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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…

306 pages, ebook

First published June 23, 2011

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About the author

Melanie Card

6 books287 followers
I have always been drawn to story telling. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t telling a story in my head or on paper. In grade school, we had journal writing time which I turned into story telling time, weaving tales of magic and adventure that mimicked the fairy tales and myths that I loved to read. It was there, with the help of two very special teachers, that I nurtured this love and started my journey as a writer.

I write fantasy, paranormal romance, and everything in between, seasoned with a good dash of adventure and mystery. Join me on my tales of magic, adventure, and romance.

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5 stars
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244 (37%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 158 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,572 reviews33.9k followers
July 10, 2011
This book is heaps and heaps of fun! I didn't know quite what to expect going into it, but I was hooked from the very first page and had a grand old time following Ward on his adventures.

There are so many awesome elements to keep you on the edge of your seat. Cool action sequences. People brought back from the dead. "Seeing smoke." A seductive villain who will steal your soul with a kiss. An assassin who kills someone by throwing a dagger through his throat. Oooo! Just the kind of action I like in a book.

Ward himself is also a really interesting hero, in that he's very sensitive, painfully honorable, and dead set on doing the right thing. He's also decisive, game for anything, and inconveniently attracted to Celia, the undead girl he's brought back to life who guilts him into helping her find her murderer. A great deal of the book is actually spent from her POV, and the dual perspectives are surprisingly well done.

I loved all the medical talk (Ward is also a physician). I loved Celia, who is a seriously kick-ass heroine, taking down attackers with incredible speed and strength and skill. I loved the descriptions of Ward's necromancy, which actually seems to take some, you know, concentration and power and focus. This is a fantastic YA crossover debut, and if things veer a little too often towards repetitive misunderstandings or romance novel territory, I'm okay with it since the rest of the book is so great. Plus the lovesick fixation is actually coming from Ward, since Celia really can't be bothered with this guy at first. I liked the role reversal, and I liked how their relationship developed.

This book is such a well-written, enjoyable read and I got out of it exactly what I didn't get out of The Girl in the Steel Corset: nuanced characters, the promise of an appealing romance, well-plotted action, fun adventures, rich world-building, and clever use of magic. I can't wait to find out what happens next to this reluctant necromancer...and I bet you're really going to like him, too.

This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher. Recommended for older teens and adults only, as this is more of a YA cross-over than traditional young adult novel.

Completely Irrelevant Side Note:
Profile Image for Jillian -always aspiring-.
1,821 reviews198 followers
July 17, 2015
(Actual Rating: 4.5 stars)

My first thoughts after finishing Ward Against Death: Oh my goodness, I loved this book so much, but now I have to wait a while for the sequel to meet these characters again.  Darn it, I read this too fast!

Ward Against Death, debut novel from Melanie Card, is the kind of book that should make a first-time novelist proud.  Great main characters, awesome world-building, gripping plot, suspense, action, humor. . .whatever could go wrong here?  All of those elements, when mixed well in just the right doses, hold so much potential to make a story great. . .and Ward Against Death was pretty darn great in my eyes.

The cover isn't the best representative of this book.  If I were to have passed this book in a bookstore, I would likely have turned my nose up at it because it looks like a paranormal romance trying to appeal to the YA crowd by having two younger people on the cover. . .but this book isn't paranormal or even romance -- at least not in the traditional or expected ways.  No, this book. . .this book is wonderful, honest-to-goodness fantasy in a realm all its own.

The story centers on Edward de'Ath, a.k.a. Ward, a bumbling twenty-year old necromancer with questionable powers.  Don't let his scholarly appearance and naïveté fool you, though: he's actually been on the wrong side of the law quite a few times, to the point that he was even kicked out of the Physician's Academy.  Though his main goal is to become a surgeon (an illegal profession in his world), he works a side-job of waking the dead for temporary periods -- and one such job is how he meets Celia, a nobleman's beautiful but dead daughter who claims she is in danger and must get out of her father's house.  What's a poor necromancer to do?

Honestly, I loved Ward because of his struggles as a character.  When we meet him in the story, he's such an unsure hero, a strange mixture of Ichabod Crane and Edmond Dantes blended with the characteristics of a scholar, a necromancer, and a physician.  (Yes, he's that fun of a character.  And he knows his stuff too!) Personally, I've always liked reading about characters who slowly grow into themselves and realize their potential and strength over a period of time.  That kind of slow and steady growth makes their adventures and journeys so much more fulfilling.  From this first novel, I can definitely say that Ward's adventures and journeys will be very fulfilling as he continues to grow and become as a character.

On the flip side, Celia was. . .well, to put it bluntly, badass.  Expect her to be a damsel in distress?  Expect her to be a whiner as she waits around for Ward to do all the work?  Hah!  No, believe me, she is definitely more akin to Buffy than Bella Swan!  And what a relief that was to me!  Prior to reading the novel, I fully expected to dislike Celia (since the blurb for the book doesn't really paint her in the best light), but she too grows throughout the novel.  Yes, she has her flaws, but she doesn't stay stagnant and stubborn as many flawed characters often do.

The best thing I can say about these two as they grow into being a pair is that they bring out better in each other. Ward's strength solidifies after a bit of time under Celia's influence -- and Celia's cold hard-edged personality begins to soften and chip away into a different kind of power that shows care and compassion for another human being.  The "romance" between them is much more a companionship born out of necessity, though chemistry and attraction weasel their ways into Ward and Celia's interactions.  The back and forth banter between the two offers some of the best moments in the book -- so, yes, there is substance in this potential relationship.

This story's world in and of itself is a surprisingly rich and potentially fascinating creation.  The world-building sometimes even showed a certain Tamora Pierce-esque flair due to the inclusion of a creator Goddess, a branched magic system, intrigues between humans and magic users, and even a certain level of prejudice coming from various areas (examples: nobles looking down on commoners, magic users looking down on necromancers, physicians looking down on surgeons, etc.).  The various social norms for this world were even more on display since the hero and heroine themselves are rather "quirky" in their roles and their ideas of who they truly want to be.  This world has so much potential, so I really hope that in future installments Card will really delve even more so into showing off her creation in all its shades and ambiguities.

As a storyteller, Card still has areas to hammer out in regards to her narrative -- repetitions in phrasing, drawn-out character ignorance, sudden solutions and lightbulb moments that teeter on the edge of deus ex machina -- but she presents such a very good package with this novel that it's so easy to overlook the flaws.  The ending in and of itself felt a bit rushed (thus the reason why my five-star reading experience was knocked down to an official rating of four stars); I wish the last two chapters could have been expanded a bit for exposition's sake.  What started out as a strong book ended not with the bang I had been expecting but rather a whisper.  However, the story is a solid one that keeps you engrossed and intrigued, if only because of the characters and the questions of what their fates will be.

Needless to say, I am eagerly anticipating any and all sequels, so keep them coming, Ms. Card.  I will be reading.  

Now the question is, dear Goodreader, will you come along for at least the ride to be offered in this first installment, Ward Against Death? I very much hope you will consider it.

Note: I received an advanced copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,723 reviews1,278 followers
January 25, 2015
“It’s just that I don’t tend to work on live patients.” He reached for his scissors, leaning so close he could feel the heat radiating from her body.
“Let me put you at ease.” She blew against his neck. The cavern grew uncomfortably warm. “I’m not alive.”

This was an interesting story, but I have to admit to getting very confused in places.

The characters in this were quite different. Celia was a dead assassin, trying to figure out who had killed her, and very much rocking to the beat of her own drum (and screw everybody else), whilst Ward was at times a gifted doctor, but at other times a bit of a bumbling idiot.

“He didn’t know where he was going or what he was doing, and now he stood in the middle of the street carrying a corpse.

Ward seemed very quick to forget that Celia was dead in this story, even though he was the necromancer who had re-animated her, and at times I was worried that he was going to totally throw caution to the wind, and indulge in a bit of necrophilia (which is a bit gross really).

“Besides, he couldn’t let a pretty, beautiful, stunning, sexy, bod- face distract him.
She. Was. Dead.
There was a law against what his body wanted.”

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The storyline in this really confused me. Celia was killed, but we didn’t know who by, and then when they started to work things out, the explanation as to what had been going on was as clear as mud. Having read a couple of chapters twice I still couldn’t figure it out! Something about Celia’s father, an Innecroestri, a scholar, the Dominus, and a shadow walker. I really do not have a clue.

The ending to this was likewise confusing, but I’m pretty sure the good guys won… I think.

6 out of 10
Profile Image for Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker.
596 reviews370 followers
July 26, 2011
It's been a long time since one character simply outshined all others and carried a book. That is what happened in this book. Ward was simply adorable, charming, goofy, clumsy, brave, loyal, and so many other descriptive adjectives I could come up with. I wanted to hug him, scold him, laugh at him, fear for him, and congratulate him.

The story was good but really wasn't outstanding. My biggest problem with it is confusion. Especially in the beginning, I couldn't figure out the organizations involved/mentioned. Celia, the other main character in the story, would mention her dad being part of one organization, she being part of another organization, and then mention yet another organization and then the story would just continue. I couldn't figure out what was what. Eventually, I was less confused.

Besides my confusion, the middle seemed to drag a bit. It did pick up eventually, and I liked the ending.

So, why 4 stars when I really seemed to only complain in this review? Well, it was simply Ward. He really is so much fun that I absolutely encourage everyone to read this book. If you don't love Ward after reading it, there is something wrong.
Profile Image for Jess the Romanceaholic.
1,033 reviews468 followers
June 29, 2011
This is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.

Expected Release Date: August 2, 2011
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Imprint: N/A
Author’s Website: http://melaniecard.com/
My Source for This Book: Netgalley
Part of a Series: Yes, Book 1, Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer
Series Best Read In Order: N/A
Steam Level: Warm

I don't normally start reviews off this way, but I honestly think that this was one if not the best books I've read all year, and since it's almost July at the time of my writing this, that's definitely saying something.

In Ward's world, magic is commonplace and some things that we take for granted are completely forbidden, such as surgery. Having always wanted to be a physician, Ward was kicked out before completing his training because of his penchant for grave-robbing -- a distasteful but necessary occupation for one who wants to study the illicit practice of surgery. Now forced to be a Necromancer for the rich, his job is to bring back those who have recently died for fifteen minutes so that their families can make peace with the deceased.

Hired by a rich man to wake Celia Carlyle, he is astonished when not only does she insist that she's been murdered rather than having been simply "ill" as her family suggests, but she also sleeps with a dagger under her pillow, dresses in men's clothing, and attempts to escape out the window. Knowing that her disappearance will result in an accusation of grave-robbing, he follows her trying to convince her that she must return. Instead Celia invokes Ward's Physician's Oath -- an unbreakable vow to help all those who ask for assistance, and one punishable by eternal torture in the afterlife if broken.

Making his decision, he follows her, having to re-wake her several times as the fifteen-minute limit of the waking spell is reached. At risk of permanently disturbing the "balance" between the worlds, he performs a dangerous spell to attempt to allow her to remain "awake" for a longer period, when something goes wrong. In addition to the fact that he's been forced to improvise with the required ingredients for the spell, he is interrupted before he can be certain his spell has been completed, but when Celia regains consciousness and helps to fight off their attackers, he assumes that everything worked as it should have.

However, it soon becomes apparent that his intended spell did not yield the expected results, as Celia shows no signs of decay, and in fact, actually seems... healthier than before.

Complicating matters is his own undeniable attraction towards her, but relations with the dead are strictly forbidden, and despite the fact that she eats, breathes, and walks, there is no denying that she had died and is therefore completely off-limits.

Add to that the fact that Celia is obviously not simply the pampered daughter of a rich noble, and Ward is soon drawn into a dangerous world of forbidden magic, assassinations, and deception.

One point of note is that while I have labeled this as Young Adult for my own convenience, it is more of a New Adult/Upper YA Fantasy. Not having read a lot of Young Adult in my life, I'm not certain just how important this distinction is, only that it was made and I felt it was wise to point it out. I think the biggest difference is that the main characters are no longer teenagers, but are instead both in the first stages of real adulthood, complete with all of the complications that come along with that stage of life

I admit, I'm actually having a hard time believing that this is a debut novel. Ms. Card's website and Goodreads profile list this as her only work, but I wonder if she's written any previous novels under a different name. I must do some Googlefu and see what I can discover, because I'm absolutely in love with her writing style and am thirsting for more.

It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that I will be preordering any and all future books in this series, and I have a feeling I will be fangirling all over this one for a long time to come.

Recommended for fans of kick-butt heroines who reluctantly soften as they mature, heroes who actually have to work to earn the title, and an intriguing paranormal-fantasy universe to explore.

A very enthusiastically solid 5/5 Stars

Profile Image for Crowinator.
806 reviews354 followers
July 9, 2011
I read this Netgalley arc on my Kindle while sitting in my hotel lobby waiting for my airport shuttle to take me to the New Orleans airport (I had three hours to kill), and then finished it on the plane back to Denver.

Interestingly, I’ve now read two novels featuring young scholarly men who started out as surgeons, or studying to be surgeons, and ended up necromancers: this one, and Johannes Cabal the Necromancer. In Ward’s universe, surgery is illegal, while in Johannes Cabal’s, necromancy is, but it’s a curious parallel, as both have been kicked out of physician’s organizations and are in frequent trouble with the law (and in Johannes’ case, angry village mobs, as well).

Ward de’Ath has a job (and character) sort of like Ned in Pushing Daisies, and I kept picture Lee Pace’s earnest vulnerability and beautiful, shy smile when reading this book. Ward gets paid to people back from the dead for a short time (15 minutes), so their families and friends can have closure: they say good-bye and, I imagine, ask any last minute questions, like “why did you take me out of the will, you ungrateful jerk?”, or make important confessions, like, “Please forgive me, I’ve been having an affair with your wife.” (Maybe I’m a cynic, but to me, the people who need this sort of closure are people who want something. It has to be traumatic for the dead person, right?) Like Ned, Ward gets embroiled in a mystery when he awakens the daughter of a nobleman, Celia, who immediately tells him she’s been murdered and asks for his help in escaping. Because Ward is a sweetheart with a noble streak a mile long, he agrees, despite a distinct lack of experience protecting young ladies from killers. For Ward, Celia is chaos incarnate: she’s an assassin; her murder is part of a very complicated magical conspiracy; and she’s so mysterious and seductive and kick-ass that Ward has to keep reminding himself she’s dead, so he’ll stop falling in love with her.

Poor guy, he doesn’t stand a chance.

This novel is narrated by Ward and Celia in alternating chapters, a favorite stylistic choice of mine when there are two main leads. Luckily, they are equally strong viewpoint characters: Ward is a darling, who’s almost aggressively modest and awkward with hidden stores of awesome that he only occasionally lets show; and Celia is a decisive person with a lot of agency, able to go with the flow and do risky, impulsive things one minute and plan a complex scheme the next. The story flows seamlessly between them; there was no wishing I could get back to the other character to see what was really going on. They both discover clues separately that, together, tell the whole story. Even though it kept both of their viewpoints relevant, that was also the only truly frustrating aspect of this book; neither Ward nor Celia fully trust each other, so they rarely share information unless they have to. While a lot of tension develops from the secrets they keep from each other, I started to get annoyed with the two of them because of how frequently they waffled between trust and distrust. Celia would be on the verge of trusting Ward, for example, and then she would see him sneak out one night and immediately go ALL THE WAY back to her paranoid, “He’s in on it! He’s spying on me!” conspiracy. Taking a little step back is one thing, but it’s like they kept hitting the reset button on their relationship.

Maybe that’s why this read a little more like a paranormal romance novel to me than a fantasy with some romance elements. Eventually, they do start to feel companionship for each other and work together, but they also develop individually: Ward becomes more canny (not a lot but he’s getting there) and shows evidence that he might be a more powerful necromancer than he thinks (if only he would just trust himself!); and Celia’s cold ruthlessness softens a little without her losing her teeth. Still, they are fighting their attraction right up until the last page. Ward has ethical issues becoming involved with a dead girl, even though the spell he uses partway through the novel, after she keeps slipping back into being dead, to keep her going long-term seems to have done more than raise her – she’s not decomposing or showing any signs of actually not being alive. (She’s Chuck from Pushing Daisies, in other words.)

Even though Card does an adequate job world-building, the god and magic system and scenery seemed vague to me, a stage backdrop for the character drama. There were Inquisitors and Trackers and a criminal society and a Goddess and Light and Dark Sons, but I don’t remember many details, especially about the setting itself (aside from the endless sewers). Not that I minded while I was reading it but now, writing this review, I can’t really remember much outside the characters. That’s usually a sign to me that there weren’t a lot of details to the larger world-building, although I’ll be honest and admit that it could be just an indication that I read this while waiting around to fly home from a conference, when it’s difficult for me to focus. Either way, I think the world has promise, so I’m hoping Card delves deeper in the next book.

Card has set up a great odd-couple-falls-in-love premise with Ward and Celia, with a fresh supernatural twist based around an interesting magic system (that, again, I hope will get even more development). For me, falling in love with at least one character is the key aspect I need to continue reading a series, and here I have two strong ones, so I will definitely be looking forward to the next book.

Side note: I speculate that Card picked Ward’s last name just so she could make the Dr. Death joke, which is the one time I was really thrown out of the story, because too-clever naming is just one of those authorial indulgences that always calls attention to itself. It makes it harder for me to take his name seriously, not like that's a deal-breaker or anything.
Profile Image for Saly.
3,433 reviews512 followers
July 9, 2011
Ward Against Death was pure awesome!It reminded me how much I loved the Trudi Canavan books when I was fourteen.

Ward is a necromancer, called by Lord Carlyle for the wake of his daughter Celia. He doesn't consider his magic that powerful and would rather be a physician but he was kicked out.
So, he wakes her up and is shocked to find not a noblewoman like lady but a woman who pulls a knife on him and then starts rattling tales of how she was murdered and can't trust anyone.

Ward comes across as a little weak and gullible at first but worry not, he shines brilliantly later. Celia manipulates him through the physician oath in helping her escape and getting to the bottom of her death.

You see Celia isn't a simpleton, she is cunning, and smart and a member of the Assassin Guild and on top of that her father is a Dominus(crime-lord).She is proud of who she is and her skills but there are moments when she sees the goodness in Ward when she thinks differently, but she is totally kick-ass.

I loved the whole world and Celia and Ward, both of them had layers.

Ward wasn't a simple little shy guy who turned his eyes away when seeing Celia disrobe, he was also someone who had a habit of stealing bodies and performing surgeries on them for practice. He uses his magic against all caution to help Celia but doesn't know how long it will work or how, he is.

Celia well she was a wily one, she didn't trust or understand Ward and even decides to seduce him. Ward on the other hand doesn't know what to do, after all she is dead but he continues to help her whether it comes to escaping from her father's men, the Guild or providing a distraction so that she cab steal the Keepers key.

The book was a fantastic ride, the whole plot about Ancients and the Master, everything about it was awesome, even when these two are distrusting each other.

I am so reading whatever this author brings out.

ARC Courtesy Netgalley
232 reviews10 followers
January 15, 2016
Ward Against Death was an unexpected but welcome breath of fresh air in comparison with other paranormal romances. Actually, if I have to be accurate, I would call this book a (urban?) fantasy, although the hero does have a love interest in the heroine.

Let me start by telling how much I liked Ward. He put the freshness in the aforementioned breath of air. He was so different from the usual stereotyped hero, so clumsy, awkward and adorably naive, and yet so strong and faithful. It was truly impossible not to love him, whereas it took me some time to understand and like Celia, whose strength, both physical and psychological, often hid her true nature and wishes.

The novel was fast-paced, very smooth and captivating and I was completely taken by the protagonists' adventures and the ending left me quite satisfied and needing more. I'm really looking forward to read the next books in the Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer and I'm sure I won't be disappointed.
Profile Image for Kate.
169 reviews46 followers
December 22, 2011
More reviews can be found at my blog Nomalicious Reads

I started reading Ward Against Death in utter excitement and couldn't put it down.

I knew it would be good, but it was just so much more than I thought it would be!

Melanie Card, you astound me with your writing prowess.

Astounding, surprising, stunning, awe-inspiring, sensational, remarkable, spectacular, stupendous, phenomenal, extraordinary and incredible; are a few words to sum up my thoughts on this book.

First I'll say that Ward is a great nickname for Edward, I've never heard it as a name before, I think its a great step away from the norm and defines Ward as the unique character that he is.

I agree with Celia's amusement of 'Ward, warding' I thought the same thing before it happened, and thought it amusing when she mentioned it.

The only way to describe Celia is to go with how Ward aptly describes her as: Annoying, arrogant, beautiful, deadly, dead, Celia. (I only think she is annoying with her trust issues, but its understandable, and part of why I love her) and 'He suspected Celia’s version of solving a problem was stabbing it in the heart.'

Celia is just so kick-ass and I loved how she was the dominant character to Wards submissive self, and not the other way around.

Ward is just so cute, don't get me wrong he has his sexy moments! But he has this nerdy cuteness going on for him that you just can't help but fall in love with him.

Celia and Ward's interactions... ooh boy; Ward just touching her hand was sexy! I almost melted into a puddle of goo by just reading it!

Watching them both grow throughout the book is an experience worth reading.

The one thing I would like to know more about is: the world that they are in; Melanie isn't too forthcoming on the details, and even though it didn't ruin the reading experience, I would like more info to understand the world better, and hopefully will do so in the second book. (Which I can hardly wait for!)

I'd also like to find out how old Celia and Ward actually are, I'm pretty sure it isn't mentioned - but I could have missed that? (I don't think I would classify this as YA, but who knows?!)

I wont say much else, as I don't want to ruin the experience for you, except Ward Against Death by Melanie Card is definitely a must read for paranormal lovers! 

I give Ward Against Death by Melanie Card: 5 stars.

(wow, I didn't think that it was out until tomorrow but you can buy it already on Amazon and the Bookdepo) Go put your orders in book lovers before you miss out!
Profile Image for Rê .
455 reviews56 followers
February 20, 2017

2.5 “Necromancer & Assassins” Stars

ARC via NetGalley

Thank you, Entangled Teen.

I’m gonna keep this short because I’m guessing this is a serious case of “it isn’t you, it’s me”.

I tried to like this book. I really did, but something simply didn’t work for me, and when I say something, I mean… this weird thing that probably has everything to do with subjectivity.

Look, this is a book with an assassin as the main character. A teen girl assassin. You see where I’m going there, right? This should be enough to make me super interested, and for a little while I was, but then the story simply lost me. Add the fact that the other main character is a sweet guy with the power to bring the dead back and I should’ve devoured this, right? The worse thing is I can’t name a specific thing that happened that made me lose interest. I’m guessing it was more of a case of the story never really hooking me enough from the very start.

I partially blame this on the third person narrative. Sure I read a lot of 3rd POV books, especially since I’m such a huge fan of contemporary romance, but here it simply didn’t work for me. The voices were not strong enough to hook me.

This is where the generic “I didn’t connect with the characters” enter, I have to say. There wasn’t a specific problem with the character or the plot, but I simply didn’t connect with them enough. They didn’t move me, they didn’t make me root for them or ship them. I thought Ward’s infatuation with Celia was sort of cute, but that was about it. There was no obsessing over whether they’d be together or not, which is a bad sign when it comes to a romance plot or subplot where I’m concerned. I’m not even ashamed to admit this. LOL.

If the romance didn’t hook me, then I expected the plot to do that. I wanted to be interested in Ward’s role as a necromancer, or Celia’s assassin history, or even curious about the circumstances of her death and who was responsible for that, but it never happened. The feeling never came to me.

Judging from all the great reviews on Goodreads, this shouldn’t have happened at all, but here we are…


Look, sometimes this weird thing where a book doesn’t speak to you and you can’t figure out why happens, and it did with me and Ward Against Death. I wish it had been different, though, and I hope whoever is reading this next has a much better experience than I did.
Profile Image for Amber at Fall Into Books.
524 reviews72 followers
July 31, 2013
Ward Against Death was a pleasant surprise for me. I went into this novel not expecting a lot, to be honest. The ratings on Good Reads aren't that flattering, but I decided I'd give it a try anyway. So I sampled it from Amazon and ended up downloading the entire novel. I'm glad that I did. This book is a fun and refreshing take on necromancers. The characters are unique and the plot is intriguing. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

Ward is an entertaining and endearing hero. He is a bit clumsy and not that tough, but he is highly intelligent. He has a good heart, and even though he's socially awkward, he still manages to make an impression on Celia. I really liked the fact that he's not some perfect, brooding, dark leading man. It was a nice change to have a flawed and charmingly awkward character for the hero. Celia is a bad ass, and sometimes I didn't like her. However, she is strong, and overall, I was rooting for her. The more I got to know her, the more I liked her. For both Ward and Celia (the story is told in alternating third person limited POVs), I felt like Card could have given us more to go on so that we got to know them better. I still enjoyed reading about them, though.

The world-building is a bit lacking (I never got a completely clear view of the society), but the explanations that are given are woven throughout the story instead of given to the reader in info dumps, and I liked that. The pacing is pretty spot on, and I was hooked from the beginning. When a story starts with someone raising the dead, you know things will get more interesting from there. The plot itself is intriguing, and the bad guys are really, really bad and kind of horrifying. The writing style is more YA than Adult, but since I enjoy YA, that didn't bother me. There were times that I thought I was reading a YA novel instead of a New Adult story. The romance is lacking a bit, but thankfully there is no insta-love. It seems as if Card is building Ward and Celia's relationship on friendship, and I like that. The ending ties up a lot of loose ends, but leaves enough questions unanswered for the sequel, which I'm looking forward to.

Overall, I'd recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a good New Adult Paranormal novel. The characters are endearing, the plot is unique, and the story is just a lot of fun. Give Ward Against Death a try. You won't be sorry.
Profile Image for E. Anderson.
Author 39 books254 followers
November 9, 2011
The first thing I noticed about Melanie Card‘s novel is how completely ensconced the reader is in the world. It isn’t that the author bogs down the narrative with details, or that there are hefty explanations for every little thing that is different from the way we live. It’s just there — the world that Celia and Ward live in is what it is and it’s completely believable.

WARD AGANST DEATH reads almost like a historical fantasy, although it exists in a completely different universe — comparable, perhapse, to Elizabeth C. Bunce’s STARCROSSED, in which traditions and fashion are akin to Old-Timey Europe and there is a thing or two borrowed from the steampunk cannon. But at the same time, the world of WARD is a creation all its own, with magic and intrigue and conspiracy theories aplenty.

Ward, the twenty-year-old necromancer (necromancy is a Thing in Card‘s world — as run-of-the-mill as medicine) of the story is accidentally tied to Celia, the young girl he was meant to wake for only the briefest amount of time. Except, instead of waking and saying goodbye to her family, she takes off out the window and leads him through the sewer system at which point he has to use a rare spell to keep her awake for, well, he isn’t sure how long but longer than a regular wake is meant to. And soon he discovers that she is not only tied to the mob, but also a member of a secret assassin’s league.

Celia, of course, doesn’t trust Ward. She honestly doesn’t trust anyone, given her background. She’s positive that she was murdered, and that her father, who is basically a mafia Don, had something to do with it. She’s determined to seduce Ward to get information out of him — because surely he is as tied to her murder as anyone else associated with her father — it was her father who hired him, after all — and she’s planning to kill him as soon as she gets what she wants. But what neither of them suspect is that this strange partnership will turn into a friendship, and perhaps a bit more.

With elegant prose and a clever wit, WARD AGAINST DEATH is a fun, fast-paced adventure, with just a hint of romance and plenty of suspense. I highly recommend picking up a copy. I know I’m already looking forward to the sequel!
Profile Image for Cristina Buzoianu.
Author 9 books166 followers
January 26, 2015
Originally posted on my blog, http://bibliophilemystery.blogspot.com/

The description of this book intrigued me a lot, so I was thrilled when I received it as an ARC.
This story got me hooked up from the fist page, and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before! Secret societies, assassins who throw knives through one’s neck *shiver*…
Ward is different from the male leading characters I’ve read about lately, and I had a hard time getting to like him, because he’s not an Alpha male. He’s just a young man in his twenties, trying to cope with a troubled past and his ruined career, unsure of himself and unaware of his real powers. But as I went deeper into the story, I realized that his clumsiness is what makes him so adorable. Besides, he's painfully honorable, very sensitive, and dead set on doing the right thing. I’m sure you’re going to like him too.
Celia on the other hand is the jewel of this story. She’s a kick-ass heroine, who sleeps with a dagger under her pillow, all dressed up in men clothes. She’s also an assassin, a damn good one, taking down her enemies one by one in no time. She’s decided to find out who took her life and why, no matter the cost.
She doesn’t like Ward’s presence around her at all. He’s so noisy and awkward, no way she’s falling for such a guy! He doesn’t fit at all with her assassin skills. Actually he’s the one who can’t get his eyes off her.
There’s also a villain who can steal one’s life with a kiss…
I absolutely loved this book but I don’t think young adults under 16 should read it. There’s some violence there that children should be spared of.
Happy Reading!
Profile Image for Ron.
891 reviews11 followers
December 16, 2011
I was fortunate enough to have had a glimpse of the early manuscript of this novel in 2004, and I’m happy to see that the finished product lives up to the brilliant premise I saw back then. The thing that surprised me most was how the action in the novel obeys laws of physics—something I wish more authors of adventure thrillers would do.

The dialogue and internal monologue is witty and clever. (There is a lot of mental dueling between the protagonists.) The world-building is very well handled – hints within context, no info dumps—serving to construct an intriguing and original time and place.

Although constructed in the romance tradition (back and forth POV between hero and heroine) the novel has a solid mystery at its core which should attract an audience beyond the romance genre.
This promising debut should appeal to fans of historical mystery and urban fantasy as well as paranormal romance.
Profile Image for Stacey Kennedy.
Author 102 books2,252 followers
April 6, 2012
Ooo I adored this book! The world was so lush and vivid. The plot was woven beautifully and I was sucked right into the story. While that was all a bonus, the characters are what had me captivated. It was so refreshing to read a hero who isn’t an Alpha.

Ward is such a softy, a bit awkward, and seriously the cutest guy ever! More than once I wanted to reach into the book and hug him!! I loved how Celia was this strong gal and I kept cheering her on throughout the story.

There is one scene that was by far my favorite—I won’t spoil anything—but Celia shows off her fighting skills and although the scene was serious, I found myself giggling at Ward’s reaction. The two of them just meshed, were written so uniquely, and I was totally engrossed!

If you enjoy historical fantasy, you’ll LOVE this one!! I know I did...and I didn’t even realize I liked to read historical fantasy! So...*bounces up and down*...when’s the next one coming out?! ;-)
Profile Image for Joan.
2,193 reviews
April 18, 2017
Loved this. I have to admit to skimming some parts simply because I was actually more interested in the development of the relationship between Ward and Celia, but this was a cracking good story about magic and death and suspense.

There was some stunningly good writing and I loved the way Celia took over the story at first and then gradually, Ward stepped up to become her equal as Celia's opinion of him changed.

Its a complicated, twisty story of necromancy and magic, and some aspects were a little too complicated, but the relationship between the two, and Ward's growing 'strength' made up for any minor niggles I might have had.
Profile Image for Samuel Capri.
99 reviews16 followers
March 6, 2017
Wow, what a tale this was!!! the writer made this magical world come alive for me and the action was fun and fast paced. I cannot wait to read the next book and see what other adventures await Ward and Celia. very fun read with lots of suspense and action.
Profile Image for Small Review.
610 reviews207 followers
March 10, 2019
3.5/5 stars

Best couple ever!

Ok, here's the thing you need to know about Celia: She's an assassin. I was a little afraid that based on that blurb, she'd be a whining damsel. But she TOTALLY isn't. Not even close. I also wasn't expecting her narration, but when chapter two rolled around and her voice was the one telling the story, I practically crowed with joy. I loved seeing the story through her perspective. This really helped give depth to her character and she scores highly on the WWMCD test.

Though her constantly changing feelings about Ward got a little wearing after a while (make up your mind already, Celia!), I liked that there wasn't a hint of insta-love at all and instead their relationship was of the hate-love-hate-love-hate-love variety. Maybe there was a little too much back and forth, but I'll take that any day over the dreaded insta-love.

Ward is a different story. He is the second narrator and while I was expecting this to be more his story, he is often overshadowed by Celia's larger than life personality. I felt like I only truly got to know Ward when he was alone. Also, where Celia scores highly on the WWMCD test, Ward ranks a bit lower. He still rates well, but sometimes it seemed like Melanie Card was trying to make him too many things at once. He felt a little less consistent than Celia--but only a little. I did very much like what I saw though. Ward is a quiet scholar, but he's also not afraid to take risks in the pursuit of greater knowledge and doing what is right.

So why the "Best couple ever!" title? Because the strength of these two is when they're together. Though Celia does have a tendency to overshadow Ward, they both bring out qualities in the other that are better than when they're alone. In a lot of ways they remind me of Will and Alona from The Ghost and the Goth series by Stacey Kade. They're opposites, they bicker, and they're not afraid to call one another out. But they also care and it's so sweet. I get the feeling their relationship will be even more fun to read about in the sequel and I can't wait to find out.

What a wonderful world

Oh world building! One of my favorite things about the fantasy genre is the opportunities for world building, and Melanie Card does a fantastic job at creating a world that is both inventive and plausible. She weaves in so much--politics, magic, religion, history, professions, guilds--and then she ties it all together to create a world with incredible depth and possibilities. I really liked learning about the world and this held my attention just as much as the mystery and characters.

Except she doesn't nail it. She almost nails it. I get the sense that this world is fantastically formed in her head, but she's only transcribed 80% of it here. Now sure, I know some of it we'll learn about as the series unfolds and that is natural and fine, but it sometimes felt like I was on a movie set where everything seems very real until you realize that everything is just a thin plywood facade. If there was just a little more explanation about the world--just a tiny bit more time spent on "stage setting" and fully fleshing everything out--then it would have been amazing.

Well, who killed her?

This question is the driving force of the book and kept me turning the pages. Each chapter sees Ward and Celia come a little closer to the answer. Though this isn't quest fantasy, things almost read like a quest story with Celia and Ward sent in first one direction, and then another and another, in search of the truth. I was never white-knuckling it, but the pacing was brisk and steady and never suffered any lulls.

But this brings me to another "almost." The plot was almost perfect...until the info-dump at the end followed by the easy-peasy resolution. Things were cooking up to Something Big...and then wrapped up like a 30-minute sitcom. It was still fun, but I was a little disappointed with how easily everything was resolved.

Bottom line

Though plagued by "almosts" (Ward, the world building, the resolution), even "almost" was good enough to keep me entertained and make me anxious to read the sequel. There's so much potential, and I have faith that Melanie Card will take those "almosts" and do her ideas justice in the future. I think it's all in her head and it must be brilliant. I just hope she lets us in on all the details in the next book.

With the way Ward Against Death ends I imagine it will have a sequel, though I don't yet know when it will be published. The ending is open enough to lead smoothly into the next book with the next "mission" set up, but the main story is wrapped up nicely. No killer cliffhangers!

One final caution: this is much more of an adult/YA crossover than straight up YA. The characters mention sex in a much more mature manner and the overall vibe is more like an adult book.

Originally posted at Small Review
Profile Image for Wren .
382 reviews92 followers
January 2, 2017
This review can also be found at http://fortheloveofbooksreviews.blogs...

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

Ward is a necromancer and a physician. He also takes part in illegal surgeries, which has left him on the wanted list in many regions. When he is hired to bring a woman back to life for her family's final goodbyes, Celia insists that she has been murdered, and she and a reluctant Ward run away to the sewers.

This is only the start of their ordeal. Now, they must avoid Celia's father's men, the local authorities, the places where Ward is wanted, and hope that Celia doesn't drop dead again in the streets. While trying to solve the mystery surrounding Celia's murder, neither she nor Ward are sure who they can trust, and they have to be wary of everyone, even each other.

Necromancy is such an interesting topic. I've always been drawn to stories about necromancy, raising the dead, and magic, but it seems that there are few books that actually specifically feature a necromancer as a main character. One could then imagine my delight as I stumbled across this title featured on NetGalley, and my excitement when my request was approved by the publisher.

This book had me hooked from the beginning. The action starts almost right away, as soon as Celia wakes up. Throughout the rest of the book, the action never ceased, the characters always had to face an enemy or a threat, and once I got into the story, it took a lot of effort to stop reading. Furthermore, the world that this is set within is captivating. I thought I'd get a fantasy set in the modern, contemporary world. Instead, it was set in a sort of alternative, fantasy world, where things like surgery are illegal and necromancers are a normal part of life. This made for a great world to escape to and lose myself in. The world-building was phenomenal, from the government itself all the way to the world of criminals.

Ward is such a great character to read about. He's quite funny, often clumsy or partially clueless, and he has his own unique charm. While I don't mind a flawless hero every now and then, to have an imperfect hero like Ward, quirks and all, was very refreshing. I immediately liked Ward and hoped that all would end well for him, which just fueled my need to read and kept me reading until my eyes were tired.

The other main character is Celia. Technically dead, she is a master manipulator, an assassin, and overall somebody you do not want to mess with. While she may be dead, she doesn't lose herself or sight of her goal: to find out who killed her. She was a complete daredevil, in my opinion. At times, she appeared reckless, but that only added to her character. She and Ward were fairly opposite each other, with Ward more timid and unsure, and Celia courageous and determined. This made for some amusing dialogue and situations, which added much-appreciated humor to this story of death and magic.

The main issue that I had with this story was the attraction or romance between Celia and Ward. While there isn't a full-blown romance within this book, there are many references to the characters feeling attraction to each other, at the very least. These things certainly can be weaved well into an action-packed fantasy such as this one, but the author didn't balance their attraction to each other with the main issue within the story. I would think, for example, that Ward would not be considering Celia in a romantic or sensual way, as he often did, while they were in such a dire situation. It seemed out of place and somewhat forced. I think that it would have been better if the author had toned down the romantic aspects within this book and saved it for the next in the series.

All in all, this tale of a charming, somewhat awkward necromancer and the lady that he has brought back from the dead is one that I enjoyed reading. While the romantic bits seemed a bit out of place for the situation at hand, the world-building was amazing and the action kept me turning pages for hours on end.

I recommend this novel to fans of stories filled with magic and action. If you're interested in a new adult / mature young adult book about necromancy, or a change from the usual vampires and werewolves of the paranormal and fantasy genres, this book is for you.
Profile Image for Raven_Blake (dreamy addictions).
760 reviews226 followers
February 9, 2017
Same Review Also Posted In My Blog: Dreamy Addictions

*ARC received from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

I actually requested this on a whim while I was feeling bored and when I finally got into it surprisingly I found myself enjoying this. I loved the concept of the book especially the necromancers and assassins aspect which is actually the first thing that grabbed my attention. The main characters Celia and Ward are pretty much enjoyable. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book about Necromancy and I’m glad that I gave this a try. It’s a refreshing take on necromancers and honestly, for a debut I think it’s quite impressive and I really want to know how the story goes further.

The story follows Twenty-year-old fledgling necromancer Ward de’Ath who dreams to become a surgeon which is kinda illegal and forbidden in his world. When he is expected to raise a noble woman named celia from the dead for fifteen minutes so that she could say her final goodbye’s to her family and friends, things get out of control when she doesn’t follows his orders and instead begs for him to make her stay alive until she finds her murderers and have her justice. Moved by Celia’s beautiful face and innocence, Ward agrees to help her and together they escape from there. While on the run from Celia’s enemies, Ward observes that Celia’s isn’t as innocent and weak as she seems to be and finally realizes that he’s been played by her innocent act. She drags him around nasty sewers and every dark corner in the town that almost makes him want to leave her on her own but he doesn’t have a heart to desert her. Bound by his own stupid Physician’s oath, Ward doesn’t have any choice but to help her. As their search for the Celia’s murderer gets more dangerous, Ward gets more attracted to Celia and he knows what he feels for her is very much wrong because it’s totally against the rules.

I liked Celia! She is definitely a strong female protagonist because she’s a freaking assassin who kicks butts and will not hesitate to kill. She’s a fearless person who possesses hard edged personality and doesn’t trust anyone easily. Ward is pretty adorable character and I absolutely loved him. He is pretty much different from your usual stereotype hero’s and is quite opposite to Celia’s personality. He’s naive, awkward, innocent, sweet, clumsy, and loyal. Though he’s not as much as strong as Celia, he’s got his own strength that makes him unique in his own way. The relationship between Celia and Ward is pretty much enjoyable. Though they don’t trust each other, they do make a perfect strong team. The romance between them is definitely slow burning. Despite hating Celia, Ward couldn’t help but get infatuated by her and tries hard to resist his attraction knowing it wouldn’t work out between them. They both deny their attraction towards each other until the end of the book so, I’ll definitely look forward to know how their relationship develops further.

The plot is very intriguing and mysterious. I was engaged to the story from the start and it was totally unputdownable. I loved the non-stop action and also the mystery surrounding the Celia’s murder. The pacing was good and the writing was captivating through out. I’m so glad to find that this book was told in dual POV’s because I actually thought it was told in only Ward’s POV and I enjoyed seeing the story from both perspectives. The world the author created is absolutely fantastic. I liked every aspect of this world especially the political intrigue, magic, necromancers, assassins and guilds. I can’t wait to explore more of this world.

Overall, I loved it! Though it wasn’t a total perfection, it was definitely an addictive read that many readers would love to devour. There isn’t any shocking cliffhangers at the end but it didn’t lessened my enthusiasm to read the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Angie.
2,334 reviews227 followers
January 6, 2015
From the very beginning, I knew Ward Against Death was going to be a winner. It reminded me too much of my all-time favorite TV show, Pushing Daisies, for me to not enjoy it. Just like the show, Ward has the ability to bring back the dead for a limited amount of time. His latest job is to wake a nobleman's daughter after her suspicious death. It doesn't go according to plan at all, since Celia claims to have been murdered, then jumps out of the window. Ward is responsible for her, so of course he follows, and she takes advantage of his commitment to the Oath--that he cannot deny any patient help. Celia is determined to find out who killed her and why, and she needs Ward's help, since she's kind of dead and all. What follows is an action packed adventure as Celia (a trained assassin) and Ward (definitely not an assassin) run all over the city to solve this case.

Ward Against Death was so much fun! I could not get enough! It's fast paced and has plenty of action sequences to hold your attention. While Celia and Ward get into a lot of scuffles during the book, it never felt repetitive or circular. They were always on the go, running into new foes, and discovering new information. It's not all fight scenes and blood though. There's a ton of awesome occult factors as well. Ward is a physician and a necromancer, which is not exactly smiled upon in their society, so when Celia's murder takes a paranormal twist, he finally has more to offer her (other than keeping her alive, of course). Ward is the brains, and Celia is the brawn. It's a dynamic that I could definitely get behind!

I absolutely adored both of our main characters. Ward Against Death is told in dual POV (with an occasional third from the villain), so we really get to know both of them. Celia is kick ass and smart. She has to be since she's from a long line of assassins. She may not have all of the answers, but she's good at acting like she has them until she can actually get them. Ward is her complete opposite. He has no fighting skills whatsoever, but he can use his hands for other purposes. Like surgery and mending wounds. He is very sweet and caring, and at times a bit bumbling. I found him so cute! Of course, there was a budding romance. It does start out with Celia trying to manipulate Ward's feelings to keep him close, but eventually she realizes that she does want him. However, they're relationship proposes a very important question: is it still necrophilia if one partner is the living dead?

Ward Against Death has almost everything I love in a book: an interesting fantasy world, likeable characters, romance, action, and the paranormal! There's never a dull moment as Celia and Ward work together to find her murderer and learn more about the Ancient people who used to dominate their city. It has the perfect balance of mystery, romance, and action. And zombies! I am very happy that I've finally started this series and I'm eager to dive into the next book to see what's in store for our reluctant necromancer and his kind of zombie.

Read more of my reviews at Pinkindle Reads & Reviews.
Profile Image for Rachel.
495 reviews51 followers
August 3, 2011
Check out more of my reviews (and other fun things!!!) on my blog: Paper Cuts

I have quite a few friends who have read this book before me, and all have raved about it. I admitted it looked intriguing, but couldn't understand how they could love it as much as they did. Only once I started it did I understand. The idea of necromancers has intrigued me since I read Garth Nix's Sabriel years ago, but I don't seem to come across a lot of books focusing on necromancy. I didn't realize that that bothered me until I read this book. Yes, it is an evil sounding thing, but so fascinating! I like that it is Ward's innate talent, yet not really. He has the propensity for it, but can't seem to really get it down. And when he seems to start to get it, he doubts himself and fails. I hope he realizes just what he can do in later books!

Ward and Celia's voices are interesting, and a good match. Ward is timid and intellectual while Celia is physical and dominating. Ward doubts himself and all that he does, never sure if it's what he should be doing. Celia jumps into situations head first and just goes. I love each character's growth as they spend more time with the other. Ward becomes more proactive and seeks to fix things he would've just let pass at the beginning and Celia begins to let people in, especially Ward, despite her best efforts. They rub off on one another and really become more complete with the other around. (Awwwwww!!!) Besides, they have super good chemistry that is just aching to explode!

My big complaint for this book was a lack of explanation of the setting. Some books work quite well with their information gradually being given to the reader, but this really didn't even happen. Ward names all of these places, countries I presume, that he's wanted in, but I don't know what kind of world this is supposed to be. There's no real history given, other than lots of mentions of "the Ancients", and no way to know topography, excluding some vague mention that it didn't snow often wherever they were.

The only other thing I didn't like in the book had to do with narration. While I loved the points of views of Ward and Celia, I didn't quite get the inclusion of narration from Karysa. This is because we get her point of view a total of two times. I felt like it might have been thrown in to explain something else that may have been cut out in editing. When I first read a bit from her point of view, I thought it was interesting to add the view of an antagonist to the story; it also fixed a lot of confusion I had, but I expected her to be followed more than two times. I just think to either leave it out or commit. And, actually, it wasn't the big deal I seem to be making it out to be. :) :) I'm simply nitpicking because there's not much at all to criticize with this book.

Ward Against Death has a great formula working for it. Interesting idea, steady plot, loveable protagonist, and good execution. It all leads to a very fun and memorable read!
Profile Image for Jen Davis.
Author 7 books700 followers
September 12, 2013
I had no idea from the blurb that this book was supposed to be YA. And even after reading it, I'm not sure if I would have characterized it that way. Both of the characters are about 20 years old, with careers, so to speak. Then again, there is no sex and our male main character isn't quite the standard hero.

Ward is a necromancer, though his real dream was always to be a physician and surgeon. Unfortunately, in this past/alternative world, magics are a way of life and surgery is forbidden. Ward has already been caught trying to learn the craft and now his innate necromantic gifts will have to get him through life. As the story begins, Ward is called to perform a wake on beautiful young woman named Celia. He plans to bring her across the veil for just a few minutes at her father's request. But when she wakes up, she begs him to help her discover who killed her.

No one is above suspicion, not even Celia's family, so together they go on the run. Ward has no idea that Celia was actually an assassin and her father is the head of the underworld. And Celia is sure that Ward is something other than the sweet, bumbling, and principled young man he seems to be. But despite their differences --and despite the fact that Celia is dead-- there is an attraction between the two of them.

Over the course of the book, Ward and Celia work to find clues to her death. But instead of things getting clearer, they get more and more convoluted. There's a great big plot afoot, somehow tied in with another assassination, ancient prophesies, and magic. I'll admit that I got confused a few times, especially early on... most often in the details between the assassin's guild and the bad-guy underworld led by Celia's dad. But it was a very engaging read. I think the best thing about the entire book was Ward. He is such a good guy. He is honorable and loyal, while still being fallible and scared. He is so easy to root for, I found myself much more invested in him than in Celia.

I won't spoil the details of how the murder plot unraveled, but there was a lot of action and danger that kept me wrapped up in the story. The book was light in the romance department, but the undercurrents are there throughout. It's clear that more adventures are ahead for Ward and Celia... just as it's apparent there is much more to his magic than even he realizes.

Unique world-building and engaging characters. Worth checking out. 4 stars.

*ARC provided by Entangled Publishing
Profile Image for WildAboutBones.
328 reviews28 followers
July 29, 2011
Necromancers, assassins, murders, re-animations, black magic, tackers, inquisitors, a sinister plot to create a shadow walker, humor and a romance are the stars in this paranormal romance. Such a fun story, one in which the girl is the hero and the guy gets pulled along for the ride unable to really help or defend. This story is full of non-stop action with a slow romance building almost from the second chapter. The humor is delightful. There is even a little fantasy in that the setting is in a make believe world.

While the publisher also categorizes this as a New Adult title, the only things that could possibly put it there are the main characters being in their twenties and, with the exception of some kissing and touching, there is no sex - but only because the Ward de'Ath -- what a great name for a necromancer -- is afraid of it being necrophilia since Celia is technically dead.

Ward, necromancer and physician, can wake people from death but he is not in tune with his gift. He wants to be a surgeon but surgery is illegal. He has also just been expelled from the physicians' academy. He thinks Celia is so beautiful with a very shapely behind. He thinks he is so dumb when it comes to women. He knows Celia is using him. Still, he is so attracted to her and has to keep reminding himself that she is the reanimated dead but she doesn't look or act like the others he's awakened. She acts so alive. He is so afraid that with her it would be necrophilia and there are laws against that as well as eewww!

Celia, Guild assassin, brought back from death by Ward, tells him she was murdered and must find out who killed her. He tells her there is a special spell that will keep her awake for longer than the normal 15 minutes. She is having a hard time remembering to keep Ward at a distance, to not fall for his cuteness. She plans to seduce him to find out if he's working for her enemies or not. But he doesn't react the way other men do around her - it isn't working. Seducing him is going to take some hard work. Good thing he's handsome, even if he has "all the grace of a beached porpoise".

I really enjoyed reading this story. I think paranormal romance and urban fantasy fans will enjoy it as well.

Warning Spoiler Alert!!!
This does have a HEA ending ... sorta ... they go "off into the sunset" together.
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews710 followers
September 20, 2011
This book has a lot going for it: a kick ass heroine, a goofy guy who is in over his head, a cool plot of necromancer meets assassin and action, lots and lots of action! (And then throw in a romance that could have gotten old quickly had there been no role reversal to keep things new.)

The characters are most definitely the most interesting aspect. I enjoyed both of them where he’s “forgetful professor” in the making, she’s all femme fatale. And oh geez, they were fun to meet! The sad/funny part is all Ward; he is so unaware of what’s going on and so unsure about his role in it but he puts his game face time and again and tries to help out. And the kick ass bit? That is all on account of Celia… whom I loved!

As to the story, well that I finished it in a blink must say something. It is quirk filled, funny and fast paced, and refreshing! Their world is wonderfully different. Take assassins on one hand then necromancers on the other then there’s bound to (and was) magic, guilds and flying arrows! Fun! I really enjoyed them reveal each aspect of their world; instead of describing things everything was revealed in a way that went smoothly.

The basic problem is that she’s dead and needs him around because he is a necromancer… things don’t stay that way though given his attraction to her, his reluctant attraction to her. She’s dead, he has brought her back to life, yet he is strangely attracted to her… if that isn’t interesting, Well, I don’t know what is! The best aspect of this romance is that it’s the boy who’s sunk because the girl is too kick ass and involved in her own issues to give the same thing (much) thought. And even better is how they improved each other, where he gets a better grip of his abilities because of her, she evolves into someone less bad ass because of him. I truly enjoyed how their relationship developed of course the chemistry between the two added a bit more of something for me to like.

So, a kick ass heroine, a goofy guy who is in over his head, then a cool plot of necromancer meets assassin and action, and then some romance...well, read this!

Profile Image for Kereesa.
1,623 reviews76 followers
July 31, 2017
**A thank you to Kate from Nomalicious Reads for allowing me to pick a book in her giveaway, and for writing a review that convinced me to pick Ward Against Death :D**

Ward Against Death was a fun, dark, paranormal story. Set in a world half victorian England, and surrounded by gilds filled with supernaturals, necromancers, and assassins, the novel is about Ward, a necromancer, who's been called to perform a 'wake' (waking up the deceased for 15 minutes for a final conversation with loved ones) on a young, wealthy girl named Celia. It was supposed to be a normal wake, until Celia tells Ward she's been murdered, and pulls him into a whirlwind adventure filled with conspiracy, necromancy, and assassinations.

Ward Against Death was a fun novel. It was exciting, funny, and filled with the things I love most about fantasy: adventure, danger, and magic. It also had a world that easily had me intrigued, and wondering about its intricacies that the author hints at, but never fully goes into a kind of info-dumping about the whole thing. And while I'm not always a fan of the whole barely-explained kind of worlds, I have to admit Ward Against Death still had enough of a world that I could feel as solid and real.

The plot, the conspiracy behind it all, was something I was equally intrigued about, though I do have to admit I saw a few things coming. Nevertheless, it was exciting and really went well with the whole assassins/underworld vibe I got from the novel. I really can't wait, either, to see where the few loose ends will be tied up in the novel's sequels.

I really loved both Ward and Celia as characters, and thought their romance, though based on attraction, really did develop quite well. While Ward was kind of wimpy, I really liked him for some reason, and Celia was easily a favorite with her bad ass and assassin skills. Their romance was nice, although expected, and I enjoyed how their friendship and romance developed enough to be notable, yet still had room to grow within the next few books.

All in all, I really enjoyed Ward Against Death. It was funny, cute, and just what I needed in a paranormal novel. 4/5
Profile Image for Lola.
1,520 reviews243 followers
April 24, 2013
I got a copy for review in exchange for an honest review.

I really liked the idea behind this book and i think the idea behind the story is really original. I really enjoyed the first part of the story, but somewhere along the way my interest in the story lessened.

The book is about a necromancer (something I don't read about that often)who revives someone from the death and decides her help find her murderer. I really was pulled into the story and wanted to know what was going to happen. After a while it just seemed like the character were running in circles and nothing really happened for a while, the characters made some stupid chooses and then the ending was action packed again. I just expected something more, the mystery about her death was easy to solve, but the characters just didn't seem able to figure it out.

The characters were likeable, I especially liked Ward and his naivity and clumsiness. He was a really enjoyable character and I liked him with all his flaws, it made him seem like a real character. I also liked Celia, although she was a bit too much of the stereotype assassin. And some times she really acted like an awesome assassin, but at other times she acted really dumb. Also I think that the characters made some stupid mistakes and I hated the fact that if they only just talked about things, they would've actually solved anything. Also sometimes it was just too much thinking about things and i got confused because of it.

There was enough basis for the world building, but sadly enough the author didn't really focus on it. It was obvious from many prhases that the author did think about the world building, but too little was actually explained and I felt like I missed an important part of the story.

At the end of the book there are still many things that aren't resolved and the ending felt a bit abrupt. You are left quessing what will happen next.

To conclude: the book started out really good and I liked the characters, but eventualy I lost my interest and got annoyed at the stupid descisions the characters made. There was hinted at world building, but there wasn't enough explanation to really get what was going on.
Profile Image for J.C. Hart.
Author 21 books51 followers
July 7, 2011
I heard about Entangled Publishing through a friend awhile back, and have been waiting eagerly for their book store to go live so that I could check out the type/quality of books they put out, so when I saw a tweet from them that they had just put this title up on NetGalley I logged straight in and requested it! Just as well, too, as I've since tried to get other books but they have been overloaded with requests!

I think the cover of this one is gorgeous, and I love that the series is called 'Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer', referring to the main lead, Ward. I found this quite refreshing, in that he could have been big and brash, like many male leads; however, he is anything but. I loved that he was a little less confident, less sure of himself, and not your typical broad shouldered, smouldering love interest. He has his own charms, and quirks, and I adored following him through the novel as he tried desperately to keep up with the deadly (and dead) Celia.

Celia, on the other hand, has a love of danger and seems to like to live life on the edge, even if she's not quite alive. It's amazing that she has made it this long without dying, but that just adds to her charm. While Celia puts on a brave face for most of the novel, underneath her bravado she is uncertain about what exactly is going on - who killed her, and why? This is the central question to the story, and I loved how all the threads came together.

The writing is really engaging; I got caught up in the story so quickly, and couldn't wait to see how it all panned out. While this novel wraps the story line up nicely, there are enough questions (such as: what exactly is Celia?) and the now un-deniable attraction/emotion between Ward and Celia that will bring readers back for another round. It's an unlikely combination for romance, but it works really well - you will have to read the book to see how it all pans out! I will be eagerly awaiting the second installment.

A solid four stars from me.
Profile Image for Raven.
25 reviews7 followers
July 2, 2011
Review posted at Lari's Writing

Here's a young necromancer who can't catch a break. Coming from a long line of necromancers, Ward de'Ath is still young and trying to make a name for himself.

The story begins with Ward performing a "wake." This means Ward has been hired by nobility to bring a young woman back from the dead for fifteen minutes to say a final "goodbye" before burial. What Ward doesn't expect is the dead Celia Carlyle to awaken and enlist Ward on a quest to find out who murdered her.

The plot picks up early on. Ward risks everything, his life and career, to aid Ms. Carlyle and solve the mystery of her death. Ward quickly realizes he can't trust Celia, and it becomes obvious that Celia views him as a means to an end. The reader immediately gets some action, as Celia and Ward have to flee from the recently (but no longer) deceased's father, and a guild of assassins. The author fluidly changes perspectives from Ward to Celia with third person, limited narrator.

In a literary world where vampires and werewolves abound, it is nice to see something as fresh and unique as Card's hesitant necromancer, Ward, and his fantastic world. The story's society, history, geography, culture, and religion are quite a remarkable achievement for the literary senses (especially the setting with the active volcano, one word: awesome). Although, there were times while reading where I wish there were more descriptions as every now and then I did get a little lost.

The author's goals are to keep the reader guessing, and interested in the sexual tension in between Ward and Celia (which, by the way, gets to be quite funny as Ward contemplates the necrophilia-tic nature of his attraction for her). Card does a fabulous job at doing both.

What a great debut for Ms. Card. I look forward to reading the second book in this series which is scheduled for release in December.

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