In Jilly’s journey from being the junkie street kid she was, to the cheerful character we know from later Newford tales, she navigates the perils of loyalty to old friends versus new ones. Facing hard choices, Jilly must decide whether she's worthy of genuine friendship, promises, and life itself.
Promises to Keep is a beautiful new chapter in Jilly's story. De Lint perfectly captures the voice and character of Jilly at this early point in her life, and allows readers a glimpse of her journey to become the person we know from the later Newford Tales. It's that becoming that is the focus of Promises to Keep. De Lint lets us see the choices Jilly makes, as well as how and why she makes them, as she starts to build a life that she can be proud of. She navigates the perils of old friendships, and the joys of new ones as she learns that she's worthy of making—and keeping—promises.
Since his earliest Newford tales, de Lint has been sketching out his portrait of Jilly. The intriguing, enigmatic figure grew clearer and more defined with each story, and with the publication of Widdershins and The Onion Girl, some readers might have thought there was nothing more to tell.
But, as the title of this story suggests, Jilly has miles to go before she sleeps. The character has an incredible, perhaps endless number of layers, and each is fresh and exciting. In this case, the young runaway, recovered addict and budding artist does not yet believe in magic or mystery in the world; that impression is about to change.”
If you are already familiar with Newford’s residents, Promises to Keep provides a lovely glimpse into their past, and how they came to know one another. Readers new to de Lint’s work will find this book an easy introduction to the magical world of Newford.
— Journal of Mythic Arts
“In his novella Promises to Keep, Charles de Lint returns to the early days of one of his most beloved Newford characters, Jilly Coppercorn. For fans this will be a delight well worth seeking out but teen readers who have a chance to read it should not pass it up….a classic peek into the wonder that is Newford.”
It’s poignant, it’s moving, it makes you want to be a better person, and all in all, it’s pure de Lint.
— SF Site
De Lint’s elegant prose and effective storytelling continue to transform the mundane into the magical at every turn.
— Library Journal
[De Lint] clearly has no equal as an urban fantasist.
Lucid writing and well-realized characters.
— Publishers Weekly
After a childhood of abuse and drug addiction, Jilly Coppercorn, last seen in de Lint's Widdershins (2006), is well on her way to being "normal" as an art school student when she runs into Donna Birch, her only friend from the bad old days, at the start of this appealing urban fantasy set in Newford in 1972. Donna takes Jilly into a realm similar to this world, but where things have a way of working out better. It's almost a paradise, a place where dreams are almost too easily realized, until Jilly realizes that the inhabitants are actually dead, souls whose lives were unfulfilled. She can continue pleasantly enough, but only by abandoning her responsibilities to all the people who helped her back in the living world. While much of this will resonate more with longtime fans of de Lint's Newford series, the lucid writing and well-realized characters make this short novel accessible even to new readers.