Book Review: The Ill-Kept Oath

IKOcoverSometimes you come across a novel that takes your breath away. Fellow author and friend C.C. Aune shared the manuscript for her debut novel with me a few years ago, and it blew my mind. Here’s one of my favorite bits:

Prudence cast furtive glances round the salon, taking in the splendor of more gentlemen than she’d seen in her life. The place abounded with broad shoulders, tobacco-scented jackets, and booming male laughter.

So one of the heroines of The Ill-Kept Oath enters a drawing room filled with prospective beaus, hoping for romance but finding harrowing intrigue instead. Likewise, readers who open this book will find themselves drawn into rich townhouses and grand country manors, where they might expect to find only young women aiming for marriage and hoping for love, but where a pair of old trunks filled with magical items soon drive the plot in a wholly unexpected direction. A talking ring, rampaging trolls, and a secret society of mages and warriors all conspire to lure heroines Prudence and Josephine away from the typical and into the extraordinary. While Aune revels in the fanciful, she keeps her prose and setting firmly grounded in the historical. Beautifully written in Austen-like language, the novel is filled with authentic details, from the delicate choreography of early waltzes to the gory horror of an amputation without anesthesia or antibiotics.

I rarely give out five stars, but this story outdoes another favorite novel—Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell—in its literary mix of the mannered and the magical. The Ill-Kept Oath was one of those books I truly couldn’t put down—I stayed up late and resented every intrusion by family, friends, and pets until I’d read the final word. I’m almost as excited about C.C.’s release as I am about mine (A Wizard’s Forge comes out September 19), and I cannot wait to see where her series goes next.

You can read C.C.’s marvelous story yourself when it’s released September 27, 2016. In the meantime, I encourage you to follow her on Twitter or her Facebook page, or check out her blog at One Year of Letters.


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