Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What we're reading: Lish McBride

Necromancing the Stone
by Lish McBride
342 pages
Fantasy/paranormal fiction
Two-book series (this is book two)
Reviewed by Melissa

We just finished reading Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride, for 10-12 Book Club. Anarda discovered this book first and insisted I read it; I really liked it, so we pitched it to the club. Most of them enjoyed it as much as we did. So this past weekend, I made time to read the sequel, Necromancing the Stone, and if anything, I liked it more.

All your favorite characters are back, a few short weeks after the dramatic conclusion to the first book, and now Sam has to go about the task of becoming Seattle's resident necromancer. This wasn't something he planned, and he is both untrained and totally unprepared for the challenges he will face. Complicating matters are such things as his werewolf girlfriend (who may be having second thoughts), the new status of his three best friends (ghost, were-bear, and personal assistant), and his inherited and rather sulky chief factotum, James the pukis. Then someone significant dies, there are unexpected results involving the use of his powers as a raiser of the dead, and evidence points to there being a sinister force at work behind the scenes. Throw in some smackdowns by various paranormal entities, not to mention his personal baggage with his family, and Sam is understandably feeling a bit overwhelmed.

One reviewer on Amazon said that this is really James's book, and while I disagree (I feel that Sam is always the heart and soul of the story), I do think that James's dilemma is heart-rending, as well as crucial to the plot. The fine line Sam walks is how to be who he is and do what he does without turning into the evil Douglas Montgomery, and the challenges set up to test his resolve are many, frequent, and sometimes devastating--but good cheer is maintained throughout, and the dialogue is witty. McBride keeps a really nice balance of serious ethical choice and zany comic relief in this book, and makes it easy to become personally engaged with and root for her characters.

The other thing I love is that while McBride could choose to do another book about these people, the story that was started in book one comes to a satisfying conclusion in book two, and they stand together as a perfect, self-contained unit. If she decides to come back and write another, it will be gravy--but she didn't leave anything significant hanging there waiting for resolution, and I appreciate that! While I am a big fan of series fiction, there is something to be said for an approach that doesn't string the reader along for years waiting for the big pay-off. I loved this "miniseries," and look forward to whatever she decides to write next!

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