The Courting of Life and Death
- Traumatising content
Clandestina is a realm of secrets, fairies, and dark magics. Among the nobles there is talk of a goddess of death, and a forbidden magic she grants to those that follow her-- cræft that can heal injuries that should be fatal or even bring back the dead. But she asks for much in return; blood and sometimes even life itself.
Larkspur, or A Necromancer's Romance: Pierre Salvador has just returned to court after finishing his studies and becoming a surgeon. But as he flirts with his childhood friend Elizabeth Anne, Mora, The Lady of Death, waits for him.
Delphinium, or A Necromancer's Home: Lady Elizabeth Anne does not know about the dark magic her beloved practices, and he has no intent to tell her. As they travel to his childhood home for the summer, Pierre Salvador attempts to balance his newfound love with his murderous cræft and his duties as duc.
Aconitella, or A Necromancer's Wife: Coming Soon
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To start, I really love that "mini-wiki", if that's the right term, at the beginning of the table of contents, with the pictures, maps, and other stuff about the world like coinage and calendars. It really gives the world more foundation and weight, and I felt that the author has researched and planned for her story.
And just to get it out of the way, style and writing are both above the standard of this site. If there are errors, I haven't spotted them, and nothing took me out of my reading experience. Also nothing that can be considered purple prose, which I think usually happens more in period drama stories. Just smooth reading all throughout.
Moving on, I have to say that I normally do not read love stories, even more so period dramas. I assume everyone here is familiar with the mainstream genres and tropes in RoyalRoad, and those are the types of stories I usually read; I also assume that's the case for most readers here.
But I found myself enjoying this story.
Pierre Salvador is studying necrocraft, intending to be a master over death. Now, we follow his journey as he experiments and faces challenges, and there are also some flashbacks on how he started in this path. It sort of reminds me of "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" (also set in Victorian era) in the meticulous setup of the killings, except in this case Pierre isn't a psychopath but has relatable reasons for pursuing this grim path. The magical world the author built is expansive, drawing inspiration from folklore while adding her owns twists to it. In all, this is what drew me in even though like I said, I usually don't read love stories.
That is not to say I didn't enjoy the romance aspect. Which I did, really immensely. RoyalRoad is not really known for love stories even though stories here do incorcporate aspects of romance. Which is why I understand if not many people will try a love story in RoyalRoad because they'll be expecting cheesiness, or perhaps tacky or cringey relationships, something YAish. That is not the case at all. The author is very experienced in writing romance and relationships which matches the serious tone of the story.
Since reviews are supposed to be for prospective readers, I do hope this encourages more people to try this story. When you're taking a break from the usual stories in this site and you want to try other genres, I suggest you try this one. You won't be dissappointed.
It’s Gothic Romance plus a more traditional fantasy world—with a male protagonist. None of this is in my wheelhouse whatsoever and I didn’t go in expecting to enjoy it that much except in a professional sense of, “Oh that’s some interesting stuff.” And it’s even further away from the typical Royal Road wheelhouse as well, with no action and a heavy focus on the subtler parts of storytelling.
However, there’s a reason this story has such a high ranking on Royal Road and why it has vastly more views than you would ever expect going in—because the story itself is extremely good, so good that it somehow converts even the most ardent anti-fan into a true believer.
The writing hews close to that Gothic fiction style but with more modern syntax. The language is as memorable and vivid as in whatever 19th century books you may have read and loved. It’s grim and dark but never anything less than courteous and pretty. After reading my share of this story I had changed to another story to progress in it, and found immediately that I was disappointed that the nice writing had gone away. It’s rare that that happens on this site.
The characters are wonderful, too, following romance novel tropes closely but having really nice voices for each of the characters (and that’s despite an omniscient narrator). I am not far enough in the story as of this writing to accurately judge just how well the characters develop or how the plot goes, but it is all established well.
I’m sure other stories do it, but I was surprised to find that this story takes place in a fantasy world rather than the real one in a historical period. There’s a cool map, plus a fairy-like race and a bunch of minor lore that adds nice details (my favorite being a currency conversion chart in the first chapter).
I was surprised at the story’s success when I first started reading. Now I’m not surprised at all. I’ll definitely continue the rest of The Courting of Life and Death when I have the time and I hope you read it too.
Truly, I am much more chad than the people who rate this less than five stars..
I'll preface this review by disclosing that I'm not a fan of gothic settings or heavy romantic themes. However, the author had little trouble winning me over with beautiful writing, haunting imagery and intriguing characters.
Style is the story's strong point. I'm a big fan of dialogue-driven prose and in my opinion, The Courting of Life and Death has some of the best dialogue on all of Royal Road. It's not just what said, but what remains unsaid as well. VMJ captures the charm and language of court with a finesse I someday hope to master.
The Grammar is bloody excellent. Engrossed in the chapters, I didn't come across any and for that author gets the rare and flawless five-star rating.
Even though the Story is bloody amazing, I felt it suffers from pacing issues at times. This looks like a classic case of the author being in love with their lore and world and wanting to share it with the reader. However, this doesn't detract too much from the story and I managed to look past my usual issues with the genre and become fully immersed. (It did take me a bit longer to dive in, though. If not this review would've come a lot sooner.)
The Characters make the story shine like the seductive night-time star this story is. Each of them has their own voice and personality and gets the reader well truly invested in their plight.
Regency romance with a heavy dose of ghostly dark. Pierre is a man living in two worlds, one as a healer of the sick and the others as a necromancer. A dealer in both the exemplary and the forbidden. Lady Mora also straddles both ends of a spectrum. At one end, she is the demon she started her existence as. She is also the god the afterlife needs. Elizabeth Anne seems to be a simpler character, but I suspect she has secrets of her own.
It's a story that has drawn me in with exquisite prose and realistic characters surrounded by the fantastic. I can't wait to see what happens next.
Wow, just wow! I love the way each character talks. It oozes a pompous charm. This is going on my reading list. The world seems interesting and the character have so much chemistry. Also death sounds kind of cute. :)
The story grabs you from the start and is occasionally engaging in a jarring manner. It is a dark fantasy romance that always carries and air of mystery. It's pretty well-written and definitely a gem among the other dark fantasy entries here on RR. I think the way magic is used is unique and the main character is complex and layered--this is, for me, the ideal for keeping a narrative engaging for the reader.
It is a mysterious and romantic Dark Fantasy, one written with solid prose and dialogues. The concept of spirits, necrocraft, and whatnot, basically the magic system, in general, is unique. With death as a concept being literally personified into a Lady, and as a potential suitor to gain supernatural powers, just like our mysterious main character, it definitely makes for a good read. It also seems to set up a much, much larger narrative that would bring even more exhilarating concepts and mysteries.
This is an excellent story and there is no denying the author has put a lot of love and time into it's construction.
There are classic elements in the structure of the world that the author builds but they are blended with a unique touch and mystique that pulls the reader in. The details outlined with things such as necromancy show that the author has put a great deal of thought into how everything will work and what makes it truely unique to this world that we read of. It gave a whole additional layer for me as a reader to be interested about, for as the story progressed so to did my understanding of the world and my intrigue in the craft they describe.
The story is one of romance, but to call it just that would be an injustice. Our protaganist has returned to his homestead and the company of a childhood friend to whom he appears smitten. But the spirit of death seems to have already claimed our main character and this mysterious ghostly spectre of a woman comes to him and holds sway over his actions. As far as a premise goes this is pretty damn good. Our main character is a necromancer of sorts though he is still going through the trails which that entails.
The story is linear and each chapter progresses with the different days for the most part. With so much going on in the first few chapters this works to keep things coherent and the consistency is nice to see as a reader.
In the first few chapters we meet with only a few characters but everyone is well rounded and likeable. They all fit the setting well and have a clearly strong line for their development as the story progresses. Thus far my personal favorite is Ophion, who for the most part seems to understand the main character the most. The pair share a history in the same craft and while reading this gives him a lot of depth. Should his backstory be delved into further later in the book I would be delighted and if not then I very much would like to know more of this character.
All in all this is a very well writen story, with some amazing detail and great characters. I highly recomend anyone curious to give it a read.
So I gave this story a try.
I've never been the sort to dive into romances, so I was initially a little worried that I'd have to slog through some overdone Twilight-esque teen cringefest. And... that never happened. Instead, what you have is the story of a young man coming to grips with his own powers; someone that puts on the appearance of being a kind protagonist, but through his actions proves that he truly isn’t.
It’s a little strange, but right from the start there’s this feeling that the world is a whole lot bigger and more complicated than initially shown.
Slow initially. I think the start is mostly setting up dominos for later, but there’s enough motion and action to keep things moving even as the initial world building and exposition is laid out.
Third Omniscient. Not my favourite, but pulled off well enough that I can’t find fault with it. It does give the narration a good deal of flexibility when introducing the world. Speaking of...
Developed as heck. I still have lots of questions about the world, but most of these might be answered later. We see things through the eyes of the nobility, so it’s perhaps natural that some little things are ignored.
On the fence with this one. The characters seem damned well developed, and their voices and personalities shine through, yet I’d like to know a little more about their motivations. The main love interest is plain enough, but the main character wants to... do... something? It’s not clear yet. Still, there’s an obvious build towards something.
Anywho. A decent read, a fresh take on not!vampires and a cool world with just a pinch of romance for the people that are into that. Give it a try!