Hi and welcome to my tour stop for Shadows of Asphodel, a delightful and original dieselpunk romance.
Author: Karen Kincy
Series: Shadows of Asphodel, #1
Published: September 13th 2013
Paperback, 350 pages
Source: Blog tour copy
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?
Of all the subgenres in all the world, dieselpunk romance is my new passion. You may be scratching your head and frowning right about now, but let me tell you this: In Shadows of Asphodel, all the swords, zeppelins, necromancers, love and lust combined into a magical read that made me fall in love not only with the book, but with the genre itself.
Thorough and inspiring, Kincys’s worldbuilding puts more seasoned authors to shame. Dieselpunk is still fairly unexplored, but I felt she included just the right number of diesel-fueled inventions to turn this into a spectacular read. In addition, the alternate history pre-World War I setting was done extremely well, far removed from true events, and yet close enough to make everything that happens easily recognizable. There were times when I wished this to be just a bit more tightly plotted, but overall, it was an excellent read.
In addition to the excellent worldbuilding, Kincy gave us Ardis, a heroine worthy of admiration. As the half-Asian daughter of a courtesan, she was never fully accepted and her life was always a struggle. Even in such impossible circumstances, Ardis grew up to be a warrior – a defender, a killer, or whatever else her employers, the Archmages, deem necessary. And, proving that a tough exterior alone isn’t enough for a spectacular heroine, she has a warm, tender and loyal heart underneath.
However, while Ardis charmed and thrilled me, the necromancer she rescued disappointed me at every turn. I don’t mind a tortured hero at all, but Wendel’s surliness was taken just a bit too far. I couldn’t for the life of me understand what Ardis saw in him, and most of the time, I didn’t believe a single word that came out of his mouth.
I suppose it’s clear that, while I loved the world and the heroine, the romance part of this dieselpunk romance fell a bit flat. After a promising beginning, the relationship lost most of its appeal. However, I stayed firmly on Ardis’ side throughout, and since her side was also Wendel’s, somehow it all worked out.
I firmly believe that Karen Kincy, Shadows of Asphodel series and dieselpunk itself have a lot more to give. It’s is a triangle filled with potential and I’m so happy I came along for the ride.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the author for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.
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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