Tue 5 Feb 2008
This novel is a slender volume (under 200 pages) published by Subterranean Press, a small specialty publisher that has been putting out amazing editions of de Lint’s older works and collections of his short stories. If you have never seen a Subterranean Press edition, I’d recommend finding or buying one. They’re amazing, from the full-cloth bindings and embossed end-papers, to the well-set pages and full-color covers. Anyway, Promises to Keep was supposed to be a new short story to go in a collection of his, but it took on a life of its own and turned into a short novel.
Most of de Lint’s books are set in an imaginary city called Newford, as I explained in my recent review of Little (Grrl) Lost (link), and this one stars what is a very familiar face for Newford readers: Jilly Coppercorn. It’s set in an era we haven’t visited much, though: Jilly’s college years. What happened then has been touched upon many times, from in Memory and Dream (possibly my favorite book ever) to the much more recent pair of The Onion Girl and Widdershins, both primarily about Jilly’s life. In Promises to Keep, Jilly runs into an old friend of hers, Donna Birch, from juvie, who invites her to a bar — one that Jilly’s friend Geordie, a musician, had never heard of. Donna’s band is apparently playing there, and Jilly goes to see her. Donna invites her through a door — to another world. Jilly is given the option to stay. But what is this other world? (more…)