Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Another day of fast food drudgery is almost at an end when a stranger walks into Plumpy’s. Okay, so Plumpy’s is a fast food restaurant and lots of strangers walk in. But even college dropout fast food workers like Sam can recognize that there’s something different about this guy. And it’s not just his shoes (way more expensive than those of your typical Plumpy’s customer) or the weird things the guy is saying (petitioned the Council? What Council?).
Turns out the guy is Douglas Montgomery, the scariest, most powerful necromancer in the Seattle area. Though Sam didn’t know it, he’s got some necromantic powers of his own. Unfortunately for Sam, Montgomery does not want any competition in the necromancy business (and it is a business—just ask the zoo), no matter how weak the competition may be. Now, even though he’d previously had no idea necromancers actually existed, Sam has only one week to figure out how to avoid Montgomery’s clutches or Montgomery will kill Sam, his friends, and his family.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is an urban fantasy that feels fresh and imaginative. It works partly because Lish McBride doesn’t shy away from blood and violence; by demonstrating Montgomery’s ruthlessness, the reader knows that Sam and those close to him really are in danger. Combine this with McBride’s voice, the sly humor, and Sam’s everyday likability, and you’ve got a story that grabbed me from the first page and kept me entertained until the end.
The narrative switches between Sam’s first-person point-of-view and a third-person narration when chapters focus on secondary characters. Though I missed Sam’s narration at first, I quickly got into the third-person chapters as well, which serve to introduce readers to the important secondary characters and develop worldbuilding that is important to the story. And regardless of POV, McBride’s debut novel is consistently funny and suspenseful. (The chapter titles also added to my amusement.)
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is one of five finalists for the Morris Award. I don’t know if it will win, but I do know that I want more stories about Sam and his friends.
Cross-posted at Guys Lit Wire.