The Courting of Life and Death

by VMJaskiernia

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Traumatising content

Buy the books, or cross-post your RR review - BOOK 2 OUT NOW! ❤

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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Macabre Fantasy Romance

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Characters, Maps, and Lore ago
Books ago
1.1 ~ Gala ago
1.2 ~ Illness ago
1.3 ~ Lord of Death ago
1.4 ~ Fairies and Daimons ago
1.5 ~ Murder ago
1.6 ~ Poison ago
2.1 ~ Spirits of Death ago
2.2 ~ Cræft ago
2.3 ~ Fée Funeral ago
2.4 ~ Her Fate ago
2.5 ~ Witch ago
2.6 ~ Flirting ago
2.7 ~ A Favor ago
2.8 ~ Château ago
2.9 ~ Death and Dreams ago
2.10 ~ Council Meeting ago
2.11 ~ Dancing Lessons ago
2.12 ~ Going Into Town ago
2.13 ~ Sabine ago
2.14 ~ Letters ago
2.15 ~ The Ladies ago
2.16 ~ Secrets ago
2.17 ~ Foundling ago
2.18 ~ Surgery ago
2.19 ~ Authority ago
2.20 ~ More Letters ago
2.21 ~ Fairy Boots ago
2.22 ~ Fortune Telling ago
2.23 ~ Dead ago
2.24 ~ Dinner ago
2.25 ~ Blancræft ago
2.26 ~ Necrocræft ago
2.27 ~ Presence of Death ago
2.28 ~ Meetings ago
2.29 ~ Magic of Death ago
2.30 ~ Familiar ago
2.31 ~ Midspring and Summerfinding ago
2.32 ~ Church ago
2.33 ~ Mora ago
2.34 ~ Feuilles ago
2.35 ~ The Prince and the Duc ago
2.36 ~ Cold Iron ago
2.37 ~ Cursed ago
2.38 ~ Fay ago
2.39 ~ Loyalties ago
2.40 ~ Ghosts ago
2.41 ~ Clinic ago
2.42 ~ Hospital ago
2.43 ~ Blood ago
2.44 ~ Summer ago
2.45 ~ Jourdain ago
2.46 ~ Caught ago
2.47 ~ Death ago
2.48 ~ Requiem ago
2.49 ~ Engagement ago
2.50 ~ Truth ago
2.51 ~ Revenge ago
3.1 ~ Wedding ago

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drakan_glasses BE NICE! Fair critique is fair, but be respectful & follow the review rules. There will be no mercy.
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strand VV

 To me this was a mix of myster of magic, this work is honestly phenomenal, it was like reading a classic novel mixed with the novelty of plot, magic and mystery of web serials. I honestly loved it. 


The style of the story was filled with the mystery and charm of the story, it conveyed to me how that world is much different from other mystery and magic stories, if I had a bone to pick it would be that sometimes i was confused due to the structure, but those were very few.


The story and plot itself, oh were they good, reading the first few chapters told me how much of this world was built and thought upon by the author i really want and hope it to continues that way.


I did not feel there was something wrong with the grammar so nothing from me here.


I read about a quarter of the current released chapters so for what i saw in the charcters was they each held a distinct characteristics based on their position in royalty and in the plot. The MC was the one that held a bit of character that steamed out from emotion. But like i said i stopped fairly early on and i am sure the rest of the characters get fleshed out later. 


Emily Bronte Paints it Black

Reviewed at: 1.6 ~ Poison

That. Was. Awesome. I read to the end of book one. So far, it’s excellent. It was a combination of things I never knew I needed, like Cheerios and chocolate milk, tacos and blue cheese, lemon juice and menudo. If I were to describe the story to you, it would Jane Austen in her black period. Pride and prejudice but metal AF. Rammstein but delightfully sensitive. 

It is solid. And I’ll be honest, I put it off. I put it off because, boo hoo, I’m a man, I don’t have time for no sensitive romance. But this romance is metal as hell, death is a character, and Pierre and Elizabeth are both so interesting and alluring they’ll make thoroughly reevaluate your position on the Kinsey scale. 

Okay so, obviously I’m drunk, but I’m going to try and be intelligible for a bit. VMJ’s style is incredibly clean. The dialogue flies off the the page. The characters are fascinating, and occasionally infuriating, but in the sense that you want to slap them across the face and make them say nice things to each other, never in the take-them-behind-the shed-and-shoot-them sort of way. It’s this manifestation of constant tension and face-rending stress of what the characters will do next and oh, hot damn, that’s right, there’s necromancers in this story and it’s friggin relevant and interesting y’all, and maybe dating a necromancer isn’t such a good idea, but he’s hot and significantly more interesting that housecarl daryl in the tower across the way, so you can’t exactly blame her and holy crap what’s going to happen next?! Interrobang. 

God dang I’m pumped and clearly limiting my language for RR friendliness. 

Y’all. This story is a labor of love. It shows from the first word to the last sentence. Even if romance isn’t traditionally your thing, give it a shot. Got a thing for the macabre? VMJ’s got you. Want some sweet and fluffy moments? VMJ’s got you. Want a moment where you look at everything that’s occurred and completely recalibrate and reevaluate everything you’ve read and judgements on the characters you thought you previously understood? 

VMJ’s got that too.

Love it. Not a minute was wasted and I’m coming back for more when I’m sober. 



A Dark and Fanciful Tale of Love and Death

Reviewed at: 18 ~ Delphinium ~ Going into town

I would start by simply saying that this story is a MUST read. I do not tend to give 5 stars in all categories but alas my hand was forced by the masterpiece that this story is. A tale written in the realm of Clandestina filled with magic and cræft it will take you through a journey of the tale of old when magic was much more real and dire.


If I could I would have given this category 10 stars, but I only have 5 to work with so I had to make do. The writing style represents something written in the 1800s and it is a PLEASURE to read. The interaction, the world building, the subtle hints, the way the characters think, the way everything fits the image of this realm of magic Clandestina is something I am in love with it and I think you will be too. 


The story has a lot of aspects mixed into it, political intrigue, romance (not the sappy kind), drama, etc. Our protagonist courts death itself and while death is a strength there are consequences for it. The beautiful way that the author has expanded on necromancy had me gripped right from the start. A different and such a refreshing take over a magic that has been over-generalized by LitRPG, it takes spirits and death and the nature of Afterlife into account and overall is just delightful to read with a lot of potential for the future. An easy 5/5 here.


Very rare typos but flawless otherwise if I was petty then I would have cut a half star here but honestly, I was so enamored by the story that I never even notice the typos. 5/5


What would you say when Death herself was a character? Each character has a purpose a goal, and each one seems equally deep and well thought. The only difference that I see between the main characters and side characters? How much we know about them. I will not spoil here so JUST GO READ! You will not be disappointed as right from the first chapters the characters drag you to travel through their tale, full of Life and Death. 

Give the story some time it may take a while to grow on you, as the text is dense and filled to the brim with content so some reader may feel overwhelmed but go past that and you would have in your hands a masterpiece you wish was on your bookshelf too. 

TL;DR Go Read it!


V. M. Jaskiernia pens a lighthearted romance steeped in horror—or is it perhaps a horror that has instead been beset by romance? Nuances of the dark and tantalizing blot across the finery of Victorian intrigue, with dread and delight waxing and waning in tandem to vie for the reader's attention. Larkspur's single defining shortfall is its brevity⁠—this fiction will capture you with its heartfelt whimsy and then steal your last breath away.


10/10 would recommend ;)

Reviewed at: 2.12 ~ Going Into Town

This reads way different from most RR novels in my opinion ( no offense). I love the magic system and how vague it is as that's what magic is about for me. The characters all have their personalities and motivations. So ya, would recommend


An amazing read, well worth the time

Reviewed at: ~ First Kiss ~

What can I say. Impeccable grammar and story telling. A refreshing style of story. Budding romances and ver very interesting and ethereal magic complementing a victorian age style collection of fae realms. 


The first thing that will stand out to you, when you read this work, is how well written it is.  The variety of prose, their flow, the word choice.  It's a joy to read.  Grammar 5/5, Style 5/5 easily.  The quality of writing is consistent, at least for the first 7 chapters.
Story:  It's a cool story that's filled with detail.  The world the story takes place in is clearly well thought out.  I love the little details that give the world a lived-in feeling.  The story in the early part is exciting if a bit slow-paced to start, but once things pick up it's very engaging. 4.5/5.

Character:  The characters have personalities, desires and quirks.  The omnipotent narrator will tell you what each person is thinking allowing the reader to get to know the characters well. 5/5

Overall 5/5.  A great story, and clearly head and shoulders above most of the stories here on royal road.


Style 4.5/5, the story is written very well, no complaints here, I'd apprechiate some imagery but that's just a personal thing.

The pacing is great and the world gets a fair amount of descriptions.


Gramma 5/5, as always, not much to say :D


Story 4.5/5, while the setting seemed pretty standard in the begining, I've definitely been caught off-guard by the end of chapter one and I have to say I'm liking what I see! 

I'm looking forward to a unique adventure!


Characters, so far while the characters' motives aren't perfectly clear, I can tell they aren't 2D caricatures, so I'm giving the story the benefit of the doubt and rating them 4.5/5


I definitely reccomend you give this story a read, it's a fun and easy read :D


As the beginning of the synopsis says, Clandestina is a world full of secrets. It is a land of magic and fantasy that the reader is thrown into with no explanation. As one continues to read the veil of mystery is slowly pulled away, revealing an intriguing dark fantasy.

The story itself starts dark. Not in a grimdark way but in the way a moonless night can be disturbing. But as you read the darkness gives way to a beautiful romantic tale involving the main character and his love. Pierre and Elizabeth bring the light to the darkness and you can't help but hope their love succeeds.

VMJaskernia's characters remind me of reading classic love stories like Pride and Prejudice. There is a distinct tone for each voice and the dialogue flows like water. Nothing a character says feels stilted or out of place.

The style of the story only helps to add to the dark and mysterious air. The third-person style allows the author to slowly peel back the layers of complexity in each character, giving us more of the world and the magical machinations that occur. In turn, the bits and pieces we do learn only heighten the sense of foreboding or enhance the feelings of love between our characters.

Finally, the entire story is held together by some solid grammar. If a romantic dark fantasy is right up your alley don't hesitate to check this out.


l nimbus

Dark. Deep. Delightful. Macabre at heart.

Reviewed at: 2.39 ~ Loyalties

This one is going to be a bit different. 


For the purpose of preventing my reviews from being formualiac and because the story itself warrants it, this review will be written in a slightly different format and the story taken a look at from an angle different to most of my reviews. 


This is not your standard RoyalRoad story, by a lengthy shot, and deserves to be treated as such. Keep in mind that I may gloss over and even leave out some elements I usually include in my reviews for this purpose. 


With that, onto the first subject.


The Courting is not a story well-suited for RR, and in a good way. It's blatantly published-quality work, and part of a genre that is niche on RR. That said, it is a very readable and fascinating experience, if a bit hard to get into in the first few chapters. Stick with it, however. The first twist will make it well worth it. 


It is unashamedly a romance story, but not consumed by that or unreadable to those who come for the dark fantasy instead. 


Will the average RoyalRoad reader enjoy it or have the patience to take part of this patiently burning story? Somewhat doubtful. It requires investment and the willingness to wait for your payoffs, not instant gratification. 


The dark fantasy element is, again, non-standard to this site. Whereas most stories labeled Dark Fantasy on RR border on grimdark and are often grim and depressing clusterfuqs of hopelessness and horrible places where no one gets to have anything good, The Courting is far more subtle and elegant about it, yet suitably macabre and dark. 


This is shown through the character, lore and minimal exposition. The necrocraft is a delightful turn away from standard dark magicks, with its own unique twists and rules, and one of the few magic systems I actually became interested in and meshed well with the setting of Clandestina. 


Mora is perhaps one of the most involved deity-like (not the correct label but close enough) characters I've come across, appearing and staying relevant to the plot early on. 


The characters are wholly well-done, which fits the theme of this being a polished fiction made to be published. Pierre seems like a white-knightish protagonist in the first few chapters, albeit with some hints at darker things, but the reveal and scene that cemented him as a very morally grey character was perfect. 


I wont say more regarding characters as I believe there is very little to critique, and other than praise regarding the cast and how well they mesh with the theme and setting of the story, I believe I can safely move on. 


It's more than worth noting that while the influence of the nobility and court politics are prevalent and only grow heavier as the story moves on, with Pierre occupying high positions in current chapters, it as well takes a step in a different direction. I applaud the step out of the usual English coury setting and modeling the nobility of Clandestina to have a very pervasive French influence instead, with all the nuance and freshness that accompanies that. 


The grammar is nothing less than perfect, and prose is what one would expect from a polished, published fiction. 


The style is uniquely rare in that it almost seems made specifically for the theme and setting of the story, giving it a depth and flow that further enhances the reader experience if you truly dedicate yourself to reading this. VMJ has a talent for setting up later payoffs and revelations that seem obvious in hindsight but hidden early on. As something who only occasionally manages this, this is what talent and hard work can amount to. 


Chapter length does vary, but instead of working towards and word count, the author goes for content instead, not throwing in useless fluff and filler simply to pad her word count and page numbers. Commendable.


If you enjoy romance stories that aren't just about the romance and offers smooth dialogue, true polish and top-quality editing, many-faceted characters, give this a try. If you like dark fantasy and would like to see a title on RR sway from the template while offering what you came for, and don't mind a well-constructed romance, by all means go ahead. 


I read. I enjoyed. And now I have reviewed. Short, but I would rather you actually go read the story than listen to me prattle on and on and grow bored.


...You're receiving an essentially polished and ready to publish book for free. Read it.