Neil Cochrane’s novel The Story of the Hundred Promises (publication date: October 4, 2022) uses the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” to launch a sweeping fantasy quest that confronts generational trauma. When Darragh Thorn uses a magic rose to transform and align his body with his masculine gender identity, his father, who refuses to recognize him as anything other than a girl named Beauty, banishes him. After ten years of adventure on the high seas, Darragh returns home to find his father gravely ill and sets out to search for an enchanted cure.
Darragh’s story is punctuated with inclusive fairy tales that work to establish a world of queer optimism where love transcends heteronormative patterns. In the beautiful fairy tale that lends the book its title, a farmer, herder, and blacksmith wish for a child to love and are instructed to offer one hundred promises of acceptance for their future child to secure their heart’s desire. The novel centers queer relationships while tenderly advocating for the self-definition and acceptance that beats beneath the plot of traditional fairy tales.
While not a strict retelling, the book uses key symbols, characters, and themes from “Beauty and the Beast” including roses, thorns, statues, books, ineffective fathers, ships, sorcery, and the construct of choice. It is an inspiring read for fantasy lovers eager to envision a more beautiful and inclusive world.
Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
Kelly Jarvis teaches classes in literature, writing, and fairy tale at Central Connecticut State University, The University of Connecticut, and Tunxis Community College. She lives, happily ever after, with her husband and three sons in a house filled with fairy tale books. She is also Enchanted Conversation’s special project’s writer.