Promises To Keep

By Charles De Lint

Place: Publisher & Year: Burton, MI: Subterranean Press, 2007

Genre: Fantasy, contemporary fantasy, urban fantasy, mythic fiction, paranormal

Series: Newford; 20 (according to NoveList) or 21 (according to Goodreads)

ISBN: 9781596061262

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 173

Setting: Newford, Canada

Time period: late 1960s – 1973

Plot summary: In 1972, Jilly Coppercorn runs into an old friend, Donna Birch, from her former street life days.  Donna is the only person that Jilly even considers to be a friend from this time period.  Donna no longer does any drugs other than the occasional beer, therefore, Jilly can’t say no to meeting her friend at the club she will be playing in a couple of nights.  And it doesn’t faze Jilly at all when none of her friends have ever heard of the club.  Jilly knows the club will be there on the night her friend is playing, even if it’s not the night before.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Lots of dialog and flashbacks contribute to the fast pace of this book.

Characterization: Told in first person through Jilly as both a victim and junkie living in the streets and as a person trying to turn her life around.

Frame: One’s beliefs will always impact how one experiences the world.

Story line: The story of Jilly’s life has been told in bits and pieces throughout various Newford stories and books (The Onion Girl and Widdershins).  This book focuses upon Jilly’s transition from a victim of abuse to a person who wants to contribute to life and make the world a better place.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Newford (Imaginary place) — Fiction.

City and town life — Fiction.

Magic — Fiction.

Fantasy fiction.

Similar authors: Neil Gaiman, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Emma Bull, Terri Windling, Robin McKinley

Personal notes: Of course I liked this book – it’s by Charles de Lint.  It’s hard for me to believe that this is #20 or 21 in the Newford “series”.  I think I’ve read all of the Newford books (except for a couple of the chapter books); I don’t really consider them to be a series because each book is independent of the others – they just all take place in the city of Newford.  (And NoveList actually considers Seven Wild Sisters to be a Newford book, even though Newford is just mentioned in that book).  The Goodreads series numbers seem to be a bit whackier, since many of the smaller chapter books are included in the numbering system.

NoveList also notes that this book is a sequel to Widdershins, but really, it’s a prequel to all of the stories which involve Jilly (including Widdershins).

I got this book a couple of years ago for the holidays, but didn’t have time to read it then.  I’m guessing that part of The Mystery of Grace came from concepts of the afterlife explored in this book.  There are definitely big similarities between the two books.

Other (diversity, themes, websites): Diversity – former junkie, artists, abused children, spirits, Latinos, communicator with the dead

Charles de Lint’s website

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