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8.18.2011

Review: Ward Against Death by Melanie Card

Ward Against Death (Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer #1) by Melanie Card
New Adult, Fantasy, Magic
Paperback $14.99 (292 pages, ENTANGLED PUBLISHING)
Ebook $7.99

Twenty-year-old Ward de'Ath expected this to be a simple job bring a nobleman s daughter back from the dead for fifteen minutes, let her family say good-bye, and launch his fledgling career as a necromancer. Goddess knows he can't be a surgeon the Quayestri already branded him a criminal for trying so bringing people back from the dead it is.
But when Ward wakes the beautiful Celia Carlyle, he gets more than he bargained for. Insistent that she's been murdered, Celia begs Ward to keep her alive and help her find justice. By the time she drags him out her bedroom window and into the sewers, Ward can't bring himself to break his damned physician's Oath and desert her.
However, nothing is as it seems including Celia. One second, she s treating Ward like sewage, the next she's kissing him. And for a nobleman s daughter, she sure has a lot of enemies. If he could just convince his heart to give up on the infuriating beauty, he might get out of this alive...
(Note: This title is more aptly a New Adult or YA cross-over than a true YA title.)

Author Site: MelanieCard.com

New Adult Fantasy Debut Has Promise (3 stars)

In spite of his familial destiny to be a necromancer, Ward de'Ath, trained as a physician. Sworn to serve the sick until they are made well his private pursuit learning surgery has earned him status as a criminal. Forbidden surgeries practiced on corpses don't make for an illustrous career in medicine. Falling back on necromancy he is called upon to wake the daughter of a nobleman for final goodbyes. But when Celia Carlyle wakes her insistence that she was murdered and his oath bind him to her in an adventure to uncover the truth.

There is far more to Celia than meets the eye and Ward soon finds himself so deeply enmeshed in the criminal underworld his past transgressions seem trivial. Getting to the bottom of Celia's murder will lead him deeper into his necromancer roots to the very heart of darkness even as the growing attraction to Celia puts him in greater danger of not only losing his life but his heart as well.

Ah, what a difficult book to review. There is a lot going on in this world. Necromancers, a criminal underworld, a guild of assassins, and more. I'll admit that the premise really did not prepare me for how confusing the world building was going to be. There's magic of a sort but it's never quite defined or explained and in a way that's good. Being dropped into the story and learning bits about the world as you go along can be satisfying. The trouble is, the pacing can be so slow and plodding with choppy drops of action splattered in which makes the world building feel non-existent in areas.

WARD AGAINST DEATH's big strength is its title character. Ward is a bit bumbling, clumsy, and strangely naive. In many ways the entire book from the world building to the disjointed pacing of the plot are a reflection of his personality. I really liked him even though much of the time I wanted to whack him upside the head for his lackings. He's book smart and brave in his own way which endeared him to me greatly. His attraction to Celia actually felt very contrived to me. There's a little too much telling and not enough showing of reasons he finds her attractive. Celia herself felt very flat and bored me with her bad-assery. Her thoughts were very repetitive and gave very little indication she was capable of love or being loved.

From start to finish WARD AGAINST DEATH has the feel of a debut novel. There were definitely a lot of things that bothered me yet on the same token there is great series potential here. If the magic system and world building get further fleshed out and the relationship between Ward and Celia is allowed to blossom naturally I really think this will win me over in the long run. I think readers who enjoyed Maria V. Snyder's Study series or the originality of Holly Black's Curse Workers might find the fresh concept and characters here enjoyable.



Other Reviews:

Notes: Received review copy via NetGalley.


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1 comment:

MyTricksterGod said...

modern urban fantasy always seem so dark.
Or maybe it's just me.
I just haven't seen the kind of urban fantasy I'd like to see. It be best to create it myself, then.

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