I am very much a selective fantasy fan. Mr. De Lint is one of those fantasy authors – in his case urban fantasy – whom I have read before and I will definitely read again. There is a solid dose of realism to his fantasy fiction, the type of gritty biting edge, in places, that I adore. His characters are far from perfect (as characters should be in order for me to be able to relate to them), they go through great struggles and pain and they don’t ...more
Oct 13, 2008 Jeanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
I was actually rather disappointed in this book. I'd had so many people tell me I just HAD to read Charles deLint if I was interested in Urban Fantasy. This was the first book I've read by him and although it hooked me right in the first paragraph, it became quite bogged down and getting through to the end took sheer effort for me. Where he really lost me was in the middle where he gets far too pedantic and preachy. I read fantasy to escape, not to be lectured. If this is what Urban Fantasy is a ...more
Jul 10, 2008 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of fantasy or surrealism; people interested in magic and native/indigenous folklore/traditions
Shelves: fantasy
Charles de Lint is the Man of urban fantasy writers. I really appreciate and respect his ability as a middle-aged man to return to a place of youth and wonder, as well as inhabit and develop female characters. It is impossible to not love Jilly Coppercorn. Her sister, Raylene, at first monstrous, is also supercool. De Lint eases the reader into empathy for her and and understanding of the roots of her violent, alienating, and callous ways. Joe Crazy Dog and his friends are pretty much bad asses ...more
Heather G Gentle
Oct 12, 2008 Heather G Gentle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was entirely bizarre but in a good way. It's a little hard to follow at the beginning going between worlds and several different view points but once I got used to that I really enjoyed it. Raylene's narrative was tough to read but once I got to know her character even she was intriguing. I would have liked to spend more time exploring the "other world" -- maybe in the sequel?
This is a fairly complex read with many interesting characters and overall I found it a wonderful read!
Dec 24, 2008 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A friend of mine introduced me to this wonderful author by giving me this book. It is a fanatastic blend of reality and fantasy. It makes magic and folklore believable and real. DeLint also tells many of his stories using the same characters, though they aren't really serial. You really get to know Jilly and her friends but you can read the books in any order. I love all of his books and urge anyone who wants to believe in magic to check them out.
Masha Toit
Jul 27, 2011 Masha Toit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A difficult book to read. Onion Girl deals with the effects of child abuse, on the survivors and everyone else in their lives. I cant say I enjoyed it, exactly, but it is a compelling read. Charles de lint manages to get you to sympathise with characters who in another book, would be the villains. And no - those are not the abusers. The abusers are almost peripheral to the story.

He also manages the incredibly difficult task of writing about fairies, sprites and other magical beings without seemi
Nov 30, 2008 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Charles de Lint is one of the finest writers, and he writes a form of fantasy that is so accessible to people who don't necessarily want to read the fantasy that includes fairies, wizards, dragons, and castles. This is urban fantasy, it takes place primarily in our present-day world, in a city called Newford. The characters tend to be young adults, musical and artistic, well-read and complex.
The problem with De Lint is he's just not nearly as imaginative as he thinks he is. His "flights of fancy" are flat and derivative at best. Even worse, in my mind; he can't write believable dialog, friendships, or young people. At all.
Nicole Pramik
Sep 18, 2015 Nicole Pramik rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of de Lint, Fans of unique urban fantasy, Literary-minded fantasy fans
This book was my first foray into the works of Charles de Lint, and while I wasn't entirely frustrated by it, it wasn't my cup of tea.

For starters, I actually remembered seeing this book in a local book stores years ago as the cover stuck with me. Its ethereal background and mysterious figure in the foreground were enough to make me think this would be an equally ethereal, mysterious, magical read for adults.

On a positive note, I appreciated this story's willingness to utilize a dream scape and
To start - this was an audio book for me, and the reader of the book did an AMAZING job. I think she was just as crucial to my enjoyment as the story itself.
Perhaps because I tend to do a lot of light reading (young adults, or romance, fantasy etc) this writing and storytelling in this book just seemed amazing to me. When I went to post on Goodreads that I started this book I realized it was #14 (or so) in a series. This is the first book I ever read from this author and I don't think I missed o
Lis Carey
Aug 02, 2013 Lis Carey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-sf
(De Lint has given a lot of attention, in his Newford stories, to the subject of child abuse; be warned that sexual abuse of young children is front and center in this book. It is not, however, excessively graphic.) Onion Girl is another of de Lint's urban fantasies set in the mythical Canadian city of Newford, this one focussing on the life and traumas of the normally irrepressibly cheerful Jilly Coppercorn.

On the opening page, Jilly is hit by a car, and lands in the hospital with a broken arm
Stephanie Swint
Apr 18, 2013 Stephanie Swint rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have never read anything by Charles De Lint prior to listening to The Onion Girl. It is a very good book. I was suprised at how well he mixed the faerie world into what would be considered our world. The book is dark and I saw in reviews that it was very depressing and hard to read. I would say while it is a book that deals with dark issues it is one of hope and redemption. You do have to stick with it to get to the hope and redemption.

The book deals with issues of sexual abuse, at times grap
Mar 10, 2012 Lo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting book, I have many (conflicting) opinions about it. On one hand, I found it amusing and overall, well, enchanting. On the other hand, I found it highly unrealistic (beside the faerie and dreamland element) and that the author was trying to paint a picture of something he didn't fully understand (yet, he captured a few things very well, like Raylene's programing skills).
The story revolves around the parallel yet radically different lives lived by Jilly and her little sist
Abby Brithinee
Mar 01, 2013 Abby Brithinee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Why, oh why have I never read Charles de Lint before now? I'm already in my mid-twenties, which means that a decade and a half of pure literary enjoyment has been lost! I guess I'll have to make up for lost time.

I was super happy after I finished the first book I've read by de Lint: The Onion Girl (by the way, I want the dress Jilly's wearing on the cover). He's a spectacular writer, getting into the gritty of things, bringing his readers the magic that lives in the places that are too dark to s
Jan 20, 2013 Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this fantasy book and would recommend it, as well as Charles de Lint’s books in general, to anyone who likes modern-day fantasy, especially if they like books that are character driven and maybe a little slower-paced than other stuff on the market.

Despite that, though, this particular book comes with a few strings attached. Not to start with a negative, but I’ll just be up front about it and explain what the strings are.

For starters, it would be good to just point out that this bo
April Wadsworth
Jun 05, 2007 April Wadsworth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This novel is a fantasy novel with an urban setting. The story follows the life of a talented painter, Jilly Coppercorn who has the ability to dream herself over into the Dreamlands or Faerie.
The story line begins with Jilly in the hospital, struck by a car in a hit-and-run accident. Her body has been bruised and broken, and she finds that she is able to enter the dreamlands while asleep. Despite concern on the part of her friends, she becomes more withdrawn from the harsh realities of her wrec
John Sloan
Jan 31, 2016 John Sloan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable. An enjoyable mix of the gritty real world, and a fantasy universe. Sad story of a womans accident getting paralyzed and her personal history of child abuse. Had that mix of the “real world” and the fantasy world that i really like, and don't find enough of. The story and subject matter was really heavy. The author dealt with it well, and it was good. But it was somewhat hard to read at points. I enjoyed the characters, particularly the female dominated character list. There were ...more
Sep 09, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this entry in the Newford series a bit hard to take at times as it dealt with adult survivors of childhood abuse. At the heart of the novel is the difficulty abuse victims have in coming to terms with what happened to them, regardless of how well they might appear to be doing from the outside.
Aug 22, 2008 Jackie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So between 3rd grade and probably 10th I read science fiction pretty exclusively, but then kinda grew out of it. Since college or so, I'll occassionally grab something from one of my old favorite authors (Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks, etc.), but generally I've kinda been over them. I've really enjoyed the two Charles De Lint books I've read (including this one), however, I think because they're more character driven (i.e. how will the paralyzed girl adjust to not resuming her form ...more
The title alone caught my interest, for I, too, believe people are Onions. We are all made up of layers: experience, beliefs, scars...There are about 20 out of the first 50 pages that are less than interesting. It was the writing style...the tedious descriptions of a room or Character's Mood...When I wanted nothing more than to read about Jill and Raylene, the author forced unnecessary information down my mental throat. But the pain went away. When the Minor characters once again became Minor, a ...more
Mar 17, 2011 Purlewe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
Every once in awhile I read a book that makes me want to push it on all my friends and say: read this, NOW! This is one of those books.

I was hooked from the first page. Jilly Coppercorn is a fantastic heroine. The intermingling of magic and myth is just too good for words. Jilly and her friends have wonderful worlds to travel, heartbreaks to heal, abuse to overcome, and strength beyond imagining.

I reached a point 100 pages from the end where I felt dread. I had a preconceived notion of where thi
Nora Peevy
Mar 03, 2012 Nora Peevy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint is my new favorite Newford novel, even though it's an older one. de Lint does a remarkable job explaining the origins of the character, Jilly Coppercorn, the beloved fae artist of his fictional town. As usual, de Lint blends world mythology into a modern tale seamlessly. I personally related to Jilly as the proverbial onion girl, as I am sure all of us can. We have all overcome painful obstacles throughout our lives. And it is how we deal with those challenges t ...more
Jul 01, 2007 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For better or for worse, this was actually the first Newford story I read. I have gathered that diehards who have read de Lint's numerous shorts and other novels with the same setting and sometimes shared characters that a novel centered around Jilly was a long time coming. Regardless, it's a great story with a rich set of conflicts and a well-done relationship between this world and the alternate world(s) people stumble into. Bits and pieces of Native American folklore add a nice layer.
Natalie Joan
When I read a fantasy novel, I tend to either obsess over it and the whole series love it or dismiss it entirely. I rarely have an in-between reaction.
When this book started, I thought I was having the latter reaction. I just didn't buy in right away. To me, fantasy should be completely detached from the real world. That's why I like it. This was different. The characters live in the real world (albeit in a fictional city) but know that a parallel fantasy world exists. Some visit it, some c
Adela Bezemer-Cleverley
Excellent. Excellent, excellent, excellent!

I don't think I've ever read an urban fantasy that wasn't YA, and this was a perfect book to start with. Thanks to my dad for recommending Charles de Lint to me!

The Onion Girl is the 8th book in the Newford books, but it doesn't seem to really matter. At least, it wasn't confusing at all. As far as I can gather there isn't really a chronological order to the books, since they all follow different characters with storylines that intermingle at one point
Book content warnings:
drug addiction

This book was difficult to read. A friend recommended it to me, and, though I know why, the fact that she was my friend was the only reason I finished this book. Coming from an abusive household made Jilly and Raylene's PoVs and backstories sometimes hard to stomach. The abuse scenes weren't particularly graphic, but they were very triggering, and I strongly advise people who were/are in similar situations to be very careful before picking up this book.

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Wood Wife
  • A Red Heart of Memories (Red Heart of Memories, #1)
  • Welcome to Bordertown (Borderland, #5)
  • War for the Oaks
  • Nevernever
  • The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales
  • Solstice Wood (Winter Rose, #2)
  • Mockingbird
  • Tam Lin
  • Except the Queen
  • Hannah's Garden
Charles de Lint is the much beloved author of more than seventy adult, young adult, and children's books. Renowned as one of the trailblazers of the modern fantasy genre, he is the recipient of the World Fantasy, Aurora, Sunburst, and White Pine awards, among others. Modern Library's Top 100 Books of the 20th Century poll, conducted by Random House and voted on by readers, put eight of de Lint's b ...more
More about Charles de Lint...

Other Books in the Series

Newford (1 - 10 of 27 books)
  • Dreams Underfoot (Newford, #1)
  • Memory and Dream (Newford, #2)
  • The Ivory and the Horn (Newford, #3)
  • Trader (Newford, #4)
  • Someplace to Be Flying (Newford, #5)
  • Moonlight and Vines (Newford, #6)
  • Forests of the Heart (Newford, #7)
  • Tapping the Dream Tree (Newford, #9)
  • Spirits in the Wires (Newford, #10)
  • Widdershins (Newford, #11)

Share This Book

“People who’ve never read fairy tales, the professor said, have a harder time coping in life than the people who have. They don’t have access to all the lessons that can be learned from the journeys through the dark woods and the kindness of strangers treated decently, the knowledge that can be gained from the company and example of Donkeyskins and cats wearing boots and steadfast tin soldiers. I’m not talking about in-your-face lessons, but more subtle ones. The kind that seep up from your sub¬conscious and give you moral and humane structures for your life. That teach you how to prevail, and trust. And maybe even love.” 92 likes
“There's never an easy route to the things that matter.” 46 likes
More quotes…