I’ll say this about Dark Vow, it’s definitely not like anything else I’ve read. The world is led by 10 Lords of various skills (such as Warrior, Carpenter, Hunter, etc.) Each man answers to a specific Lord, learns that skill and builds his life around it. A woman takes her husband’s Lord.
Jaines is married to a man who follows the Smith. She and Lance work together in their gun smithy, creating weapons and ammunition for their small community. Lance is out of town when a Bounty Hunter enters the shop, wanting Jaines to engrave his gun. Bounty Hunters follow the Arcane Lord. They manipulate magic. And Lance has always told Jaines to stay away from the Arcane. But the Bounty Hunter offers her so much money and inflames her pride enough that she takes the job.
It quickly becomes apparent that with her contribution, she has turned the gun into a magical weapon… the only one that can kill an Arcane. But the deed is done. Unfortunately, when Lance returns, the Hunter shows up at their home and uses the weapon to kill her husband. With Lance’s death, Jaines begins her quest to find the Bounty Hunter again and have her vengeance.
In her journey, she meets Obsidian, a man with intimate knowledge of the Arcane. With him, she learns just how sheltered she has been. She is exposed to some really hard truths about the world and her own life.
I found that I really did like the book. The world building was easy to understand and Jaines was a relatable character with some pretty solid motivation. I felt her grief and her need to avenge her husband. And as she started to develop an attraction toward Obsidian, I could see that too. They have good chemistry. However, I did have trouble with how fast their relationship turned into “love” and how it ended up casting her feelings for Lance in a less valuable light. Maybe with more time, I could have gotten on board with the depths of their feelings. But as it was, it didn’t entirely ring true.
I’m still glad I read it. It was a good change of pace and an interesting story… kind of hard to categorize (maybe alternate history/ fantasy?) — but good, even if it doesn’t fit into a neat little box. Almost 4 stars.
*ARC Provided by NetGalley
Dark Vowby Shona HuskRelease Date: November 14, 2011Publisher: Carina Press