The Story of the Hundred Promises
by Neil Cochrane
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Pub Date 04 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 25 Oct 2022
A queer, deconstructed version of the “Beauty and the Beast” fairy taleTrans sailor Darragh Thorn has made a comfortable life for himself among people who love and accept him. Ten years after his exile from home, though, his sister asks him to reconcile with their ailing father. Determined to resolve his feelings rather than just survive them, Darragh sets off on a quest to find the one person who can heal a half-dead man: the mysterious enchanter who once gave him the magic he needed to become his true self. But so far as anyone knows, no one but Darragh has seen the enchanter for a century, and the fairy tales that survive about em give more cause for fear than hope. In lush and evocative prose, and populated with magical trees and a wise fox, The Story of the Hundred Promises is a big-hearted fantasy suffused with queer optimism.
"This book made me cry in the middle of an airport. . . . The Story of the Hundred Promises is the trans fable the world needs right now."
—Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky
“A lush and evocative fantasy that explores the quiet places of generational trauma with true gentleness, through the eyes of characters who feel so honest and true you can't help but cling to optimism even in the face of fear. A fairy tale every bit as new as it is familiar, this book is a triumph."
—Emmie Mears, author of the Stonebreaker series
"Through a deep world, lush prose, and delightfully crafted characters, Cochrane employs fairytales within fairytales to explore queerness and self-realization with a delicate and honest touch. The Story of the Hundred Promises is a beautiful tale of trust and love that will dig its roots deep within you and never let go."
—Claudie Arseneault, author of Baker Thief
"Neil Cochrane’s The Story of the Hundred Promises is set in a world where folktales can come true, where magic can change lives, where a quest undertaken with a pure heart just might succeed. His cast of characters sweeps you along, but they quest not for treasure or sacred objects–they quest for wisdom and knowledge, for renewal and connection. Cochrane has a gift for describing the sublime moments of natural beauty we see when we slow down enough to live in the moment. Amongst the many layers of this complex and deftly woven novel are both a love song to the restorative powers of nature, and a cautionary tale about the perils of commodifying natural resources. The Story of the Hundred Promises is an affirmation of the myriad ways of being a human, and of the many forms that love takes when loosed from the confining bonds of a binary culture. Cochrane’s novel offers the hope that, if we do the work on ourselves and our relationships to heal the traumas of the past, we can and do rise to our best selves, and to our highest ideals of kindness and inclusiveness."
—Stevan Allred, author of The Alehouse at the End of the World
“In a world of alternatives, love of all sorts weaves throughout this fantastic tale like rose vines. But it is self acceptance and love for ones own being that rings true throughout all realities.”
—Jonah Barrett, author of Moss Covered Claws
Neil Cochrane is a queer, trans author and artist living and working in Portland, Oregon. He writes speculative fiction that centers queer characters overcoming obstacles and building families. He has worked in and around the publishing industry since 2012, in such various roles as editor, literary agent assistant, marketing director, and bookseller.
His third novel will build on his existing fan base
Trans protagonists are underrepresented in fiction; trans authors are underrepresented as well
The novel engages many aspects of queerness (including gender identity and aromanticism) and represents different types of family units, allowing for many readers to find depictions of themselves in the book
As our society continues to do better with asking/sharing pronouns, a book set in a world where pronoun announcements are part of every formal greeting will be appreciated and celebrated, especially by the LGBTQIA+ community and those who are often, frustratingly misgendered
Those who struggle with depression and those who seek realistic depictions of mental health in fiction will appreciate The Story of the Hundred Promises, particularly the character Merrigan
This hopeful epic will appeal to fantasy readers seeking an escape from the ongoing harsh reality of the pandemic
The Story of the Hundred Promises taps into the age-old story of a child grappling with a father’s disapproval
The cover features the colors of the nonbinary flag
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 42 members
THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD
What a blessing having this book in the world. I didn't want to finish it so it took me a few days to do it tbh. I am so glad I was given the opportunity of reading this book, it's so necessary with all the representation it has and it's queer optmistic and we need more of this in this world!
What caught my attention at first was that the book is described as a loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, and I love queer retellings of fairytales. But this book gave me so much more than a retell. I loved the world built there; the fables, the true story of Merrigan, the life at sea and family that is built with Sidra, the love in all its forms - I even forgot it was loosely based on beauty and the beast because it became irrelevant as the book is really really good in itself.
So special to all queer people having this book in the world, but actually everyone should read it.
Thank you to NetGalley and Forest Avenue Press for this eARC!
The Story of the Hundred Promises is an absolutely delightful book. Whimsical and fairytale-ish it tells a heartwarming story of Darragh, and Merrigan, and pulls the reader into a world full of joy and warmth. This book is queer optimism at its finest and is bound to leave you with warm and fuzzy feelings. All the characters are incredibly kind and gracious towards one another and Darragh and his chosen family radiate love and comfort.
I couldn't recommend this book more!
This book is a beautiful example of queer representation. You have all sorts of LGBTQ members represented in a respectful manner as well as a strong trans lead is a beautiful fantastic world. I don’t care too much about retellings so it being a loose retelling of beauty and the beast didn’t really upset me. I could see the influences of the story while also going it’s own way. I love queer fantasy so this book was perfect. Thanks so much to netgalley for letting us read this book!
Thank you to Netgalley for letting me read an arc of this book.
Wow, this story completely blew me away! It was phenomenal and so different to anything I’ve ever read before and I loved how everything connected and the stories wove together. This story so full of trans pride and it was stunning. It’s so rare to find t4t stories and I’m so glad that this book exists because it’s such an incredible love story. I loved the amount of queer representation and the way gender was talked about and explored within these pages. This book gets five stars from me and that’s only because I can’t rate it higher.
Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley, for the Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Neil Cochrane created a beautiful, heartbreaking, delightful, and engrossing world in The Story of the Hundred Promises. I am seldom moved to tears by written words, but this fairy tale had me crying for the characters and for my younger, queer, self; I wonder how things could have been different if the books I read as a teen and young adult had representation like this. The Story of the Hundred Promises needs to be in every high school and public library.
The book summary describes it as a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but I completely forgot about that for much of the story. I've only seen the Disney movie anyway, and never read any other adaptations. I suspect that for lovers of Beauty and the Beast, there will be more references to the story than I noticed personally, but having an intimate knowledge of that tale is not necessary to fully appreciate this novel. This world has its own unique mythos.
The pacing, details, and stories-within-a-story style were perfect- chef's kiss! Cochrane's writing style throughout felt ethereal, like a bedtime story, and comes complete with a happily-ever-after that left me satisfied. As a queer person, I felt an intimate emotional connection with the characters, and I suspect that connection would feel even deeper for a trans person. The emotions and experiences of the characters are authentic in the way only an Own Voices story can be, and my heart is full of gratitude that Cochrane wrote this story to share with us.
This is a beautifully woven story with a diverse offering of representation. There are many individual but connected stories scattered throughout this novel with Darragh's narrative taking the central place throughout. It is a very very loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast but the comparison is mostly just an echoing suggestion than a true likeness. Only the barest of threads are similar from the original fairytale to this version.
Gender is presented and explored in such a fascinating way in this. It took a beat or two to get used to some of the pronouns but it worked very well within the universe once the story was under way. This is an interesting, unique story with a wealth of representation. I loved the main characters and it was just a really good read.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an arc of this in exchange for an honest review.
This book was such a joy to read. For such a fun, fluffy read it really delved into some deeper subject matter that was beautifully handled. The story explores love in all its forms and the discovery of self. Morality, gender, and environmentalism are major themes as well. It was so well written that it didn’t get bogged down by these heavier themes and topics, which I found really refreshing. It really explored the nuances of gender in a very simple and practical way that I’ve never seen in fiction before. The writing style does feel a bit flowery, which I’m not usually a fan of, but I think that it’s a smart choice in this case because it makes the book feel and read like a fairy tale.
I did struggle to get through part 2 a bit because it was hard to see how Merrigan’s backstory related to Darragh’s journey, but once those connections were made I was sucked back in.
Ten years after being driven from his home at the age of fifteen for being trans, Darragh Thorn has found a place for himself and people who love him as a sailor abord the Augstania. When his sister seeks him out to reconcile with his dying father, Darragh sets off on a quest to find the mysterious enchanter who helped him become his true self.
A loose retelling of 'The Beauty and the Beast" that centers queer characters and the nature of storytelling, I thought this was one of the more compelling queer fantasies I have read this year. It truly feels like a fairytale, with with Darragh's kind hearted actions towards strangers granting him the strength and resources he needs to succeed in his quest. The world building hits a sweet spot where there is enough magic and difference from the real world that it's interesting, without being so convoluted and bogged down with slang that it alienates readers. Ever character felt necessary and fleshed out. Even characters who only existed for a page or two to give Darragh advice or a conversation that made him think felt real and breathing.
This book isn't going to be for everyone. It is frank about the way being trans can impact people's relationships with their families and incredibly open, painfully at times, about the nature of love, from romantic to platonic to familial. A great read for those who like queer retellings such as Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh or The Witch's Heart. by Genevieve Gornichec.
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