Note: There are mild spoilers for Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, and a mild but warning-prefaced and font-color-protected spoiler for this second book, Necromancing the Stone.
Although this is a sequel to Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (see my review, here), the author has the protagonist explain right on page one what he has gone through lately, and by this means, we get all caught up without having to re-read.
I was quite surprised at how much I liked the first book in this series, because after all, it features necromancers, satyrs, vampires, werewolves, gnomes, furies, and every other sort of paranormal creature you can imagine (and some you can’t!). But the author’s clever puns and hilarious send-ups delighted me, so I quite looked forward to this follow-up book. My expectations might have been too high, however.
Sam LaCroix, a funny and likable college dropout in Seattle, found out in Book One that he is actually a necromancer (which is someone who can communicate with the dead, either by summoning their spirits or raising them bodily). In a fight for his life against another (but evil) necromancer, Douglas Montgomery, Sam’s best friend Ramon was turned into a werebear, his friend Brooke was decapitated, and he fell in love with the half-werewolf, half-fey-hound heir-apparent to lead the local werewolf pack, Bridin Blackthorn. It was quite a year for him.
In Book Two, we find Sam living, along with his friends Ramon and Frank, in Douglas Montgomery’s old house. He has the services of James, the resident house spirit (or “pukis”); Brooke, who is now Sam’s “ghostly girl Friday”; and Ashley, a “Harbinger” who serves as a go-between for souls. (She renders occasional help to Sam in exchange for waffles with whipped cream and real maple syrup.) Sam is being trained by Brid’s brothers in self-defense; he is still dating Brid; and he is contemplating his interesting life when everything changes.
MILD PLOT SUMMARY SPOILER IN NEXT PARAGRAPH; MOUSE OVER IT TO READ:
It turns out Montgomery is still alive, and he is out for blood – specifically, Sam’s blood and the blood of everyone Sam cares about. Somehow, Sam has to figure out how to “find” Montgomery from his netherworld location, and put a stop to the carnage before Montgomery puts a stop to him.
Evaluation: Although Lish McBride again adds plenty of wit to her ongoing story of Sam and his paranormal companions, I liked the first book better. I came to this sequel expecting the same sort of zaniness that prevailed in Book One. In this book, the author spends more time developing the characters and exploring moral dilemmas. Yes, McBride evinces skill in her warm portrayal of love and loyalty and friendship, but at the same time she tries to maintain the first book’s tone of a very humorous burlesque featuring quirky paranormals of every stripe. I found this odd mix of whimsy and solid stuff a bit disconcerting. That said, who can resist such characters as Stanley, the affectionate (albeit dead) elk with the velvety nose? I’ll definitely be back for book three!
Published by Henry Holt and Company, 2012