Review: Ward Against Death

Reviewed by Jen

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

Click to purchase: Amazon 
Ward Against Death
by Melanie Card
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

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