Review and Brew: Larkspur, or A Necromancer’s Romance by V.M. Jaskiernia

 

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About

Larkspur, or A Necromancer’s Romance by V.M. Jaskiernia is a dark fantasy romance novelette featuring a necromancer as the lead character. It manages to pack a lot of worldbuilding into a short, 48-page story. If you’re in the mood to try something that’s (possibly) a little different from what you usually read, this might be a good choice.

Setting

The world of Larkspur feels like it’s set in the Victorian era. We are introduced to two main types of magic users: necromancers and faeries. The fae are only hinted at in this story, but necromancy is explored in some depth. Necromancers can use their blood to enslave or kill others and can even write secret messages in blood.

Characters

The two main characters are Pierre and Elizabeth. Pierre is the son of wealthy nobility and is just returning from the end of his schooling. Unknown to most, he is also an accomplished necromancer. He has to keep this secret because necromancy is frowned upon. Something about dark magic and killing people.

Elizabeth is portrayed as Pierre’s love interest, similar to a high school sweetheart. They lost touch while Pierre was away at university, but are reunited at the start of the story.

Death itself is also a character in this book. Necromancers have a rather intimate relationship with death, which adds an air of darkness to the story and sets the groundwork for future conflict in following books.

Plot

The plot is somewhat brief, since this is a novelette. Pierre has finally returned from school and is ready to take the next step in his development as a necromancer. After meeting each other for what I think is the first time in years, hints of an old romance are rekindled between Pierre and Elizabeth.

The story was nicely self-contained, so you can read it as a standalone, though I believe the sequel was recently released.

Writing Style

It’s a bit difficult to compare this to full-length novels, since a lot had to be conveyed to the reader in a short time. The prose is fairly straightforward, spending a good bit of time on worldbuilding in addition to telling the actual story. I think the author managed to strike a reasonable balance between world, plot, and character.

Should You Read This?

You might like this if you like hard magic systems and detailed worlds. Given the amount of romances out there involving vampires or werewolves, the focus on a necromancer was a nice change of pace. I don’t read much romance, but having the main character be a male stood out to me, as well.

If you prefer full-length stories or relatable characters, this might not be for you. I had trouble finding any redeemable qualities in the main character, but I recognize that some might consider that a positive.

Overall, if a short, dark fantasy romance sounds appealing to you, you might want to give this a try.

Recommended Beverage Pairing

Black Blood of the Earth

For a more humane way to drink blood while you practice the dark arts of necromancy, consider this highly-caffeinated beverage.

That said, please do not actually purchase Black Blood of the Earth. It’s absurdly expensive (almost $60 per liter? please) and is basically just cold brew. I recommend this Aeropress recipe instead:

Materials:

  • Aeropress coffee maker
  • 1 12 oz plastic water bottle, frozen
  • 2 paper Aeropress filters
  • 1 container, at least 12 oz
  • Push pin
  • Scissors
  • 50g coarse ground coffee (pre-ground coffee will taste more bitter)

Directions:

  1. Place one of your Aeropress filters in the filter holder like you would for normal Aeropress brew and screw the filter and housing onto the Aeropress.
  2. Fill your Aeropress with the coffee, level the coffee bed and place the device onto your mason jar (filter side down).
  3. Take your second Aeropress filter and trim it slightly so it will fit inside the Aeropress chamber. Place the trimmed filter on the top of your coffee bed to form a “coffee sandwich” with the filters being the bread.
  4. Pour a small amount of water (20-40 mL) over the top of the filter to dampen it.
  5. Take your frozen bottle of water and poke several holes (5-10) into the bottom of the bottle. Poke a 3 or 4 holes into the lid of the bottle (do not remove the lid). Place the frozen and perforated bottle on top of the Aeropress with the lid/tapered end inside of the Aeropress so the ice melt will drip onto the coffee bed.
  6. Your set up should look like this (from bottom to top): Mason jar, Aeropress then frozen and perforated bottle.
  7. Depending on your room temperature, the bottle will take between 10-14 hours to melt and complete your brewing process.
  8. Clean up is mess free. Discard your bottle and clean the Aeropress like normal.
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