Title: The Ill-Kept Oath
Author: C.C. Aune
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Source: NetGalley Ebook
Historical fiction at its finest, The Ill-Kept Oath blends an Austen-esque story with magic and mystery in a beautiful story about love and family.
Set in 1819, it follows two girls, cousins and best friends as one moves away from the country to start her Season in London. Even though they are miles apart, the girls remain in close contact through letters and it is these letters which connect their two stories as romance, adventure and a touch of magic befalls the both of them.
There is no one plot to this book. While the description given on Goodreads implies that the girls’ magical legacy is going to be the central focus of the book, it is actually their romantic endeavours which gets centre-stage. Each of the girls’ confusion over their feelings and the feelings of the men they’re interested in is explored in interesting ways and this meshes perfectly with the more supernatural elements of the story, with the magical side of things playing a driving force in those relationships. While the novel itself does feel slow-moving in places, particularly towards the middle, the beginning and ending are perfect, with the final quarter of the book being a pay-off of all the different threads in the novel.
Aune has created incredibly well-structured characters in this novel, each one fitting perfectly into the setting and the role given them. Josephine was an instant favourite of mine – her personality was lively, entertaining and translated well into her story line. Prudence, on the other hand, was very different and it was difficult to relate to her at times. Her irrational behaviour in certain parts of the books is explained later on. She strikes a perfect balance with Josephine and, if she had been any different, I don’t think it would have worked quite as well.
This is probably the area I was least convinced by in the novel. I loved the era The Ill-Kept Oath was set in and I thought both the story and characters fit in beautifully with the setting. However, I had a lot of trouble, especially towards the beginning of the novel, trying to understand the Inheritance – what is was, what the history of it was and why it could not be revealed to the heirs. While it was explained a little better towards the end of the novel, it was a long wait to get that explanation and I found that wait a bit frustrating and confusing.
While there were a couple of minor things which did not quite work for me in The Ill-Kept Oath, I can’t deny that it is a fabulous book. The amount of work that must have gone into it is evident and the writing is reminiscent of Austen’s novels, but brought up-to-date for modern readers. I thoroughly loved the letters between Josephine and Prudence – they brought the story together and really solidified the relationship between the two girls, which quickly became one of my favourites in the novel, despite them rarely being in the same scene together. Aune had created a brilliant novel and I cannot wait for the sequel.