Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Me on Necromancing the Stone

Title: Necromancing the Stone
Author: Lish McBride
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt (Macmillan imprint)

With the defeat of the evil Douglas behind him, Sam LaCroix is finally getting used to his new life. He hadn't exactly planned on being a powerful necromancer with a seat on the local magical council and a capricious werewolf maybe-kinda-sort-of girlfriend, but things are going fine. Well, no, they're not. He's tired of getting beat up by everyone and their mother, for starters, and his new house seems to hate him. His best friend is now a were-bear, someone's threatening his sister, and while Sam knows he's got a lot of power at his fingertips, he's not quite sure how to use it. When everything starts to fall apart, he decides it's time to man-up and take control, but that only raises more questions. The biggest one: is Douglas really dead?

Necromancing the Stone is a well-written mix of teenage male sarcasm and spooky things that go bump in the night. Whether you see it as a funny horror story or a creepy teen humour novel, it doesn't matter. It's a welcome return to Sam the unexpected and reluctant necromancer drop-out who has issues galore dropped on him and is expected to figure them out before everything goes to hell. Or wherever dead people end up. If they're actually dead.

Sam is back as a ragged and rather unlikely hero. He's not so much a slacker anymore now that's faced death and the evil tool that Douglas was, but he's exhausted. He's being run into the ground by Brid's brothers as they teach him self-defence, he's dealing with a not-so-human butler/assistant he's inherited from Douglas, he's living in a house that's screwing with him, and he's still not quite sure how to use his necromancer powers. Things aren't any easier for Sam this time around.

His relationship with Brid is still complicated as well. It just sort of happened in the first book and it's clearly not your average relationship. It's not every day a college dropout new-to-his-powers necromancer hooks up with a half-werewolf half-fae hound heir to her protective father's pack that is filled with overprotective brothers and skeptical werewolves. I like them together, but considering their positions, it's not easy to be together.

There's also the darker side of the book, the side that's trying to kill Sam. Being a necromancer, Sam's power is in his blood. In any book where blood has to be spilled for any kind of magical or paranormal ritual, like Tessa Gratton's Blood Magic, it raises the question on whether or not the author is using it as a metaphor for cutting or self-harm. Here, I don't believe that's the case. Sam's still uneasy about his necromancer abilities, isn't a big fan of the pain it brings when he has to spill blood to raise the dead, and doesn't have anyone to teach him the proper way to do things. He's heading into his new life a little blind, or at the very least rather near-sighted. It has the ability to chance one's perspectives on death, being able to raise the dead. If they can come back, is anyone really dead? Is there really an afterlife?

Sam deals with a lot of stuff, stuff he never thought he'd have to deal with. He's not always happy about it and doesn't always know how to fix it, but he still gets back to his feet to give it the old college try, or the old Sam LaCroix try since he dropped out. I hope that there will be more books about Sam and the dark and dangerous world he lives in.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

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