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Shadows of Asphodel

(Shadows of Asphodel #1)

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  580 ratings  ·  163 reviews
1913. Austria-Hungary.

Wendel may be devilishly handsome, a charming bastard with the manners of disinherited royalty, but he's an abomination. His skin shivers with the icy fire of necromancy. With one touch, he can raise the dead. Worse still, he's being hunted by assassins from Constantinople, and he would rather die than confess why.

Ardis escaped her own dark past,
Paperback, 350 pages
Published September 13th 2013 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

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, Kincyss worldbuilding puts more seasoned authors to shame. Dieselpunk is still fairly unexplored, but I felt she included just
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a book that when I finished reading I lay in bed and stared at the ceiling just thinking about it. For hours. I couldn't pick anything else up; I just wanted to read it again!

I'd been excited about reading this book for what has felt like a very long time. I love Steampunk so when I heard this was Dieselpunk I was curious what the difference would be. I have to say that for me, not someone fully versed in the difference, I couldn't really tell a difference. All I know is that it was
Eva Müller
This review can also be found on my blog

"Why did someone as bad as a necromancer have to look so good?"

(I should have known what was coming after that quote)

A book set in an alternate Austria-Hungary 1912. That sounded like it was right up my alley. Unfortunately, it ended up severely disappointing. That started with the fact that for all the influence the setting had on the plot it could just as easily have been set in the Year of the Unicorn in a fantasy land with too many vowels in its name.
Mar 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, romance
The romance novel-ish portion of the cover made me hesitate, but seeing it shelved as "steampunk" by fellow readers convinced me to pick it up regardless - it's hard to resist a potentially interesting steampunk story. Turns out this is actually dieselpunk - machines run on diesel and not steam, and just in case you might overlook this fact, there's actually a scientist in the story named Diesel. Heh. So it appears this would be my first dieselpunk novel instead... and it's not a bad start.

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 ...more
I...fell in love with this book. Or maybe it is just Wendel. Yeah, maybe I fell in love with Wendel. Wendel & Ardis. Nope, I fell in love with Wendel AND this book. A little steampunk, a little magic, a little romance, incredible passion, thirst for revenge, when I finished, I sighed happily.

"Necromancy is fascinating," he murmured. "There's a certain repulsive elegance about the magic. With it, I can recover memories long lost. I can speak to the dead who left this world days, weeks, even
✿ℎazℯℓ - thℯ ℛock Cℎick ℱairy✿

Unexpectedly romantic!

When I requested for this book, I thought I would just love it because of the action it promises. However, now I love it because of the characters' interaction!

They're just... MFEO! MADE FOR EACH OTHER. ^_^ Now you might think that I'm just romanticizing their story, but no. They're truly a romantic pair!!

ARDIS, my darling mercenary, is a kickass girl who's known for her ruthlessness in battle. She ran from her past and is currently living with lots of blood in her
Tanja (Tanychy) St. Delphi/James
Review also posted at Ja čitam, a ti?

The time setting of this book is a very familiar to all of us. We all remember history classes and the whole First World War period. We know that Germany was preparing for the big war and that a lot of army and arms were included. But this book will show you that not only human inventions were part of this era, but some paranormal forces as well.

Ardis, our main character here is a mercenary and her task for Austira-Hungary is to kill people with her skills.
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Dark, intense, and amazing, Shadows of Asphodel was just brilliant. I absolutely loved this New Adult dieselpunk read. It was darkly romantic, endlessly thrilling, and deeply emotional. I really enjoyed this fabulous book.

Ardis was a very strong heroine. She didn't let herself be taken advantage of and took on every bad situation that was thrown at her. She was the very definition of bad ass. I really liked her. I thought she was awesome.

Wendel was also great. He had a lot of secrets, so many so
Jul 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
***I received this book from the publisher curiosity quills as part of the book tour for book 2 storms of Lazarus in exchange for an honest review***

This is my first time reading a steampunk novel and well I didn't hate this book I didn't love it either, I'm definitely somewhere in the middle with it. I at times liked the characters on a few occasions I wasn't so keen on them, I didn't really connect strongly with either of the main characters. The archmage for me was what probably saved it, I
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This book is the MOST AWESOME book I have ever written. For real. If you don't believe me, read an excerpt and see what you think. Better yet, read the whole book.
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
OK, so i have to write my thoughts on this. Inspiration struck me suddenly. Mind you, not that i needed to have inspiration to write a review for this book, but if i did write my thoughts on it without inspiration all that i would write would be along the lines of, but not limited to 'OMG OMG OMG MORE' or 'GEEZUS pls end up together for eternity for the sake of my complex fantasies' or perhaps 'If i read one more word about steampunk and Wendel in the same context, i know what's gonna happen'. ...more
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
First of all, Karen Kincy is definitely favored by cover gods! Even the first cover for this book was wonderful. The second one is just more to the point.

Secondly, I don't know why it took me so long to read it. First chapter was a bit of a struggle, but then I got right into it.

Easy, adventurous, clever dieselpunk fantasy which by its tandem of a necromancer and a mercenary strongly reminded me of Melanie Card's fantasy series.

Ardis is an American half-Chinese who escaped her own country
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Set in an alternate universe where a hex has rendered modern weaponry useless in continental Europe, Ardis rescues a devilishly handsome and extremely snarky necromancer. By this stage you probably get a pretty good idea whether or not you'll enjoy it or not, so I won't say anything more.

However, this book has got the lot. Swordfights! Necromancers! Romance! Mech suits! The only thing it doesn't have is necromancers controlling undead swarms of bees to attack people (but hey, we can't have it
Aug 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy crap, that was a thrilling read.and you know,I think I remember Other being like this.I mean this story was so different but just as all consuming.Stayed up till almost 3 am but I don't care. Thank you so much Mrs. Kincy for giving me the opportunity to live breath and die and come back again.AMAZING!!
N.N. Light
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews-by-mrs-n
I really loved this book! The characters are like jellyfish, in that they electrocute you and become a part of you. I can't seem to decide what genre it is. It has a little something for everyone. I highly recommend it and can't wait to read book 2!

My Rating: 5+ stars
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
*** Actual rating: 4.5/5
** See more at:
* Recensione in italiano più sotto


We are in 1913, Ardis, a mercenary armed with an ancient sword, is in a snowy battlefield in Transylvania. She works to keep the peace, even if it involves the killing of a number of rebels who oppose the Empire of Austria-Hungary. There, among the prayers and cries of the wounded, his attention is drawn to an unarmed man, well dressed and very charming. She would like to kill
c, (½ of readsrainbow)
dnf @ 10%

idk i was just not comfortable with pretty much every description of the mc (by herself) being like her "American accent and Chinese eyes",, probably bc nothing about the mc sounds realistically not-white like even the model on the front cover is white

so yeah. i dont have time for this and im kinda bored besides

Rep: Chinese-American mc, bi li
Lori Palle
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Why is itthat Im always finding you in the snow, alone, bleeding?Ardis

Ardis and Wendel are two damaged souls with low expectations when it comes to their life expectancy. Ardis is a mercenary who can never return home, and Wendel is an assassin and rare necromancer who lives for revenge. With a chance meeting on a snow-covered battlefield, two people with nothing to lose have everything to gain with each otherif their enemies dont kill them first

I always kill first, ask questions later.Wendel

Shadows of Asphodel attracted my attention immediately with a pretty cover. When I noticed it was a historical fantasy set in Europe, I knew had to read it.


* Alternate history twists. Historical fantasy is one of my favorite genres, because it toys with historical facts and bends them. For example: as there were no guns (in the book), the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, that started the First World War, was conducted with a knife and, as one would
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shadows of Asphodel is an adult diselpunk. This is the first diselpunk that I have encountered, and honestly I wasnt really sure what the difference would be from steampunk. I think the main difference that I found was with the weaponry in the story. The story is set in a very turbulent time in history, and I really enjoyed the way Karen Kincy incorporated the historical events as they were occurring throughout the story. She used the real people and the real events and interspersed them ...more
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adored Ardis and Wendel and their story - at heart a romance, but with lots of bloody action thrown in to spice things up. This story has been labeled by some as dieselpunk and I believe that description fits very well. Im not really up on European history during that period, but it seems that many of the happenings and historical figures of the time before World War I have been utilized, along with some magic and fantastical inventions thrown in, to make a wonderfully interesting mix. Ardis ...more
Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is my first experiences with dieselpunk. I love steampunk so I just knew this was something that I really needed to try. Throw in the fact that it came highly recommended by trusted blogging friends and you have yourself a sure thing.

And I really did love the imaginative world that the author created, not to mention the action packed non stop fun that was Shadows of Asphodel. Oh, and did I mention the steamy romance?

Ardis and Wendel were kick butt characters in their own right and couldn't
I didn't know what to expect when I bought this book but I was really impressed - If you are a fan of Marjorie M Liu's books you might enjoy this book, think Asian kick ass chick with a sword who can't resist bad boys. This has the potential for more books so we will wait and see!
This book was so good!!! If I could give this book 10 stars I would. The story kept you on the edge of your seat the whole time and I loved the h. Plus I'm a little in love with Wendel.
Chelsea Campbell
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
A gripping alternate history of World War I, filled with magic and swordfighting, steamy romance, and general badasserya daring adventure you don't want to miss! ...more
Jinan H
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
for more reviews please visit

**I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much! This doesnt affect the review in any way. My opinions, as always, are my own.**

Rating: 3.5 stars


The battle was over and Ardis was walking through the battlefield when she comes across a gravely injured man. Given his lack of uniform, i.e not a soldier or one of the rebels they were fighting, Ardis concluded that he is
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Its 1913, and Ardis is a young female mercenary working for the archmages of Austira-Hungary. She left her mother behind in America after killing a man in self-defense, and she carries her fathers sword, Chun Yi. It is the only thing left of him that she has, along with a lifetime of questions about why he never stayed, why he wouldnt be a father to her. All she knows of him is that he called himself Leo and he has a distinct tattoo on the back of his neck.

The archmages work together to keep the
Sep 26, 2013 rated it liked it
The Cover

The book cover is divided into two major elements. Half of the book cover shows Ardis wielding Chun Yi, her sword, on a dark night with crows flying against a European-looking backdrop. The other half of the book cover shows the passionate embrace of a man and woman, who I inferred to be Wendel and Ardis respectively. I find that these two halves do not work together harmoniously; the book cover appears to be confused about its identity. The first half is very YA-ish, and hints that
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


I was drawn to this novel because, welllook at that cover! I often judge books by their covers, its a terrible habit. But it got me interested, and I was not disappointed at all. Hence the 5 star rating ;)

This was my first dieselpunk novel (heck, its my first steampunk novel too, I suppose). I was like what the hell is dieselpunk? Is it steampunk
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Karen Kincy (Duvall, 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.

Other books in the series

Shadows of Asphodel (3 books)
  • Storms of Lazarus (Shadows of Asphodel #2)
  • Specters of Nemesis (Shadows of Asphodel, #3)

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When it comes to mysteries and thrillers, we're all guilty of loving a good trope from time to time. From "The butler did it!" to "They all did...
152 likes · 43 comments
“Someone,” he said softly, “had to love them enough to bring them back.” Ardis stared at him. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to kiss him or smack him. “How did you know…?” she said. Wendel looked at her with the saddest smile she had ever seen. “I figured that if you didn’t,” he said, “it wasn’t worth coming back.” 1 likes
“Are you always this sadistic?” he said.
She glanced at him. “Are you always this delicate?”
He scowled. “I’m so glad you aren’t a nurse.”
“Me, too.”
More quotes…