Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Blog Tour Review: Shadows of Asphodel

Hi and welcome to my tour stop for Shadows of Asphodel, a delightful and original dieselpunk romance.

Shadows of AsphodelAuthor: Karen Kincy
Series: Shadows of Asphodel, #1
Published: September 13th 2013
Publisher: Createspace
Paperback, 350 pages
Source: Blog tour copy
Buy: Amazon

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.

About the Author:
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. 

Find the author:

Please make sure to visit other tour stops as well. You can find them all HERE, along with any other information you might need. And of course, don't forget to enter the giveaway below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Ardis sounds like an amazing character Maja, I love MC's who are tough on the outside, but who are also loyal on the inside. She reminds me a bit of Celaena from Throne of Glass. I also think the world building sounds exquisite, the romance seems a bit disappointing, but I still would be willing to give this book a try! Fab review lovely!

  2. You know, the romance sounds like the best part from the synopsis, so it's a shame to see the romantic lead didn't impress you all that much. Still, I've never read - or heard of - dieselpunk which sounds incredibly fascinating and now I'm very curious about this novel. I'll have to check it out for sure. Lovely review, as always, Maja!

  3. A triangle? Wah! However, the rest sounds great! I love that this is dieselpunk and the world sounds intriguing, as does the heroine.

  4. Dieselpunk?? I'd never heard of dieselpunk but it does sound like a great new genre to explore so thanks for enlightening me!

  5. Wasn't this one fabulous? My first dieselpunk and now I want more!
    My stop on the tour is coming up as well and I really am impressed with this one.

    Fabulous review Maja!

  6. Thanks for the giveaway, Maja, and great review :)

  7. I really liked Ardis as well Maja! I liked that she gave Wendel a chance even when no one else would, though I do have some questions as to why necromancy is so hated in a world full of magic and war and death. Definitely interested in reading more dieselpunk for sure:):)

  8. Wendel does seem to be a love/hate character. I've yet to make my own stand with him. Can't wait to dig more into this book. I just haven't had much time to dedicate to it this past few days.

  9. dieselpunk o.o? wow that is new and different... don't think i have heard of that before. I seen this book around thought I think. Wonder if there is more like it. I am glad to hear the worldbuilding was fabulous in this one.

  10. I'm not aware of this genre, but it sounds very interesting. That's great you really liked the start of this new series! I'm certainly curious. Bummer the romance didn't really work, but hopefully things will work out better in the next book.

  11. I don't always like the more surly men, but for some reason I completely fell for Wendel so I actually loved this romance. It's actually one that has stuck with me and I'm not really a romance person. I'm glad that overall you liked this though and I'm really anxious for the next book to see how things turn out. Thanks for hosting a tour stop!

  12. I've become a huge fan of the dieselpunk, steampunk genres. This seems like a really great book although it stinks the romance falls flat. I'll forgive that though since I'm a big fan of books featuring necromancers.
    Great review, another book added to my enormous to read pile. :)

  13. I really love good worldbuilding so that is a huge plus for me. I also love the sound of the characters especially Ardis. Oh dieselpunk! I must read this one. :)

  14. This cover always draws me in, it is just so cool

  15. you really make me curious about this genre. I can't say if I've already tried it or not.... But I don't think so, it seems particular. I'm glad it was a nice discovery.

  16. I haven't read anything in this genre yet and I am so looking forward to it. I had to get on this tour as it is so different. I am glad the world building excelled even though the romance didn't. I have it coming up next week!

  17. I've actually never heard of dieselpunk romance, but it sounds really intriguing, and I'm really glad that the world-building was phenomenal. World-building is really hard to do well without making it seem info-dumpy or too overwhelming to handle, so I'm glad that was handled well. From your description, Ardis must be a kick-butt heroine, and I love strong characters with depth to them.

    Fantastic review, Maja! <3

  18. I had never heard about Dieselpunk, but with a strong heroine and great world building this one sounds so very interesting, even with the romance being a bit more so-so.

    Great review, Maja!

  19. Oh, the romance fell flat? You know that's my favorite part of most stories, Maja, so that's a big disappointment. I do like a hero that is a little contrary because the push and pull make for a charged romance, but I don't like it when the he's such a jerk you never come to like him. Never heard of diselpunk, but it does sound intriguing. Great review, and thanks for the giveaway! :)

  20. Hmmm. Does sound like a great one! And new to me. I'll have to see about adding it to the list. :) Thank you!


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