"In the House of My Enemy" (1993) is a short story from the Dreams Underfoot collection, and was written for that collection specifically. The story was also included in The Onion Girl as a flashback.

Category (Adult or YA) Edit


Descripton Edit

Jilly Coppercorn runs into a pregnant 15-year-old girl panhandling on the street whom she introduces to Angela Marceau. The girl, like Jilly, had been sexually abused in her past.


In most of his works about adolescents, de Lint uses his fantasy trappings to create symbolic tales that cut sharply into uncomfortable aspects of human experience. "In the House of My Enemy" depicts the consequences of child abuse, teenaged pregnancy, and abandonment through a survivor, Jilly, and a lost soul, Annie, a fifteen-year old who is eight months pregnant and who has lost hope for herself. For all the touches of magic and supernatural beings, the story is never evasive, always focused on whether an adolescent such as Annie can be saved from her own self-rejection. ~ In the House of My Enemy Overview ~ Book Rags study guide

Themes Edit

Most of "In the House of My Enemy" is about Jilly and her effort to establish her own self-worth. Her friend Sophie Etoile, a fairylike woman, has helped her and has brought her into a group of artists who are working to put on an exhibition depicting the darker side of growing up. One of Sophie's engravings is Stolen Childhood, a symbolic depiction of "A child in a ragged dress" holding a stick doll, with "A shadowed figure" standing "behind the screen door, watching her." ~ Book Rags study guide


Settings Edit

Newford (city)


Supernatural / Mythical ElementsEdit

Faeries, Bodachs

There really are not any supernatural or mythical elements. The closest it comes is the talks that Jilly has with Annie when annie asks about magic and faeries. Jilly tells her she believes and she has seen faeries. She has seen the one in her paintings. She told that what it take is to pay attention. What might be a piece of litter blowing in the wind is really a Bodach.

Characters Edit

Characters What Story About
Jilly Coppercorn artist; former runaway & addict "In the House of My Enemy" Was raped by her brother from age 3; Lou & Angel helped get her life together; now she helps teens; 
Annie Mackle pregnant teen "In the House of My Enemy" Jilly helping her, plans to sponsor her to get a new life
Angela Marceau social worker of sorts "In the House of My Enemy" Helped Jilly get off the streets; Jilly wnat to take Annit to her; 
Sophie Etoile faerie-like woman "In the House of My Enemy" helped Jilly and has brought her into a group of artists who are working to put on an exhibition depicting child abuse; 
Lou Fucceri cop with a heart of gold "In the House of My Enemy" helped Jilly get off the streets; 
Robert Carson 15-year-old pimp "In the House of My Enemy" hooked Jilly on drugs, turned her out to get more
Five Coyotes Singing Studio artist group "In the House of My Enemy" doing a group show on child abuse
Green Man Gallery Gallery "In the House of My Enemy" where Five Coyotes art show will be

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First Sentence Edit


Goodreads | Charles de Lint Quotes

Jilly says of herself: I've been so many people; some I didn't like at all. I wonder that anyone could. Victim, hooker, junkie, liar, thief. But without them I wouldn't be who I am today. I'm no one special, but I like who I am, lost childhood and all. ~In the House of My Enemy Themes & Characters

   “I don’t know if that’s such a good person,” Annie said.
   “Don’t think like that. It’s not true.”
   Annie shrugged. “I guess I’m scared I’ll do the same thing to my baby that my mother did to me. That’s how it happens, doesn’t it? My mom used to beat the crap out of me all the time, didn’t matter if Idid something wrong or not, and I’m just going to end up doing the same thing to my kid.”
   “You’re only hurting yourself with that kind of thinking,” Jilly said.
   “But it can happen, can’t it? Jesus, I I ... You know I’ve been gone from her for two years now, but I still feel like she’s standing right next to me half the time, or waiting around the corner for me. It’s like I’ll never escape. When I lived at home, it was like I was living in the house of an enemy. But running away didn’t change that. I still feel like that, except now it’s like everybody’s my enemy.” ~ Annie and Jilly — "In the House of My Enemy"


  • 11th Place: 1994 Locus—Best Collection
  • Nomination: 1994 World Fantasy—Best Collection

Notes Edit

  • "In the House of My Enemy" was originally printed in the Dreams Underfoot collection.

Other Print Sources

See AlsoEdit

External LinksEdit


Study Guide:

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