Title: Ward Against Death
Author: Melanie Card
Release Date: August 2nd, 2011
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
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…
Summary from Goodreads.com
My Review: In Ward Against Death you hit the ground running and the action doesn’t let up until the last page . Ward finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation for Celia, the only major problem? She’s already dead! As a necromancer he has the ability to bring the dead back to life for fifteen minutes to say good bye to their loved ones. That is exactly what he thinks he is going to do for Celia, until she begs him to help her solve her murder and he caves to her request. They spend the novel hunting down clues, trying to figure out who they can trust and learning more about each other. While they do struggle with trusting each other, and rightly so, they quickly discover that they need one another to solve this murder and the people responsible for it. There is a quote from Celia’s point of view that describes their relationship well:
“What a pair she and Ward were. Life and death. The Light Son and the Dark Son. Or just the Goddess? Two sides of the same coin? Perhaps they had more in common than she’d first thought.”
Celia and Ward are having difficulty getting along, but when she comes to the realization that they actually complement each other quite well and are stronger together, she quickly comes to rely on Ward and him on her.
While there are paranormal elements and you do get both Ward and Celia’s point of view in this novel, it is still a fantasy, not paranormal. The paranormal things are prevalent, but it read like a fantasy novel would. For example, we find ourselves learning about a strange world not in modern times, it has a completely different mythology and way of living and a quest for the characters to work through to discover more about themselves and the companions with them. There is a subplot throughout the novel that touches on the romantic spark between Ward and Celia, but it is not the focus of the novel. The plot devotes most of its time developing scenery and characters, the overall mission and Celia and Ward’s role in the web of deceit they have found themselves in. The two of them were never quite sure who to trust and where to turn to next and I found myself wondering the same thing right along with them. The clues are peppered through the novel and I had my guesses as to whom they were up against, but the why kept me stumped.
The mystery surrounding this novel is what made it stand out most. There is the overall question of Celia’s murder, but you also have Ward’s unknown abilities and Celia’s condition to riddle out as well. Ward is a necromancer, but he is a physician as well. He has a secret desire to perform surgery, but it is forbidden in his world. There are many points in the novel that allude to him being capable of much more, but his true powers are never tapped into fully and I am left wondering if there is more to him than we have seen so far. The nature of Celia’s condition is also unknown. She should be dead, but all of her actions and bodies reactions point to something more. I have absolutely no idea where Melanie can take these enigmas in the future, but I know I will be there ready to explore them when she does.
Overall, this was a great first installment in a new series. The mythology was fascinating and the action was completely engrossing. I could not get enough of this world and look forward to seeing what Ward and Celia are going to do next.
FTC: I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. (Thank you!)