Review: "Shadows of Asphodel" by Karen Kincy

Come blogger ci sono numerose possibilità per conoscere nuovi libri e generi, ma di certo non mi sarei mai aspettata che, seguendo altre persone su Twitter, sarei finita per scoprire un genere a me sconosciuto e un bellissimo libro come quello che vi presento oggi.
“Shadows of Asphodel” di Karen Kincy è un dieselpunk, un sottogenere del cyberpunk ambientato in un mondo analogo allo steampunk, benché specificamente caratterizzato dall’ascesa del potere del petrolio e dalla percezione tecnocratica. Cosa aspettarsi da un libro del genere? Zeppelin, automi e le invenzioni di Diesel, tutto agli albori della Prima Guerra Mondiale.
Si tratta di un’uscita recente (13 Settembre 2013) e purtroppo (per noi italiani) è disponibile solo in inglese.
Ho ricevuto questo libro dall’autrice stessa in cambio di un’onesta opinione

As a blogger there are many opportunities to learn about new books and genres, but certainly I would never have expected that, following other people on Twitter, I would end up to find a genre unknown to me and a wonderful book like the one I am presenting today.
“Shadows of Asphodel” by Karen Kincy is a dieselpunk, a sub-genre of cyberpunk set in a world similar to steampunk, though specifically characterized by the rise of petroleum power and technocratic perception. What to expect from such a book? Zeppelin, automatons and Diesel’s inventions, all in the early days of the First World War.

It is a new release (September 13th 2013) and unfortunately (for Italians) is only available in English.
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest opinion.

1913. The death of the Belle Époque and the brink of the Great War.

Outlawed in America, armed with only an antique sword, Ardis just wants to do her job. As a mercenary, she works to keep the peace in Transylvania. Truthfully, this kind of peacekeeping involves beheading rebels who oppose the empire of Austria-Hungary. It shouldn’t be too hard—gunpowder has been useless ever since the archmages of Vienna cursed the entire continent of Europe with the Hex.

But Ardis never expected to find an unarmed gentleman bleeding out on the battlefield: Wendel, who manages to be a charming bastard even on the verge of death. And she certainly never expected him to revive the dead to fight for him. Wendel is a necromancer. He can’t die unless Ardis wants him to return as a monster—or so she has heard. Afraid to find out, she saves his life.

When Wendel swears fealty to Ardis, they forge an uneasy alliance underscored with sexual tension. Together, they confront rebels, assassins, and a conspiracy involving the military secret of Austria-Hungary: robotically-enhanced soldiers built by the inventor of the diesel engine, Rudolf Diesel himself. But as Ardis starts to fall for Wendel, she realizes the scars from his past run more deeply than she ever imagined. Only Ardis can stop the necromancer before his thirst for revenge destroys him and everyone else around him.

(Dieselpunk romance. Recommended for ages 17 and up.)

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In italiano


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 him, but Wendel, this is the man’s name, is a necromancer and kill an abomination of this kind is not an idea to consider. And when Ardis decides to spare his life, Wendel swears fealty to her.
This is just the beginning of their journey, traveling around Europe and beyond, which will lead them to know themselves more deeply than they can imagine. The tension between the two is palpable from the first pages and grows in a crescendo culminating in the city of Vienna.

Ardis and Wendel are two completely different personalities, but also very similar. They both bring their wounds more or less concealed, wounds that can be traced back to their families and their past life experiences. Ardis is determined, she knows death, but at the same time she is afraid, and the gift of Wendel’s bothering her much more than she can express in words. He, however, never asked to have a “talent” of the genre, it is at least as scared as Ardis, but, unlike her, he is deeply fascinated. But will the few similarities unite them or will the differences divide them?
On the background of what promises to be one of the major conflicts in the world, their lives will intersect more than once, and many secrets about their past will be revealed.
The scene is stolen by these two great characters, even if I have to make a special mention for Konstantin and the historical (and not) character of Diesel. If I had doubts initially about the first, given by a sort of sixth sense, for the second I immediately had a strong empathy.

Speaking of the setting, Vienna is essentially the background to most of the story. But in the end we will have a touch of the East with Constantinople and even a pinch of England. The train travels and those on the zeppelin, then, are the icing on the cake and make you want to go back in time to try them in person.
Europe is not the one we know and also some facts not occurred in the same manner. I loved the way in which this book is the story combined with the fiction (in particular for the disappearance of Diesel).
And then there’s the Hex, a sort of enchantment devised by Archmages, which makes it unusable any firearm, one of the planes which serves to slow down the arrival of the war. But will this be enough to stop it really?

To this and all other questions, you can answer only by reading this well-written novel, which tells, in a totally alternative what would have happened in 1913 and especially the story between Ardis and Wendel.


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Recensione in italiano



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