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Book Review: Hold Me Closer Necromancer

G D Penman By G D Penman Published on January 14, 2016

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Every week of 2016 I am going to read and review a book. This means that while you may not always get an in depth dissection whatever my gut reaction to a book was will be presented here without time softening my opinions.

Urban fantasy has been one of my favourite genres since before it was codified into a genre at all, back when the books were marketed as horror or relegated to small press publishers. Urban fantasy is ridiculously easy to read compared to your garden variety fantasy because all of the world building that currently dominates the larger genre is relegated to a little supernatural corner. The focus can be on characters and plot and all of the things that make a story tick. This is simultaneously one of my big problems with urban fantasy.

There are a plethora of alternate history books showing how just one tiny detail can completely re-route the entire flow of events, how is it possible that the full kitchen sink of the supernatural world could exist without having any impact? Some stories delve right into this matter while others divert with conspiracies or minute alterations to the world, others lazily brush past it entirely. Hold Me Closer Necromancer balances laziness and conspiracy in a way that should infuriate me but instead works as an excellent aspect of the authorial voice.

Our hero, the dubiously named Samhain Corvus LaCroix has dropped out of college, he is employed in a fast food restaurant where he seems to be competent only in comparison to his co-workers and best friends who are actively trying to sabotage the business out of spite. Every one of these characters is both instantly recognisable as an archetype of retail employment and has a full breadth of personality that makes them surprisingly endearing. They are that most wonderful thing in the realm of fiction, a found family.

From this core of lovable scamps we are accidentally introduced to the supernatural world at large when Sam is found to be a necromancer, capable of raising the dead with his magical powers. Soon he is embroiled in a turf war with Chicago's resident necromancer in chief with a swathe of were-beasts and supernatural oddities along for the ride.

Hold Me Closer Necromancer is written with such wit and humour that the brief moments of sincerity and sadness can really be felt in contrast. The idiosyncratic chapter names and pun title relating to Sam's inherited record collection only add to the degree you are drawn into the world. All of the shock and humour that can be milked from each situation is drawn out and while the story lacks the narrative flow of an epic, it benefits from its limited scope, with each moment mattering to the reader as much as they matter to the characters experiencing events themselves. While the supernatural world clearly has great depth, this book only dips its toes into the shallow end with an awareness of just how much is still hidden under the surface.

I rushed through Hold Me Closer Necromancer because I was enjoying it so much, now I am wishing that I had taken my time and prolonged the experience. Lish McBride is an author to watch.

G.D. Penman writes about queer monsters for a living. He is the author of Call Your Steel, The Year of the Knife, Heart of Winter, Apocrypha and many other books. He is also a full-time freelance ... Show More

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