By Lish McBride
As a librarian, I judge books by their professional reviews. As a reader, I judge books by their cover (I’d be willing to bet you do too). To a certain extent, I also judge books by their titles (which may be less common). Hold Me Closer, Necromancer earned a couple of starred reviews, so it is an easy pick as a librarian, but it also hits a rare double whammy on my snap judgment reader scales. The cover is cool and creepy with its monochromatic red and black and the title is right up there on my list of best titles ever. Add to that the song lyrics and titles used as chapter titles and my expectations were pretty high.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (HMC, N) has been on my very long “to read” list for quite some time. It finally got to the top of the list because it is an easy book to recommend for this year’s Teen Read Week theme “It Came From the LIBRARY!” (We are interpreting the theme in two ways: For books, a creepy, echoey kind of statement and for programming* an amazed exclamatory kind of statement—It came from the Library?!) Since I’m highlighting these creepy titles by putting their covers on a bulletin board (near the Reference Desk) I probably ought to have read most of them.
I grabbed the HMC, N audiobook and started my favorite tradition of listening to a book in my car during my lunch break. I got about a third of the way through the book when I realized that the audio just wasn’t going to get me there fast enough. I went back and grabbed the bound book. I then spent the next several hours ignoring family and meal-times to finish it.
HMC, N is old school paranormal (as opposed to the sparkly, love-triangle paranormal) with a little realism and snark thrown in for good measure. Sam, our hero and main character, is your average skateboarding college dropout. He is pretty miserable working the counter at a Seattle fast food joint but he has a good time with his coworker friends: Ramon, his oldest and best friend; Brooke, the pretty blonde he and Ramon spend more time protecting than hitting on; and Frank, the clueless but well meaning boy next door.
When Douglas, a power-hungry necromancer, identifies Sam as a fellow necromancer with very weak powers, he magnanimously declares that if Sam is willing he will be Sam’s teacher. Douglas’s persuasions are subtle—first he sends Sam a package containing Brooke’s severed but reanimated head then he locks Sam in a cage with a half werewolf half fey princess. Sam’s reluctant training reveals that his powers are nowhere near weak. That’s when the fun truly begins.
McBride’s work lives up to the expectations set by her cover and title. HMC, N has lively and unique characters, a speedy and action packed plot, and enough thrill and humor to satisfy a broad spectrum of older teen and adult readers. Younger teens might enjoy it too, but with college-aged characters doing college-aged things (drinking and fade-to-black sex) as well as a fair amount of violence, parents may want to read it first.
*Teen Read Week Programming: “You did WHAT with that book?!” every day after school October 15 – 19 from 3:30 to 5 ish in the Teen Department. We’ll be upcycling old books into flowers, paper beads, bookmarks, poetry, and secret compartments.