There is one thing I love best about fantasy novels: that anything can happen. It’s not like in mystery books where even the most twisted of plots can be solved, or in romances that either end with a predictable happy ending or a dramatic parting. Fantasy books are never ending. The bad guys never fully die, the heroes have an endless supply of tricks and a ridiculous amount of good luck, the plot line never fully makes sense and weird creatures abound. With my particular taste in books is it any wonder that I picked up Lish McBride’s debut novel “Hold Me Closer, Necromancer”? The title alone promises a great fantasy read, the chapter titles are awesome and the black and red book cover of the protagonist with a crow on his shoulder is more than enticing. And so I avidly started to read. And once I began I couldn’t stop. The book is about a teenage boy, Sam, down on his luck working a dead-end job in a place where all your dreams come to die. But an innocent prank brings upon him a chance meeting with Douglas, a very powerful and violent necromancer who wants Sam to join him… or else. Sam soon discovers that he is also a necromancer, with very latent powers, and with the help of his Scooby band – Ramon, Frank and a sort of dead Brooke – he must find a way to save himself and those he loved from the clutches of the evil Doug… all in just a week.
Despite the dark undertones of the book, the heavy presence of the supernatural and the creatures that are painted more viciously here than in other books of this kind, the story flows nicely from page to page, and McBird keeps it funny and creepy at the same time, a rare feat. I especially liked the quirky and sarcastic sense of humor of all of the characters. Sam, a self-deprecating, down on his luck kind of a guy, who goes from zero to hero in a matter of days and his friends and family, especially Ramon and Brooke are equally funny and original and I loved the werewolf hybrid, Bird, who is not only strong and smart, but can really kick butt! A werewolf hybrid, where else do you find that?
Of course the book is far from perfect, but then again they can’t all be Harry Potter. As fun and enjoyable as Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was, you can definitely feel that it was McBird’s first novel. The plot never fully reaches its potential and the ending lacks the big finale I expected. Even the characters fall a little flat at the end and the story is wrapped up too fast, as if the author ran out of will to write any more. However, as a first timer, McBird does a pretty good job at keeping the book entertaining and I would most definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a laugh or a fun fantasy read.
-posted by Monika, children’s desk staff