Title: Necromancing the Stone
Author: Lish McBride
Series: Necromancer #2
Sam is—well, not settling, more like resigned—to his new role as Council member, keeper of Douglas’s house, and necromancer. Basically, surviving Douglas means taking his place. Which Sam is not overly keen about. But he’s going to give it his best shot, even if his life has gotten exceptionally weird. Then someone dies, and he realizes that his hard times are only just beginning . . .
This takes place six weeks after Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Sam hasn’t really settled into his powers yet, but he’s mostly healed up from the beating he took in the previous book. He’s still working out the aftermath, though. Having all of Douglas’s things around him all the time doesn’t exactly help: he now lives in the house where he was once held prisoner. And he inherited James, a shapeshifting pukis who takes care of the house, as well as the army of gnomes, statues, and hedges Douglas had in his yard. That would be hard enough even without the guilt he feels over his best friend Ramon having turned into a were-bear during his rescue, or Brooke being outright murdered (she now hangs around as a spiritual mentor, though). Or struggling with the fact that he killed Douglas himself.
There are still plenty of hijinks, but this book is more internally focused as Sam works out all of the above, and what it is for him to grow up. What kind of a man is he going to become? What kind of a necromancer? And by the end he’s still only a bit farther on that path, but he’s laid a few things to rest (one, literally).
I really liked the focus on James, too. The shapeshifter is, as Sam puts it, passive-aggressive when he isn’t aggressive-aggressive, but Sam continues to try to build bridges and make this more of a friendship and less of a servant relationship. At the end, it’s James who takes center stage, and his fate is the one hanging in the balance most of all.
I felt like the villain was less strong this time around. In the first book, Douglas was both an immediate and impending threat. In this book, the villain spends more time remembering, dreaming, planning, which gives good insight into his backstory and character, but less of a sense of immediate threat, or even future threat. And the pieces for the end are put in play fairly early, so the reader can make an educated guess about where it’s all going not very far in (unlike the first book, where Brooke demonstrates rather graphically that you have no idea what’s going to happen next).
But even with that, I really liked the book. I like how Sam’s main character trait is compassion, and how he brings people together into friendships and families. I like how he turns around the stereotypes Douglas tends to embody about necromancers, and how even if he can be something of a whiner, he steps up to what he knows has to be done.
This appears to be the last book (for now) in the series, but I hope there will be many more to come. I’d love to see Sam exercise more of his potential, how Brid works things out with the pack, how various friends old and new change and grow. I rate this book Recommended.