Monday, April 4, 2011

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

I'll never be able to listen to that Elton John song the same way again.  (Not that I listened to it a lot before...but now that one line has completely taken over my head...and I'm hearing it in Elton John's voice, too...oh dear lord!).  After I read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer  I googled the lyrics to Tiny Dancer and they're completely inane.  Just begging to be reimagined.

As the titular pun demonstrates, this book is a little twisted.   It's very funny, in a dry, scary, pull-no-punches sort of way.  It's not afraid to go way past weird and embrace the downright bizarre,  while somehow maintaining enough of a framework of normalcy (well, normalcy within the conventions of supernatural fiction--it does feature necromancers, witches, werewolves and a harbinger of death) to keep it grounded.  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is maybe not for everyone, but I sure got a kick out of it.

The story's beat-up hero is Sam (short for Samhain), a young university dropout who's eking out a living in Seattle at a burger joint with the enticing name of Plumpy's.  Due to an unfortunately timed game of potato hockey (don't ask), Sam comes to the attention of  a creepy alpha-necromancer named Douglas who  isn't pleased to have an unknown necromancer (Sam) on his turf, even though Sam is apparently pretty low-voltage, powerwise.  Sam, understandably, thinks that Douglas is a freaky madman, until Douglas sends Sam a message he can't ignore (this is where the bizarre-o-meter goes into hyperdrive).  Now Sam and his motley pack of friends are racing to find out who Sam really is, what his powers are, and why he can't make them work.   And when Douglas kidnaps Sam and throws him in an iron cage in a science-lab dungeon with an irate kidnapped werewolf girl, the stakes get really high.

What really makes this book work is the sharp way that McBride controls the tone, a sort of mashed-up gritty supernatural comedy noir.  Sam's a great portrait of a teen drifter with a good heart, a guy who feels like a loser but ends up becoming one of the good guys as he comes into his power.  If McBride writes a sequel, I'll read it in one hot second.

Now if only I could get that song out of my head...

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