Thank Stephenie Meyer or the casting director who made Taylor Lautner a household name. Werewolves are big in teen fiction, especially if they're brooding, sexy and hot-tempered. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is no exception. At least the debut young adult novel from Lish McBride adds wizards, some lesser-known creatures and comedy to the mix.
Take Samhain Corvus LaCroix — skateboarder, vegetarian, college dropout. He's also a fry cook at the fast-food restaurant Plumpy's and has no idea he's a necromancer until he plays a game of potato hockey in the parking lot and inadvertently plants a tuber into the tail-light of a stranger's Mercedes-Benz.
Sam isn't happy to be a fry cook. He's even less happy to be kidnapped by the Mercedes owner, who is the most powerful necromancer in all of Seattle — and who forces Sam to train with him or be killed.
There's inherent humor in a teen who's leading an ordinary life suddenly discovering his world isn't what it seemed. Sam's mom is a witch, it turns out. His deadbeat dad? A necromancer. The girl with whom he finds himself caged? A "friendly but possessive nymphet" who happens to also be a werehound (half werewolf, half dog). Similar to Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief and The Red Pyramid, Necromancer exploits these comic juxtapositions, having Sam react the way any slacker would when confronted by what he learns: with sarcasm and sass.
McBride has a gift for colorful characters, such as Sam's next-door neighbor, Mrs. W, a witch. Still out on the town every night at the age of 70, she drives a cherry-red Mustang as if "she could die at any minute and needed to get five things done before that happens." Though the story line is just a twist on a tale we've read before — that of a boy who suddenly discovers he has superpowers and has to figure out how to use them — McBride's humor and ear for dialogue carry the book. There's a Mad-magazine-meets-Twilight sensibility to Necromancer that will keep readers turning pages and laughing all the way.
Hold Me Closer, Necro- mancer
By Lish McBride
Henry Holt, 352 pages, $16.99