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Necromancing the Stone

Review

Necromancing the Stone

In HOLD ME CLOSER NECROMANCER, Lish McBride’s funny and macabre debut, Sam LaCroix, a young fast food fry cook in Seattle, finds out he is a necromancer --- he has the power to call up the dead. Not only that, but an even more powerful necromancer named Douglas Montgomery tries to kill him, his best friend transforms into a were-bear, his mother and sister turn out to be witches, and he falls in love with a beautiful werewolf. This sequel, NECROMANCING THE STONE, finds Sam trying to settle into his new life: living in his former enemy’s house, wrestling werewolves, sitting on a magical council and dating his new girlfriend, Brid.

"Sometimes it verges on silly, but the threat of harm to the characters is always real, the violence is fairly extreme and the villain is quite evil...With a willingness to suspend disbelief, readers will be treated for an entertaining and spooky read just in time for Halloween."

But Sam’s new life is not easy. The former Montgomery estate is enchanted with ferocious gnomes and attacking shrubbery. Sam assigns his friend and new roommate Frank to negotiate peace with the properties non-human inhabitants but that only annoys James. James is sometimes cat, sometimes dragon but still emotionally (and sometimes physically) human, and served as Douglas’s assistant for many years. But, just as Sam inherited the estate from Douglas, he inherited James as well. The two begin to work out their complicated relationship just when things start to go horribly awry. 

When Brid’s father, the leader of a mighty werewolf pack, is found murdered, Sam is called upon to investigate though many suspect he is the guilty party. Could another necromancer be at work? Or worse, could Douglas Montgomery be back? While Sam to get to the bottom of the mystery, he is reeling from his break-up with Brid, now her pack’s leader. Not to mention the fact that someone is threatening his little sister, and things with James remain tense. How can Sam make things safe for those he loves? How can he recover from the recent violence he has experienced? Will he ever be free of Douglas Montgomery? And what is Keanu Reeves doing in the story? 

Just like in the first book about Sam LaCroix, McBride offsets the ghoulish and bizarre with humor. NECROMANCING THE STONE is successfully funny, dark and strange --- a hard combo to pull off. But McBride really shines as she fleshes out James’ character and his developing relationship with Sam. Their relationship is the most nuanced aspect of the book and the most interesting, as well.

This story is bursting with an assortment of magical creatures, from witches to chupacabras and from big foot to ghosts. Sometimes it verges on silly, but the threat of harm to the characters is always real, the violence is fairly extreme and the villain is quite evil. There are elements of more familiar popular ghoulish tales here: a loyal werewolf pack and young love like in the Twilight series; a humble and ordinary fry cook with magical powers to interact with the dead as in the Odd Thomas books; a piece of the bad guy hidden away and protected like in the Harry Potter series; and a general blending of the mundane and the supernatural like in so many Stephen King novels. But McBride has a distinct voice. Her writing is fast and funny with plenty of contemporary and pop culture references. With a willingness to suspend disbelief, readers will be treated for an entertaining and spooky read just in time for Halloween.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on October 12, 2012

Necromancing the Stone
by Lish McBride