I highly enjoyed Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride. It’s an urban fantasy with a lot of things going for it:
- Humor! A lot of fantasy and science fiction takes itself far too seriously, so it’s always nice to find a book that has characters who are funny and try to enjoy life, despite their sometimes dire circumstances.
- Set in Seattle! What can I say, Seattle is great.
- Excellent YA-friendly sex! I normally hate sex in books, not because I dislike sex but because it’s often gratuitous, exaggerated, and its import blown way out of proportion. As a teen, I would have benefitted a lot from more books like Hold Me Closer, because in it sex isn’t some weird thing to be feared/worshipped; it’s just part of life, albeit not a part to take lightly, and the privacy of the main character is preserved since the actual act takes place during one of the breaks in the book. Also it only happens once; I realize by writing this much about it, I’m the one who has gone and blown it all out of proportion. Whoops. Let’s try again: the sex is tasteful, and there isn’t very much of it. There, much better.
- More varied fantasy cast than normal! Urban fantasy these days often focuses on a small subset of fantastic creatures (vampires, werewolves, and the fey being the most common as best I can tell). Hold Me Closer certainly has all three of those, but it does a nice job of giving its world a bit of diversity with the inclusion of some decidedly non-standard fantastic folk like bigfoot and satyrs. I was a little dubious when I read the dust jacket description and it included werewolves, because I’m sick to death of werewolves and vampires (and the ones in this book are indeed pretty vanilla, for the most part), but was pleasantly surprised.
- A male main character!
I need to qualify that last one a bit. I have nothing against female main characters; in fact, the majority of the books I have been reading in the recent past feature women. However, I am growing very jaded when it comes to urban fantasy. It was very refreshing to have a main character who wasn’t a plucky female private eye just coming into strange and frightening powers. For whatever reason, recent urban fantasy is littered with female characters who are quite able and willing to deal out a lot of violence and pain, but who then revert into gibbering piles of useless mush as soon as Mr. Werewolf Right comes onto the scene.
Frankly, I’m not a big fan of violence, and it is one of the least useful forms of traditionally male privilege/power for women to lay claim to. So many of these urban fantasy female leads read to me like they were intended to be edgy feminist characters, but are in fact simply re-iterating male values with a title nine twist. “Okay, you can engage in soul-destroying personal violence all you want, but you definitely need a hunky man in your life.” Really? No thanks. I value that these characters are (mostly) autonomous individuals and willing to take what they need from life, but there’s just something slightly off about the overall message, particularly once I started consuming urban fantasy in bulk.
Sam LaCroix in Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was thus a breath of fresh air. He’s male, he’s not a private eye/detective/hardbitten type (in fact, he’s a fairly aimless college dropout and fry cook at a fast food restaurant), and he’s virtually a pacifist despite discovering his source of power stems from blood and death.
So go give Hold Me Closer, Necromancer a try. It’s a lot of fun, is very much a coming-of-age story despite the fact that the main character is pushing the upper limits of young adulthood (although it seems like those limits are climbing upward recently, anyway), and despite having a pretty standard urban fantasy setup in many ways (werewolves plus fey plus undead) still manages to excite and surprise in others.
The plot summary contains spoilers! Show it anyway.