Charles de Lint,
Promises to Keep
(Subterranean Press, 2007)

I was a little worried that Widdershins truly signaled the final chapter on Jilly Coppercorn and Geordie Riddell for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, Charles de Lint had at least one more in him, and he just happened to owe Subterranean Press a story.

The short story de Lint intended to write grew into a short novel. But, as he explains in his introduction, he didn't want to "complicate her life yet again" after giving Jilly a well-deserved happy ending in his previous novel. So Promises flashes back to 1972 and beyond, introducing us to a much younger character who's fresh out of the foster care program, clean, sober and getting an education.

None of that prepares her for a reunion with Donna Birch, an old friend and protector, who leads Jilly to a place of dead people and living dreams. And Jilly, who is still trying to find her place in the world, thinks maybe this necrotic city is where she belongs. And even if she does want to return home to Newford, she's not certain she can leave.

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.

The review proof of this book arrived on March 16, which really wasn't fair -- as the fiddler in an Irish band, that's a pretty busy weekend for gigs. And yet, I managed to polish it off before St. Patrick's Day rolled to a close, because delaying any further was simply not an option. Thank you, Charles, for another excursion with Jilly into the fey wonders of the world and the wild places of your imagination.

by Tom Knapp
18 March 2007

[ visit CdL's website ]

Buy it from