Promises to Keep
by Charles de Lint
Published: 2011 (First edition: 2007)
Available Format(s): Trade Paperback
Jilly Coppercorn of Newford is back. With the help of a mentor and an anonymous benefactor, the talented young artist has overcome her troubled past and is enrolled in art school. The future is full of bright promise.
Although she still struggles, Jilly feels safe and loved by her newly formed family, including her loyal best friend Geordie, lovely fellow-classmate Sophie Etoile, and her staunch ally, the Angel of Grasso Street. Then, a tempting opportunity rides into town on an oversized motorcycle….
This original novel both celebrates and journeys beyond Newford, Charles de Lint’s popular mythical city of magic and mayhem.
“De Lint returns to Newford and Jilly Coppercorn’s youth…. [D]e Lint presents Jilly’s choices, the memories impelling them, and the solution to the riddle of Donna in his characteristic powerful yet intimate style. Jilly’s reader friends, including those first meeting her, will be more than delighted.”
“Lucid writing and well-realized characters.”
“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. The beautiful cover art was done by Mike Dringenberg, well-known for his work on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.”
—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.”
“It is perfect for those looking for lots of realism in their fantasy, but with a more than a touch of the magical.”
—Layers of Thought
—Quill and Ink
“A clear and stunning view revealing the secrets of Newford.”
Charles de Lint is the best-selling author of more than seventy adult, YA, and children’s books, including Moonheart, The Onion Girl, Widdershins, Medicine Road, and Under My Skin. He is the recipient of the World Fantasy, YALSA, Crawford, and Aurora awards. De Lint is a poet, songwriter, performer, and folklorist, and he writes a book review column for Fantasy & Science Fiction.
Praise for Charles de Lint
“[de Lint] clearly has no equal as an urban fantasist.”
“De Lint’s elegant prose and effective storytelling continue to transform the mundane into the magical at every turn.”
“To read de Lint is to fall under the spell of a master storyteller, to be reminded of the greatness of life, of the beauty and majesty lurking in shadows and empty doorways.”
—Quill and Quire
“In a genre of elaborately mapped Neverlands, de Lint sets his tale in our contemporary world and makes it not less magical.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Easily Canada’s top fantasy scribe…a major international force in the genre.”
“One of the most gifted storytellers writing fantasy today…de Lint makes each character real, each one capable of change and of many different responses.”
Praise for The Very Best of Charles de Lint
“It’s hard not to feel encouraged to be a better person after reading a book by Ottawa’s Charles de Lint.”
—Halifax Chronicle Herald
“Charles de Lint is the modern master of urban fantasy. Folktale, myth, fairy tale, dreams, urban legend—all of it adds up to pure magic in de Lint’s vivid, original world. No one does it better.”
“An outstanding and widely varied collection of 29 tales…. Longtime fans and newcomers alike will fall in love with de Lint’s graceful, poetic language and characters.”
“[de Lint] is a master storyteller…. [I]n every story—and I do mean every—he manages to pack an emotional wallop, and a sense that the fantastical could be very, very possible if only we choose to believe it so.”
“More than 400 pages of the finest urban fantasy fiction of the past three decades.”
Praise for Eyes Like Leaves
“This is classic high fantasy, written and revised by a master, unpublished when first completed some thirty years ago because de Lint decided to focus on contemporary fantasy stories and let it languish. It is a must for de Lint completists and, actually, for all high-fantasy and folkloristic fiction fans.”
“This traditional fantasy…bears de Lint’s characteristically lyrical prose and hypnotic storytelling. Filled with Celtic lore and wonderfully drawn characters, this stand-alone epic should please the author’s many fans and lovers of medieval fantasy.”
“World Fantasy Award winner de Lint dusts off an enchanting epic fantasy written in 1980 but never published. The result is a delightful old-fashioned group quest…. [H]is nascent poetic style evokes beautiful imagery.”
“Eyes Like Leaves is well-paced, and the action scenes flash with energy. Charles de Lint shows signs of the bardic gift in his ability to make scenes come alive….”
“Eyes Like Leaves is a captivating book. 4.5 out of 5 stars.”
—Bibliophile Book Blog
“If you are a fan of de Lint, Eyes Like Leaves should definitely become part of your collection. New to de Lint and like high fantasy? You should certainly give it a try.”
—Little Red Reviewer
Praise for Medicine Road
“Canadian author de Lint and illustrator Vess make good medicine in this whimsical collaboration of words and images starring those rambunctious red-haired Dillard twins, Laurel and Bess, mentioned in 2002’s Seven Wild Sisters and now stage center in their own short novel…. The mythic magic inevitable in all of de Lint’s best fantasies marks the spirited conclusion.”
“De Lint adroitly and believably meshes the world we live in and the spirit world, and his lyrical descriptions of desert and canyon take us directly into the ambiance of the Southwest, adding much to the charm of this first-in-a-series short novel that is already well laced with humor, romance, and Native American mythology and nicely complemented by World Fantasy Award winner Charles Vess’s black-and-white illustrations.”
“Charles de Lint’s new book, Medicine Road, is a first-rate folk tale, the story of a jackalope (that’s a mythical cross between a rabbit and an antelope, for the uninitiated) and a red dog whose run-in with a meddling Coyote Woman changes their lives forever.”
“A strong, thoroughly enjoyable, thoroughly magical story that takes advantage of native myths and lore to create something entirely new, yet quietly familiar.”
Visit the Charles de Lint website.
“Hey, J.C.!” a voice calls as I’m about to cross the street. I’m ready to ignore it until the woman adds, “Jillian Carter!”
It’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time and all the skin at the nape of my neck tightens in unhappy anticipation and nervousness. I thought I’d managed to put that name behind me now, along with the memories of foster homes and living on the street.
I turn slowly to see a young woman around my age, leaning against the seat of a motorcycle that looks way too big for her.
She has a cute black pageboy haircut and tattoos everywhere her skin is showing except for on her face and the back of her hands.
A cigarette dangles from glossy red lips, James Dean style. She’s wearing tight faded jeans tucked into clunky black motorcycle boots and a jean vest.
“Donna?” I say.
She takes a last drag from her cigarette and flicks the butt to the sidewalk.
“In the flesh, J.C,” she says, then she steps over and gives me a hug.
We’re both small women, but her boots give her more height and she’s certainly better endowed than I’ll ever be unless I get implants. She’s never needed them.
“It’s been a long time,” I say when we step apart.
“Tell me about it.”
Donna Birch and I met in Tyson County’s Home for Wayward Girls, way back when. And later, the last time I ran away from a foster home, we shared a squat in the Tombs until I took up with this guy named Rob and started crashing with him. But Donna and I still hung out together, and we might have kept it up for years, except she got busted for assaulting some guy in a bar and pulled a year-and-a-day in county, while my life spiraled down into a black hole of heroin and prostitution. We just never connected again.
“You look good,” she says.
“I feel good. I’ve been clean for a couple of years now.”
“That’ll do it. What else have you been up to?”
“I’m going to art school.”
“No shit? I always knew you had it in you. I still have a couple of those little drawings of yours that I rescued from the corner of some squat or other.”
“No, they’re cool. Really.” She smiles. “I’ve cleaned up my act, too. I’m a vegetarian now. My only vice is nicotine, and the odd beer.”
“How odd is the beer you drink?”
“Ha ha. No, seriously. I’m done with the drugs and the binge drinking. Been clean for almost a year now myself. You’re looking at a whole new Donna Birch.”
“I’ll say. When did you get into the tattoos?”
She grins. “They tell the story of my life, girl.”
She turns and lifts her hair to show me a small one in black ink at the nape of her neck. It’s of some little creature that looks like a pair of eyes staring out of a bundle of twigs.
“Remember that?” she asks.
I nod my head because I do. I used to draw that little guy all the time.
“Every one of my tats is a chapter of my life,” she says.
She shows off her right bicep where a woman with her page boy hair and a tight red mini-dress is wrapped in barbed-wire that goes on to trail down and around her elbow. Then she turns so that I can see her other bicep where the same woman is playing a standup bass, standing on it like a rockabilly queen.
“I’m in a band,” she says.
“Where, let me guess. You play stand-up bass.”
“Ask me how much I love it.”
I smile. “How much do you love it?”
“I could marry it.”
“And do you play out at all?” I ask.
That’s an expression I got from my friend Geordie who works part-time at the Post Office with me. This is our second year at it—we met while we were both in training for the upcoming Christmas rush, and don’t you know it, it’s that time of year again already.
It may only be two major holidays away, but before you know it, Halloween and Thanksgiving will be done and we’ll be swamped with parcels and cards. The difference this year is that we don’t get paid while we’re being trained—we just go right to work because we already know the job.
“All the time,” Donna says. “We mostly do gigs at stock car races and hot rod shows because that’s where the work is for the kind of rockabilly stuff we do. But we play clubs, too, like the one we’re at this weekend, right here in town. You ever go to a place called Your Second Home?”
“Well, we’re playing at Cool Hand’s Juke—just down the street from it.”
“What’s the name of your band?” I ask.
“Big Earl and His Girls. Earl’s our frontman—a seriously hot guitar slinger and a decent singer. His wife Lucy plays drums, and I’m…well...”
She turns again so that I can see the bicep with the bass-player tattoo.
“You should come see us,” she says. “I’ll put you on the guest list.”
“I’d like that. Can I bring a friend?”
“Anybody you like.” But then she cocks her head and adds, “You’re not still with that asswipe Rob, are you?”
“No, but sadly, since then there’ve been other losers almost as charming.”
“Isn’t that the sorry truth. These days I just tell the guys hitting on me that I’m a big ol’ dyke and don’t swing their way.”
“Big?” I say. “It’s only those boots that are making you taller than me.”
“I could still whup your ass.”
“It’s good to see you full of sass again. That last time…”
The last time I saw her I was stumbling down one of those seedy streets that run off Palm, jonesing for a fix.
“It’s good to see you, too,” I tell her. “Really good. There’s not many people from those old days I could say that about. In fact, you’re the only one I could say that about.”
“Same deal for me, J.C. Same deal for me.”
Okay, this is a bit awkward, I realize, but I have to tell her if she’s putting my name on the guest list.
“One, um, thing,” I say. “I don’t really go by Jillian Carter anymore.”
She raises an eyebrow.
“It’s Jilly Coppercorn now.”
She smiles. “That’s cool—it still comes out as J.C.”
“I guess it does.”
“Later,” she says. “And you better show tomorrow night, or I’ll come looking for you.”
“I’ll be there.”
It’s not till she turns toward her bike that I realize the crest on the back of her jean vest are actually gang colours. It’s not the Devil’s Dragon emblem, which is our local bike gang. This one’s got a skull with a patch over one eye socket and flames all around it. Under it are the words “The Pirates.”
“This club,” I ask. “Is it a biker bar?”
She looks at me over her shoulder. “Don’t worry. It’ll be cool. Didn’t I always take care of you?”
“Until you went to jail.”
“Yeah, but I’m a good girl now.”
I have to laugh. “Donna, you look like anything but a good girl.”
“All depends on your definition, J.C.”