Jilly Coppercorn has always been his main character, though she'd never before had a book of her own; she shone through all of his Newford stories, tangle-haired and fierce and so full of love that you couldn't be around her without feeling it, all of it wrapped in a shadow of old pain, but surpassing that shadow.
He always said she'd never have a book of her own. Mostly because she was his favorite character and, well, you can't give someone the lead in a book and not have Bad Stuff happen. But he finally gave in. Jilly was persistent.
The Onion Girl made me stamp my feet and want to throw things because it was wrong. He took from Jilly and gave nothing in return. He made her less. He made her the Broken Girl, as she said.
And said he wouldn't write her again, not as a main character.
And I was so angry. Because that's not how her story ends. Okay, in an ideal world, her story never ends, and Charles becomes immortal and never stops writing her, and I become immortal and never stop reading. And I get a pony. But even in this non-ideal world, I could not accept the Jilly at the end of The Onion Girl as the forever Jilly. It was wrong.
Jilly. Doesn't. Give. Up.
And I thought maybe Charles didn't know that. For all his gift, he has not been what he calls a Child of the Secret. He has not been pummeled to the ground repeatedly and risen up stronger each time. Maybe he does not know that when something breaks your body, it does not break you. It slows you. You need to work hard against it.
But, if you're anything like Jilly, you do not give up. Not after all of that. I wrote recently about people who've gone through the Bad Shit - how they know that they can fight through anything, because look what they've done already! Everything is surmountable. And when that's your life, you Know this. You can forget.... but only for a little while. It comes back.
Jilly drew Charles back into her story, against all of his intentions.
Healing is never painless. And maybe that's why Charles shied away from this book for so long.
But healing is necessary.
And he gave her that. These pages and words, this place to heal herself and become who she is once again, and more than ever.
This book is right.