Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy, Romance Publication.Date September 13th 2013 Pages: 350 Published By: Create Space Author Karen Kincy Shadows of Asphodel on Goodreads My review copy: Received from the author via CBB Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.
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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?
Her cheeks warmed. "You're very pale."
"Bloodloss will do that to a man," he said. "That, and an inability to tan."
It had been a death that brought her to Europe, and a hope that kept her there.
She closed the space between them with a swiftness that didn't give her time to think, time to doubt herself. She traced his cheekbone with her fingertips, then curled her hand behind his neck and dragged him down to her. She kissed him.
Shadows of Asphodel is a breathtaking page-turner. The action starts at page one of this book and it practically never stops. The many twists and turns, unexpected plot developments and reveals, combined with all the layers of character building and magnificent historical backdrop, result in a novel that is not only action-packed and epic, but also quite intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging. I loved the setting of this book! It's not so much a steampunk novel, as it is dieselpunk - and the first dieselpunk I've ever read at that! We've got the fantastic and beautifully described historical setting, but then we've also got guns and cars, and some other things you wouldn't see in a typical steampunk novel. I thought that was really cool and I loved how swiftly and skilfully Karen weaved together the history with the modern world. I mean, come on! Rudolf Diesel himself is one of the characters in this book. How incredibly cool is that?!
Karen's descriptions of Ardis and Wendel's relationship - and particularly the spine-tingling sexual tension between them - put the steam in this steampunk novel! The sex scenes were just perfect for my taste - not too explicit, very tasteful and subtle, and yet completely mind-blowing (in a good way!). I loved the dynamics of their relationship. They are two very different people, with seemingly nothing in common, thrown together and expected to survive, all the while trying to make sense of what's happening between them and how it affects their lives. It was hot and heartpounding, yes, but it was also quite brilliant and complex. The romance between them, while maybe a tiny bit awkward and rushed at the beginning, was overall completely mesmerizing and convincing. I loved it!!!
Both the lead characters were simply awesome. Ardis, the sword-wielding, half-Chinese mercenary for Austria-Hungary, and Wendel, the mysterious, badass yet vulnerable Necromancer. They make an explosive duo. Their interactions are full of tension and chemistry, but they don't lack humor either. They're both sharp and tough, guarded and wary of everyone around them, and yet their connection and strong attraction to each other is undeniable. I liked Ardis a lot, but I liked Wendel even more. He is one extremely complex character, with a dark, secret-filled past and some heavy burdens to carry in his life. The more we learn about him, the better we understand him and the more we warm up to him. He was definitely my favorite character in this book.
I'll be honest, I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. Adult steampunk (or dieselpunk) novels tend to be hit or miss with me, especially if they involve sex scenes. Thankfully, Karen Kincy's Shadows of Asphodel turned out to be a perfectly balanced blend of fantasy, science fiction, history and romance, and once I picked it up, I did not want to put it down. The world and character building in this book is supreme! The action sequences are described with such amazing clarity, they're almost cinematic. And the plot line is well thought-out, captivating and full of tension (and not just sexual tension, either). It's a book I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good story set against a glamorous and vibrant historical background. You will not be disappointed with this one!
About the author:
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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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