Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

McBride, Lish. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2010. Print.
[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/9880508]

ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011)
William C. Morris YA Debut Finalist (2011)
     "You even smell a little like him," he said, his voice going throaty.
     Disturbing. Was it good to smell like someone else? I reached out cautiously and put my hands over his, leveraging for a bit of breathing room. "Like who?" I choked out. Buff Guy had a fierce grip [on my neck].
     "Like the grave," he said, not really answering my question. "Like cold death."
     "Thanks," I said. Creepy, creepy, creepy. I didn't add that he smelled like meat. Not that I could. Apparently, choking helped me keep my mouth shut and mind my manners. I wished he'd put me back down. Or that Ramon and Frank would rush him from behind. Then he'd have the opportunity to strangle all of us. I needed to get bigger friends.
     "And blood," he said. "You smell like blood."
Sam has pissed off the wrong guy. A guy who unnerves Sam for reasons he can't explain. A guy who radiates evil and power in equal measures. A guy who employs a very large, slightly unhinged henchman. But Sam is not going to go down without a fight, and he'll be damned if he lets this guy take his family and friends out with him. Unfortunately, it's starting to look like Sam might be damned already.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is a hilarious book, but it's still horror. When I was thinking about this review, I knew I wanted to include a quote that showed both at once. I found this one by opening the book to a random spot near the beginning. That's how much the humor and terror go hand in hand throughout the novel. The hilarity keeps the book from getting too too scary, but the story still never loses it's dark and serious edge. It's awesome.

For me, though, the funny stuff won. I laughed out loud (on a quiet commuter train, no less) while reading this book. Sam's a smart and introspective college drop-out, Brooke's a manipulative smartypants (and I mean that in the most flattering way possible) in a cheerleader's body, Ramon's still in college and living on Sam's couch, and Frank's the new kid that they're all trying to break and/or befriend. What they have in common is their cynicism, irreverence, and fast food employer. They are masters of biting and witty one-liners, exactly my kind of humor. Ramon, Frank and Brooke do their best to make sure that Sam stays firmly grounded in his regular life even though he's being pursued by creatures he's not sure he even believes exist.

And that's where the horror part kicks in. The evil guy, Douglas Montgomery, is a ridiculously powerful necromancer, and he thinks Sam is a necromancer too. The guy in the quote above? Sam isn't quite sure WHAT he is, but he's left huge cuts down Sam's back that could only have come from a knife. Only no one saw a knife. Within the first 50 pages, someone we already care about is dead. Without getting too spoilerly, let me just say that necromancers are not the only magical/paranormal beings to grace these pages. There are werewolves, fae, witches, vampires and more. Oh, and Douglas's house comes complete with a magical cage and basement torture chamber.

This is one that I think is more suited to older teens. Sam is out of high school and has already nixed college, and  his "normal" life problems reflect that. That's not to say that the average high schooler won't love this book. It is darkly humorous, scary, and Sam and co. exhibit the kind of sarcasm and cynicism to which many in high school aspire (myself included, at that age). And Sam is stuck in the stage of life where he is trying to find himself, something that is highly relatable for many teens and twenty-somethings. He's just got the added pressure of "to raise the dead or not to raise the dead" making everything more interesting. I loved it.

I mentioned the internal musical loop this title can inspire, but luckily the chapter titles mix it up a bit. Leah's got a series of posts going to help you place the song lyrics.

Book source: Philly Free Library

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Tere Kirkland said...

Wow, I'd never even heard of this one, but it sounds great! And now I have Tiny Dancer stuck in my head.

Thanks. ;

I'll have to check this one out.

Lawral the Librarian said...

"And now I have Tiny Dancer stuck in my head."

Welcome to my life! It wouldn't be so bad if I could remember the words to the verses...

But yes! Please check this one out. It is a good time. :)