Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride is the sequel to Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, a young adult paranormal mystery featuring Sam the Necromancer (available September 18, 2012).
With the title of this book alone, I had a feeling that the voice of the author would be hilarious. After all, it takes talent to make necromancing funny. In Lish McBride’s sequel to Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, we are reintroduced to Samhain “Sam” LaCroix. He has recently killed his necromancing mentor, Douglas, and inherited all the power, wealth, and responsibility that goes with taking Douglas’s place in the supernatural food chain. On top of all that, Sam is dealing with the trials of being a young adult, a female werewolf’s boyfriend, and having one ghostly friend and another were-bear (say that five times fast) best friend.
Part of what makes this book work is the balance McBride strikes between horror, humor, and young adult themes. The ideal combination in any good paranormal universe is having the elements of fantasy while keeping the issues grounded in essential human emotions. Being a fry cook-cum-college dropout is hard, and everyone wishes that someone could wave a magic wand to get them instant wealth and the girl. For Sam, that gift came at a price and he’s still very uneasy with the transition his life is going through.
“If you remember, you insisted on bringing your own stuff, including that moth-eaten thing you call a mattress. You wouldn’t even put your music in the library, or your books. Ridiculous.”
I hadn’t wanted to mix my stuff with Douglas’s. I know it sounds weird, but I felt like, once that happened, this new house situation was permanent, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for that.
I had not read the first book in the series before diving into this one. The first few chapters of the book (don’t worry, they’re short) were mainly recapping and reintroducing the main characters and some of the plot from the first book. This might be tedious for those who read the first in the series but helpful for those like me who had not. Fear not though, the action quickly resumes when someone close to Sam dies. Unfortunately, Sam is still getting used to his new necromancing powers—you’d think with those skills, finding someone’s murderer would be simple! Unfortunately for Sam, but luckily for the reader, the mystery of who the killer is remains an enigma even with Sam’s special skills.
This book’s humor made it a standout for me in the genre. It’s full of one-liners fit for a Will Ferrell comedy but still believable for a teenage character.
. . . While Douglas was holding me hostage, I’d met a girl—I mean, screw dating websites and house parties; apparently all the really eligible ladies are being held in cages these days.
. . . Douglas had a framed first edition of Bowie’s Hunky Dory on display there.
I guess even pure evil likes David Bowie.
. . . I mumbled something—it might have been “hello,” or it might have been “piss off.” It’s hard to be sure of these things sometimes.
“Be nice,” she said. Which meant I’d probably told her to piss off.
There are very few funny horror novels out there now (please help me compile a list because I really couldn’t think of any!). Of course there are films like Dead Alive, Shaun of the Dead, and Fido, but few authors, it seems, are willing to step into the void. Imagine David Sedaris taking on zombies, or a young adult version of Jonathan L. Howard’s Johannes Cabal the Necromancer and you’ll find the love child that is Necromancing the Stone.
Other reviewers have said the first book is more gruesome and high adventure than Necromancing, so if that is more your shtick, I would definitely attempt that one before heading into Sam’s second adventure. I’m not that big into gore, so Necromancing worked for me. McBride manages to be descriptive in this second installment without being gratuitous, and for that I thank her.
As the perfect foil for Sam, I anticipated the sections when we slipped into the villain’s mind almost as much as being in Sam's. Her villain ***spoilers (highlight to read)*** is Douglas, which is slightly predictable. Turns out he’s not so dead and comes back as a zombie-like creature. We are introduced to him in this second book as he is making a revenge to-do list—I can appreciate a villain who makes a to-do list. He’s quickly a man of action and starts in on said list.
My one critique would be that because we are so often in the mind of the villain as he plots, some of the mystery and suspense is lost. It doesn’t stop it from being an all-around fun book though. With a splash of horror and a huge helping of humor, Necromancing the Stone is definitely going on the keeper pile. I’m looking forward to starting the first book in the series and really diving into the gruesome laughs of Sam the Necromancer.
Have you read any good funny horror recently?
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Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. She spends most of her time reading and writing about romance and watching crime shows, but you can follow her other adventures on Twitter @JennProffitt.