Book Review: Ward Against Death

Ward Against Death (Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer #1)
* ARC Edition
Page Count: 306
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Buy it at Amazon 
Source: Provided by Publisher
Audience: Upper Young Adult, Adult

Ward Against Death is the beginning to a promising new series by Melanie Card. This title was labeled as a young adult book, however, I would think it would work really well as an adult series as well. The characters are old enough to allow them to live well in both the YA and Adult spheres. 

I was originally drawn to this book because of the cover. I loved everything about it. I wanted to understand the distance between the characters, the significance of the graveyard, and the scissors. All of those things became clear as I read. Losing myself in this book was an experience laced with mystery, organized crime, danger, paranormal twists, and hints of romance - all the elements needed for an addictive read. Melanie Card has flawless prose and characters that force you to give them your undivided attention.

Ward, is a reluctant necromancer, who would rather spend his time performing illegal surgeries than raising the dead. Sadly, Ward lives in a time when performing surgery is considered a criminal activity. He often digs up dead bodies to practice his skills and is wanted in several locations for desecrating the dead. I immediately began to think of Edgar Alan Poe as I read these parts. Poe often made money for digging up dead bodies and delivering them to medical schools for students to study. During Poe's time, using cadavers for medical research and practice was considered to be a disgraceful act. I found myself thinking of Ward and Poe often throughout the book. However, in my mind I kept seeing Ward as a young Johnny Depp. The book has a very Tim Burton like darkness about it and I suppose when I think of Burton I also think of Depp. I am curious about where Card got her inspiration for the creation of Ward and if she had any of the same thoughts I had about him.

The other main character, Celia, is the daughter of a wealthy criminal. She has followed in her family's footsteps and spends her time as an assassin. Well, until she's murdered. Celia is awoken by Ward and their adventure begins. She has no idea who wanted her dead or why she would have been a target - other than the obvious killing people for a living thing. Celia is a strong woman who knows how to handle her steel. I found it amusing that she was the strong character in this book and Ward was often seen as the weak link. It was an interesting way to craft the balance between these two as so often the man is the one who is stronger and does all the protecting. I liked Celia's kick butt attitude and her cunning.

Furthermore, I truly enjoyed the history and lore behind the creation of the shadow walker. Tracking down clues and piecing together information about Celia's death and the shadow walker with Celia and Ward was enjoyable. I kept trying to figure out the mystery on my own, but Card writes in such a way that I was a few chapters from the end before things began to click in place.

I did have one major issue as I was reading. I knew that there was going to be some kind of romance at some point and I couldn't help but feel squeamish about it. I mean Celia is dead and Ward isn't. Any romance between the two of them would just be gross, right? Thankfully, Card handles this well. Ward even experiences some of the exact same thoughts that were running through my head. However, after a lot of consternation I began to think maybe I was overreacting. I am a huge fan of vampire novels and vampires (depending on whose writing the lore of the story) are dead. I didn't cringe when Bella kissed Edward. So why should I approach any kisses between Ward and Celia as something gross?

So, overall, this was a great book. There were some spots that dragged a bit for me, therefore, I rated it a 4. I am anxiously awaiting the next installment of the series. If you're looking for a paranormal book full of adventure and mystery, then this is the book for you. 

One Last Gripe: I want to know more about the Master and his role in everything. I didn't get the answers about him I was seeking from this book.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: All of the medical aspects and the history components

First Sentence: Even in death, Celia Carlyle was beautiful.

Favorite Character: Celia

Least Favorite Character:  the Dominus

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…