Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
I finished Charles de Lint’s The Onion Girl on January 28, 2010. It took me several weeks to start reading the book, but only because I wasn’t making the time to do so each night. Funny thing, I had it checked out from the library for six weeks longer than they typically allow. I kept telling them, “But I haven’t been able to read it yet,” in the most pathetic and desperate voice possible. Not whiny though. I loathe being whiny. My gut just knew it was a book I would love.
So, it might’ve taken me close to two months to finally open it up, but it only took me five days to read all of its 508 pages. And color me impressed by my first experience with de Lint’s work. Characters too real to be merely a figment of the author’s imagination, the multiple points of view, the in-depth worldbuilding minus the huge info dumps of which I’m not a fan, a seamless weaving of plot and subplot — man, that’s how I want to write some of my stories.
Jilly Coppercorn, who has possibly one of the best character names ever, was someone I liked from the second she was introduced. An inspirational character, who is also flawed and broken, she was the reason I didn’t want to close the book. The plot was a little predictable; however, I was so invested in Jilly that I stuck through the somewhat slow pace to find out how she’d come out on the other end of her journey. Yes, this is definitely a character-driven tale.
I now know there are other books in the Newford series, and while reading Onion Girl, I sensed there were other (back) stories I wasn’t being told, but I didn’t feel like I missed a big piece of the puzzle. All of the pertinent details and development, the ones I needed in order to connect with Jilly and her story, were given to me in steady narrative with a natural flow. I enjoy when an author writes a series of books that are as independent as they are connected.
The Onion Girl‘s powerful themes tugged at my heartstrings and filled me with the kind of hope and warm fuzzies I didn’t expect. A big surprise was the way I connected on a realistic and personal level to a story I thought was going to be purely fantasy and make believe. Perhaps, being one of the “Children of the Secret,” I am biased in my assessment of the overall story. But, aren’t our reactions to, and perceptions of, most stories usually a subjective one?
The ending was satisfying and I would definitely like to follow Jilly even further on her journey through the World As It Is and everywhere else.
Have you read and enjoyed any of de Lint’s work?
If so, which of his books should I read next?