I love books that don’t take themselves too seriously, and from the title alone, I knew “Hold Me Closer, Necromancer” was one of those books. Add in chapter titles all based on classic rock lyrics? I’m in! Plus, after Gideon the Ninth, I was kind of itching for more necromancer-like fantasy reads. This particular NA fantasy follows Sam, plus a lot of other POV characters but mostly Sam, who is nothing special. He’s a college dropout working at a fast-food restaurant with his best friend, just kind of meandering through life without purpose or direction—we’ve all been there. Sam is an incredibly relatable character and the sarcastic 1st person narrative the author gives him really sells Sam as a character and makes you feel for him. Then, one day (as it always happens), Sam’s life is changed when he accidentally puts himself in the path of the most powerful necromancer in Seattle. Then, surprise! Sam learns the family secret that was kept from him pretty much since birth: Sam is also a necromancer. What follows is the traditional race to unlock his power and save his friends, and himself, before Douglas decides Sam is no longer worth the effort. Everything about this book sounds fun and has a cool twist on urban fantasy, and yet I never fell as hard for this story as I wanted.
The author does something with her writing that I found to be really interesting and refreshing in UF: she switches POV tenses for different characters. Basically, all of the chapters featuring Sam are in 1st person, because this is ultimately his story and journey, but when the author shows us another character’s perspective, those are all in a 3rd person POV. It sounds like it would get confusing or bring you out of the story, but it’s done so well and the transitions so seamless that I had no problem with the switch. It also helped make this book both disturbing and light hearted all at once. That should really come as no surprise, you’re dealing with necromancers so dead things are going to make an appearance, but this never read as anything overly dark or bogged down with pain, even though some really tragic things occur. Emotionally, this did not wreck me, which was good! But still, I think I wanted a few more gut punches because I am a masochist like that.
That being said, there is one trope that I personally have issues with that was present in this book, and that’s family secrets. Specifically, “we didn’t tell you about this thing because we wanted to protect you” and then que everything going wrong because of that, supposedly, well intentioned act. I think the author handled the secret well, in that Sam doesn’t just shrug off the reveal. It becomes a complication that he does have to work through. Which was nice, but some of the other characters reactions to said reveal did irk me so I never quite was able to switch my feelings from annoyance to connecting with any of the characters emotionally over the scene.
All in all, this was a really fun and refreshing take on a lot of the creatures you find in urban fantasies. I do wish there was more time spent on this paranormal community that Sam suddenly finds himself to be a member of, but I’m sure that will be in the next book, which I definitely bought after reading this! I loved Brid and her brothers as characters and can’t wait to see more of them and their pack, as well. I thought the end between Sam, his friends, and Brooke was really touching too. Plus, while this is part of a duology, this book is a complete story. So no pesky cliffhanger at the end, which I really appreciated this time around. But just because there was no cliffhanger, doesn’t mean I was left with no desire to continue on. There was enough left open that makes me really intrigued to return to the series! But because I just didn’t love-love this book as much as I wanted to, partially because of the tropes and not as much world building as I typically like, I am giving this book 4 solid stars, because I’m sure this is mainly a case of it being a problem with me, and not the story.
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