a review by Evie Kendal
Lenobia’s Vow tells the backstory of one of the teachers at the House of Night. Readers who have followed the series will remember Lenobia as the professor in charge of equestrian studies and protagonist Zoey Redbird’s frequent advisor. As one of the more reliably good-natured adult vampyres in the series, any narrative focused on Lenobia’s past is likely to attract interest from House of Night fans.
This novella is set in 1788 and describes how Lenobia, the bastard daughter of a Baron, went from being a servant in his house to impersonating his daughter, Baroness Cecile, and travelling to the New World to fulfill a contract the Baron made to marry his daughter off to a wealthy nobleman. The novella maintains a third person narration (making it consistent with the first novella, Dragon’s Oath but distinct from the more recent Neferet’s Curse that was written as a series of journal entries). This third person narration allows for a detailed account of the corrupt priest of Lenobia’s hometown, Charles de Beaumont, who is travelling on the same ship to New Orleans, thereby threatening to expose Lenobia’s subterfuge. Like the other novellas of the series, this one contains beautiful sketches introducing each of its nine short chapters.
While on the eight-week boat ride to New Orleans, Lenobia tries to remain hidden from the priest by feigning illness and staying in her quarters. However, every morning before the other young women wake, she roams the beautiful ship and stumbles upon two horses being transported with them. From there it is a small step for her to fall hopelessly in love with the stable boy, a servant named Martin. Since Lenobia is impersonating the betrothed Cecile, this poses somewhat of a problem though. And that’s before Lenobia is Marked as a fledgling vampyre…
My favourite part of this story actually centres on the balance that is provided. There is an evil priest and a genuinely devout nun, snobby rich girls and friendly, modest ones, racism and classism matched with acceptance and tolerance – in short, the novella manages in a very short space to develop three-dimensional characters rather than lazy caricatures. While the threat of sexual violence is ever-present, it is not gratuitously indulged as is the case with Neferet’s Curse, making this novella a lot more pleasant to read. With a likable protagonist and an engaging plot, Lenobia’s Vow is well worth picking up, even for readers heretofore unfamiliar with the House of Night series.