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Shadows of Asphodel by Karen Kincy
Published September 13th 2013
Age Group: Adult
Series: Shadow of Asphodel #1
Source: ecopy from Author
When Ardis discovers a man bleeding to death on the battlefield, she knows she has to walk away.
1913. In her work as a mercenary for Austria-Hungary, Ardis has killed many men without hesitation. One more man shouldn’t matter, even if he manages to be a charming bastard while he stands dying in the snow.
But when he raises the dead to fight for him, she realizes she must save his life.
If a necromancer like Wendel dies, he will return as a monster—or so the rumors say. Ardis decides to play it safe and rescues him. What she doesn’t expect is Wendel falling to one knee and swearing fealty. Ardis never asked for the undying loyalty of a necromancer, but it’s too late now.
Ardis and Wendel forge an uneasy alliance underscored with sexual tension. Together, they confront rebels, assassins, and a conspiracy involving a military secret: robotically-enhanced soldiers for a world on the brink of war. But as Ardis starts to fall for Wendel, she realizes the scars from his past run more deeply than she ever imagined. Can Ardis stop Wendel before his thirst for revenge destroys him and everyone else around him?
Note: This book is an Adult and may be unsuitable for readers under 18.
Shadows of Asphodel is an adult diselpunk. This is the first diselpunk that I have encountered, and honestly I wasn’t really sure what the difference would be from steampunk. I think the main difference that I found was with the weaponry in the story. The story is set in a very turbulent time in history, and I really enjoyed the way Karen Kincy incorporated the historical events as they were occurring throughout the story. She used the real people and the real events and interspersed them throughout the story. Even though I was a history major, I have not read many historical fiction books, especially not ones with as much steamy romance or urban fantasy/diselpunk elements. I have to say it was a really interesting mix. I don’t think I have ever encountered a story quite like Shadows of Asphodel. And it’s unique-ness was my favorite thing about the story. I loved Karen’s ability to combine elements from different genres so flawlessly.
Ardis and Wendel are the two main characters of this story and they are quite the pair. Holy cow, they might be two of the most guarded characters that I have read about in a long time. Getting either one of them to talk about themselves or reveal anything was like pulling teeth. And they both had such intense pasts that a few times I just wanted to shake them until they told me everything. They threw each other for a loop because neither one of them behaved exactly like the other thought they would. Wendel wasn’t quite as evil or repulsive as Ardis imagined a necromancer would be, and Ardis actually gave Wendel the time of day. (well, after a little while anyways.) I liked how much they surprised each other. Whenever I pick up an adult novel, I am looking for some good romance. And Shadows of Asphodel was full of sexual tension. These two had it in spades. I really liked how they interacted with each other, romantically and otherwise. I don’t even know who I liked more. I started out liking Ardis more, but I think somewhere along the way Wendel won me over.
I am a huge character driven reader, so I liked how well developed the main characters were in Shadows of Asphodel, but the world building was really impressive as well. There was so much going on, and the setting felt like such a big scale because they were on boats and on trains and traveling all around. It felt like a global novel. (if that makes any sense.) The pacing for the most part was good. There was always a lot going on, so for the majority of the book it felt fast paced. But a couple of spots it lagged for me. Just for a couple of pages at a time though, and then I was swept right back up in the excitement of the story. This is certainly a series that I am interested in continuing. It’s hard for me to describe this book because it’s like a beautiful mashup of a bunch of different things. Karen Kincy took history and magic and the setting and everything else and wove it into an incredibly interesting and unique story.
Karen Kincy (Redmond, Washington) can be found lurking in her writing cave, though sunshine will lure her outside. When not writing, she stays busy gardening, tinkering with aquariums, or running just one more mile. Karen has a BA in Linguistics and Literature from The Evergreen State College.
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