“Children are the brightest treasures we bring forth into this world, but too large a percentage of the population continues to treat them as inconveniences and nuisances, when they’re not treating them as possessions or toys.” – p 79

While the only other adult fiction book by Charles DeLint I’ve read was simply short stories, it was quite a doozy and was more than enough to properly introduce me to the world of Newford, and DeLint. This book is actually a novel, a long and streamlined story.

In this story, we learn about the irrepressible Jilly Coppercorn. Jilly, who is known for her curly auburn hair, imaginative paintings of the magical world and its creatures, and loving, vivacious personality – has been hit by a car. She wakes up in the hospital, her side paralyzed, with many people worrying about her and a new ability to enter the spiritworld through her dreams. This is something Jilly has always wanted to do, although now it seems her time spent in the spiritworld will only impede her healing process in the real world. Meanwhile, Jilly’s younger sister, Raylene, is on the warpath. Raylene still has not forgiven Jilly from running away from home and leaving her behind. Along with her psycho porn star friend, Pinky, Raylene has found a way into the spiritworld herself, and has vowed revenge on her older sister.

I heartily appreciate DeLint’s works. He has a spectacular gift for bringing you to care about the characters as they struggle with whatever both the spirit world and the real world throw at them. He also has been able to create characters which blend seamlessly into either of these worlds and seem perfectly plausable. DeLint has gleaned from hundreds of myths and legends from many different cultures in order to populate his spirit worlds. We meet Coyote and Baba Yaga, characters from books, and imaginary friends.

One of the great things about DeLint’s work is that he uses magical realism and fantasy itself to address social issues in a way that makes it easier to approach and understand. This book particularly deals with child abuse – which is a painful subject in itself, and hard to read about in a fictional novel. But through the use of the spirit world, we are able to learn about the victims of these crimes – how they feel, how they deal, and how they manage to move on, or not.

In general (I say this having only read 3 of his books, when there are MANY out there), I recommend DeLint if you are a fantasy fan. You may not appreciate just how indepth he makes his fantasy world if you aren’t a fantasy lover – this definitely should be firmly placed in that genre.

Charles DeLint wrote “The Onion Girl” and it was published in 2001.