The Onion Girl, by Charles de Lint

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Eleventh book in the Newford Series
Publisher: Tor Books (August 3, 2002), Paperback: 512 pages, ISBN-10: 0765303817, ISBN-13: 978-0765303813

Jilly Coppercorn, an artist, has been seriously injured in a car accident. She is now the broken girl, both inside and outside. Jilly, like the city of Newford has many layers, that is why she is The Onion Girl.  This story is her journey of self discovery which she must go through in order to heal, with most of her journey taking place in the spirit world.

The Newford series has a different twist on contemporary fantasy. There are no vampires, werewolves, etc, but there is magic which is a melding of Native American spiritual beliefs and urban faerie. The story is told in a first person narrative alternating between Jilly, the main protagonist, her little sister Raylaine, and Joe Crazy Dog, a veteran of the spirit world. Charles de Lint is a prolific writer and has written 24 books in the Newford series alone, he has also written many other novels, novelettes, short stories and collections.

Although horrific, child abuse is examined in this book. The story shows how the same horrendous event can affect different people in different ways. Some people can choose to overcome the abuse, while others can let the abuse destroy their life. When Jilly was growing up she experienced evil in the form of a brother who started sexually abusing her when she was just three years old. Her parents were even more evil, since they not only knew about it, they also blamed and ostracized the young girl for her unwilling participation. Now both Jilly and her sister continue to deal with the evil that was done to them, each coming to terms with the abuse in a different manner.

This is a standalone book, with a great story that examines personal responsibility. If you enjoy reading contemporary fantasy where the majority of the story takes place in a spirit world, then you should read The Onion Girl.

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