Monday, February 4, 2013

Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride

When I read Hold MeCloser, Necromancer two years ago, I started making sure I placed it in highly visible places at work, making sure that everyone who would be interested in it got a chance to see it. Lish McBride's debut novel was a great combination of dark themes, silly humor, music puns, and a complex look at the nature of evil through the eyes of a necromancer who hates killing anything. So when I saw Necromancing the Stone laying around the library, picking it up was kind of a no-brainer.

Necromancing the Stone picks up a few months after where Hold Me Closer, Necromancer left off, and takes everything above and turns it up an additional notch. The book sees newly empowered Sam taking Douglas's necromancer spot on the local Council, trying to work out not only the strength and ethics of his own necromantic powers, but also the proper care and feeding of the staff of Douglas's house and whether or not he actually has a shot with Brid, the heiress to the local werewolf pack who's clearly madly in love with him. Meanwhile, Douglas, having escaped death through arcane necromantic means but not quite alive himself, is working out a second plan to kill Sam and reclaim his power and—perhaps more importantly—his house and its cotierie.

There's a lot of twists and turns after the early setup—and it's definitely better that I don't just sit around and tell you what they are—but the book felt like it was less about Sam and more about family in general, both real and adoptive, and it's very satisfying how all the pieces fit together. Douglas's non-dead arc, in particular, is oddly satisfying; it's super-important to the plot, adds a significant amount of humanity to Douglas (though using questionable fridging tactics), and makes the ending a lot more powerful than another fighting showdown could have been.

Sam is also one of my favorite male protagonists in recent YA fiction: he's likable and funny without descending into the class clown archetype (which I generally like but seems to be far too common) and doesn't look alien and unfamiliar to me (too often, male characters seem to me like some gross, exaggerated stereotype of what boys are supposed to be like and not what boys are actually like, which worries me). Getting the balance right is very difficult, and it's always nice to find a male lead who isn't an emotion-suppressing stoic robot.

I'm sure McBride has at least a third novel in store for us, and though I'm not sure where it's going to lead, clearly it needs a lot more Brid.

1 comment :

tanita davis said...

In the middle of the Cybils - when you haven't got time to savor books, much less reread them - I came across Necromancing... dropped everything, went to the library, got Hold Me Closer, read THAT, then REREAD Necromancing and whined a lot that there was no sequel already prepped and on my desk.

There had BETTER be more Brid. That's all I'm saying.