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The Vow: A novella by Jody Hedlund
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The Vow: A novella

by Jody Hedlund

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The Vow- a short prequel to Jody Hedlund’s YA Debut An Uncertain Choice serves to whet the appetite for the main course- introducing the major characters, and the background of the plot- and promising a hint of romance.
I would call it a sweet story- but the sad ending rather renders that meaningless- its tightly plotted and for the most part well written considering the use of the first person narrative.

The Medieval setting was generally well done- high praise indeed from a Medievalist such as myself, as I think it can be difficult for authors who are not familiar with the setting, or have never visited Europe to be faithful to this period. Although the country is fictitious, there were, shall we say, distinct shades of Englishness, with some of the names and titles.

My only complaints were historical, and some may be seen as a little finicky, but bear with me. The first was pockets- or more especially the make lead having a pocket large enough to hold a girl’s bracelet- in his leather Jerkin, no less. Not only were pockets not used in the Medieval Period, but if there’s one garment to which pockets would seem wholly unsuited, it would be that. I also noticed what seemed to be a couple of Hollywood like tropes- knights wearing armour almost all the time, including at a funeral service, for instance (why?), or a messenger mounted on a warhorse- an animal generally unfit for everyday riding.

My biggest gripe, however, was the mention of torture. I’m not saying such things never happened, and I’m not about to whinge about it being unsuitable for YA readers- but I felt it the inclusion of the scene in which Rosemarie sees two torture victims was unnecessary and unrealistic. Unnecessary because it seems to be included only for her to be repulsed by it, so show what a good, sweet, compassionate little girl she is, and how horrid the Middle Ages were.
Unrealistic because, contrary to the image presented in many movies (and some ‘torture museums’ that are largely modern invention….) torture was nothing like as prevalent or common in medieval society as we are led to think. Especially not in England, where it was actually contrary to common law, and only just considered acceptable for the very worst crimes such as treason or heresy- and even then, in all my years of studying the period I have never come across the method mentioned in this story.

So the idea of an evil sheriff summarily subjecting people to the most horrible or tortures for trivial offenses just seems wholly implausible- more like something a cartoon villain would do, than a reflection of historical fact. Also, I have to admit, Rosemarie’s attitudes were sometimes annoyingly modern and self-righteous- condemning the sheriff for killing infected people infected with the plague. Seriously- He was trying to contain one of the deadliest diseases known to man- he couldn’t just let people escape from quarantined areas to spread it abroad- and Rosemarie whining about how they were just trying to find food just came across as unbelievably naïve in the circumstances. Compassion and humanity is one thing- rank stupidity another.

In spite of the paragraphs chronicling the negatives, I did enjoy this Novella, and I look forward to getting into the full length follow up as soon as possible. A worthwhile read, with a few reservations, that could perhaps benefit from a little more research.
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  Medievalgirl | Oct 4, 2016 |
The perfect foundation novella to set the stage for An Uncertain Choice. The writing was smooth and crisp with a breathless budding romance and a sobering ending. It in no way felt like a mere novella, except that it was much too short (because I wanted more lol). It will make you smile, make your heart ache, and make you run right out to find a copy of An Uncertain Choice. Which is probably the point :) ( )
  MeezCarrie | Aug 31, 2015 |
Tragedy and despair have come knocking at the door. If the door remains shut will it go away?

Lady Rosemarie's life has been turned upside down in more ways the one. With her plans for the future completely demolished, she holds her head high with a determination to be the best that she can be.

How can Jody Hedlund snare my attention so effectively in just seven chapters? My only regret is that I can't start An Uncertain Choice quite yet. I was quickly swept away to the late 1300s in this novella. The detail and language is exquisite. Definitely worth a read. ( )
  BookwormMama14 | Jun 15, 2015 |
Tragedy and despair have come knocking at the door. If the door remains shut will it go away?

Lady Rosemarie's life has been turned upside down in more ways the one. With her plans for the future completely demolished, she holds her head high with a determination to be the best that she can be.

How can Jody Hedlund snare my attention so effectively in just seven chapters? My only regret is that I can't start An Uncertain Choice quite yet. I was quickly swept away to the late 1300s in this novella. The detail and language is exquisite. Definitely worth a read.

Published by Zondervan ( )
  BookwormMama14 | Jun 15, 2015 |
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