YA Review & Contest: WARD AGAINST DEATH by Melanie Card

How about some “Upper YA”? It’s a subgenre that’s long overdue, IMHO. Until recently, there’s been a generation gap between Young Adult paranormal books, which feature protagonists under 18, and Adult paranormals, which usually feature characters 25 and older. So, what, people just disappear for seven years in between? No one wants to write about characters going through what is arguably one of the most formative periods of their lives? You know—when they really meet “the one,” decide what they’re going to do with their lives, finally realize they don’t, in fact, know everything? 

Welcome to “upper YA,” which I hope to see more of. I’ll be featuring a couple of books in this new genre this week. See what you think. Today’s offering: Ward Against Death, by debut author Melanie Card.
THE OFFICIAL BLURB: 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…

MY THOUGHTS: I had to get past a couple of quibbles with Ward Against Death: There’s that apostrophe’d last name, De’Ath, which is one of my personal fantasy peeves, but at least it’s pronounceable and we don’t see it very often. And Ward himself maybe has had a few too many life experiences to be twenty years old. But it’s not as quibble-producing as the YAs that feature 16-year-olds upon whose thin shoulders rest the fate of humankind, a plot device that annoys the crap out of me. None of that here.
            Once I get past those two minor quibbles, this is a really fun read. In a nice reversal of what we see in most YA, where the girl is the naive one with sudden inexplicable powers, here we have the guy, Ward, who’s the ultimate geekboy, cute but awkward around girls and way out of his league around the spoiled, lethal Celia. He’s caught between what his society will allow him to be and where his real talents lie (this is set in a medieval-feeling fantasy kingdom), whereas Celia is caught between the machinations of her family and whoever, or whatever, killed her before Ward raised her from the dead. (And she has an annoying habit of redying, which makes him have to hang around to revive her again.)
            There’s a lot of humor, a sweetly developing relationship, a fun fantasy world that has both an urban fantasy and a medieval feel to it, and a couple of memorable characters I hope to see more of. This is the first in a new Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer series.
Want to win a copy of Ward Against Death? What do you think about the idea of a new “Upper YA genre”?  You know the drill: +1 for comment, +1 for blog follow, +1 for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and +1 for Tweet or Retweet.
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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

32 thoughts on “YA Review & Contest: WARD AGAINST DEATH by Melanie Card

  1. I’m so glad you did a review on this book. This is one I’ve been thinking about reading from the new publishing company. My thoughts about upper YA: I love it. I too wished they did more books in this age group. I’m 36, but I enjoy reading YA as well as adult paranormal. This would be a great age group to read about. I think you could do a little bit more with the characters too.

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  2. I never thought about this book being YA-lol. I had read a few chapters a while ago, but I guess given the age of Ward- that’s what it is!

    I’m looking forward to reading it as the bit I saw before was fun and a good read :). Thanks for reviewing it!

    +comment, already a follower 😉

  3. Your opening paragraph got me excited about the “Upper YA” subgenre labeling and agree 100% with you that it’s very much overdue. I like that these books will be spotlighted.

    WARD AGAINST DEATH sounds terrific and has my curiosity. I very much want to see how Ward and Celia solve her “murder” and what her fate will be if they do or don’t, and what her demise will be as person raised from the dead.

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  4. “Upper YA” sounds great. I read a mix of YA and Adult. I tend to switch back and forth. So, an “Upper YA” right in the middle sounds pretty good. I like how the book sounds too.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  5. I love the concept of an Upper YA genera there are so many great books coming out that YA+ could be fabulous for us reading like a teen but older 😉

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    terilhack at gmail dot com

  6. I love the idea of upper YA! I’ve been wanting it for some time considering I’m twenty-two, almost twenty-three years old. As much as I love reading YA sometimes I’d like the chance to read about people closer to my own age. :]

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  7. This sounds like a great read! I love the series title: “Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer.” Very cute. This one is definitely on my “to buy” list. I expect that once my copy arrives at our house, my daughter’s going to want to read it too. 🙂

  8. An “upper YA” genre might be in order. There seems to be an awfully big gap for YA books. Some YA books I’ve read are very mature and yet by genre definition a pre-teen might even be able to read it. Great question!

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  9. We love the idea of “upper YA”. In fact that is where our Paranormal Thriller fits in. Our vampires are in their mid-20’s when they were turned over 300 years ago but still have the issues from a 20-something relationship.

    So now we have a sub-genre to slip into to. Thanks for giving us a home! BTW we are a trio of cousins working together – for once Thank God for peer pressure!

  10. @CM Elizabeth–what fun to have three cousins writing together! I think having a writing partner would be fun. All the best with your Upper YA 🙂

  11. It’s about time we had the genre!!

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  12. I think that “Upper YA” is what we long waited for. I hate this age gap between books. I am 21-years-old and I always look for books where characters are close to my age, so that I can relate to them better. I would also like to read more books where characters go in college.

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  13. I’d never heard of Upper YA. I’d love to see more books for this age group. Of course my to-be-read list will grow even bigger!

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    Thank you for the chance to win!

  14. I’m definitely into the upper YA. You’re right, LONG overdue. I’ve always thought there was an age range that was neglected. Glad to see it’s coming up!! 🙂

    I love this cover. Really attractive.

  15. This sounds really good, and has a great cover. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  16. Nice post about YA books for the older seven years between 18-25. I have a writer friend writing in that age range and she has found some resistance. I passed your blog on to my writer’s group.
    I followed your blog +1; twitter follow +1; tweeted you, +1; google+ you +1; commented +1 and enjoyed the process.
    I love paranormal. 😀

  17. I love the idea of upper YA! It bridges the gap between YA/teen and adult, which would be very cool in my opinion:)

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  18. When I was younger there was teen-ficiton but nobody bothered to write anything specifically aimed at the over 15s – you read adult fiction.
    Now YA covers ages from about 12 – 20 which is too wide a range. Upper YA would definitely be useful.

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  19. I like the idea. I’ve been looking for books on that genre but I haven’t found much. It’s funny because I just finished reading the only “upper YA” I found and it was great. (It was Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement Moore, in case anyone is curious).

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