Book review: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

McBride, Lish. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Henry Holt, 2010. 343p. $19.50. ISBN 978-0-8050-9098-7

Samhain Corvus LaCroix—Sam for short—is not your average hero. College didn’t work out, and now he’s flipping burgers while he tries to figure things out. Working at Plumpy’s isn’t all bad, since his co-workers also happen to be his best friends. One night, after an unfortunate incident involving a game of break-time potato hockey in the parking lot and a damaged car, Sam meets Douglas, a local necromancer with evil intentions and a deceptively unimpressive name. Douglas isn’t pleased to inform Sam that he is also a necromancer whose power has been mysteriously dormant. When Douglas gives Sam two options—become his apprentice or die—Sam must discover the reason his necromancing has been buried and quickly unleash his powers to defeat Douglas before the week is out.

 Filled with zombies, werewolves, witches, and talking severed heads, Lish McBride’s debut novel is action-packed, funny, and innovative. Unlike many other supernatural-themed YA novels, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer uses humour to great effect, and while a budding romance occurs in an unlikely place, friendship plays a more central role in the narrative. Highly likeable and sometimes bizarre characters balance an initially uneven narrative pace. Once the back-story is taken care of, however, McBride hits her stride, and its fast pace and deft mix of gore and wry humour make this novel hard to put down. Perfect for fans of comedic horror and the supernatural in the vein of the film Shaun of the Dead, the novel has a cliff-hanger ending that promises sequels. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is suitable for teens and young adults, but Sam’s journey from aimless, skate-boarding, fast-food employee to heroic, nascent necromancer is a classic coming-of-age story that may appeal to anyone searching for his or her place in the world.

 Highly recommended. 4Q, 4P

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