Sara Thompson's Reviews > The Onion Girl

The Onion Girl by Charles  de Lint
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Jul 06, 2011

really liked it
Read in April, 2011

I can't say why I picked this book or what even attracted me to this book except that it was a particular audio format that I was playing with for my nook. I knew nothing about this book and didn't have a cover to refer to. Sometimes I think that's the best way to discover a good story.
Part way through this book, I added it to my reading list on a book site (can't remember the exact one at the moment). I was surprised to find that this book did not come highly recommended. I had never heard of Charles de Lint but apparently he writes a series that is popular in some circles. Those who were fans of that series did not care for this book which was an offshoot of the series but not part of it. I even read a few comments that this book should be read after reading some of the series so it made sense. I was already through half the story and I became worried - was I missing something?
I found this story all encompassing and I didn't feel like any information was withheld. Knowing that, I could see how this book would frustrate someone familiar with the series. It was a stand alone book and went through a lot of information about the characters and landscape which might be overkill for those already familiar with the series (this book did not feel like it was a series at all).
With that said, let me share the plot. Jilly Coppercorn wakes up to find she is in the hospital after a nearly fatal hit and run. While in her coma, she discovers she can go into the Dreamlands, a fantasy world that a few friends of hers have been able to enter. When she wakes up, her body is paralyzed but there is hope that her body will heal and she can return to being an artist. She becomes torn between being in the Dreamlands where she is perfectly healthy and able to draw, and being "the broken girl" in the real world. Add to this, her baby sister is out for her blood. The story is told from several points of view and at first they seemed scattered and I had a little difficulty figuring out the relationships (part of this may be due to not actually reading the book but listening to it). It worked, however. I liked the different points of view and the history of the characters. The most interesting part is how two people who had nearly identical childhoods could grow up to be two completely different people.
There are a lot of elements in this book - fantasy, drama, horror. The author talks about some really dark demons - child abuse, rape, drugs, prostitution and murder but it never feels that dark because Jilly has such a positive attitude to all of it.
She is told that she must heal the old hurts before she can heal the new ones and how the author does that is amazing. It was a touching and powerful story that I highly recommend and may lead me to reading more de Lint's books.
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