Jaines Cord plans to kill the man who murdered her husband, even though killing a Bounty Hunter is said to be impossible. One bullet took away her livelihood, her home and her love. One bullet made by her. Fired from the gun she completed for the Arcane Bounty Hunter.
Obsidian wears the scars of disobeying the powerful Arcane Union. He barely escaped with his life and now lives quietly, in a town the lawmen forgot. When Jaines arrives asking too many questions, he’s faced with a decision. Help her or run…again. Obsidian knows that if he flees he’ll always be looking over his shoulder. His name is one of the first on the Bounty Hunter’s death list.
Yet when Obsidian is offered an opportunity to stop the stone taking over his body in exchange for retrieving the gun, he asks Jaines for her help. Now Jaines must choose: a dead man’s vengeance or a living man’s hope?
This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I was browsing on Net Galley a while ago and saw this book. I really liked both the cover and what the blurb said and thought that the world-building could be rather interesting given the use of words like Arcane, Bounty Hunter, dead man’s vengeance or a living man’s hope.” I can only say two negative thins about Dark Vow. The first is why did it take me so long to get around to reading and writing this review? And the second is that I can’t go out and get the sequel (hint…hint).
Ms Husk has developed a really interesting world that appears in some ways to be post apocalyptic, others alternate history with magic that features a strong capable heroine, a damaged almost anti-hero, secrets, and a fascinating religion that governs all aspects of life including the time of the day and what your occupation is or can be. There are 10 Gods or Lords and each has a segment of the day that belongs to them. Depending on their name they are also the patron god for particular trade. For example The Smith Lord would govern smithies and anything else that fell within the metal working area to include the craftsmen themselves. Women aren’t formally admitted to any of the trade unions although they can assist in some.
Jaines was one of those rare women who actually knew and practiced a trade. She was a smith although she had to work under the supervision of a Master Smith. Jaines learned the trade from her father alongside her four brothers. She married a man who was a Master Smith so they worked together. As the blurb states Jaines’ husband was killed by a bullet she made fired from a gun she had just finished. Faced with the difficult situation of having to find a living without husband or legitimate work Jaines vows that she will avenge her husband’s death. It is along her travels that she encounters Obsidian.
I will admit that I have a weakness for anti-heros and their path to love or at least partial redemption. Obsidian fit that perfectly. When he was first introduced I will admit I had my doubts that he would have any heroic tendencies but as their journey after the Arcane Bounty Hunter continued Jaines was able to get beneath Obsidian’s callused exterior and drag out the person he tried to be before.
I really enjoyed how Ms Husk developed her characters and showed that things are not always how they seem regardless of how much you think you know about them. I also liked how the Ten Lords were incorporated seamlessly; I really got a sense of exactly how much religion ruled everything without inciting fanaticism. The main trope used to establish the story I have seen only a few times before in short stories I had enjoyed so it was extremely gratifying to see it used to good effect again.
Like I said at the beginning of this review I really hope that Ms Husk continues to write in this particular world. I really want to know what happens next. Ms Husk is a new to me author but after reading Dark Vow I believe I need to go check out her backlist. I give Dark Vow an A.