Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Necromancing the Slayer (The Sunnydale Project)

“Most people felt lost after high school. Sometimes I felt like I’d never really been found in the first place.”  – Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

The first book I ever reviewed for VOYA was a Buffy the Vampire Slayer book by Nancy Holder.  I have read almost all of them, and for a while they took up about two shelves of my YA collection.  And then one day came the sad news that they were being discontinued.  Since that time, I have been on my own personal slayer quest: to find Buffy readalikes.  I have throughout the years found a few, but my favorite has hands down been the book Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride.

“Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?” (from Goodreads) (Henry Holt &Co., 2010 ISBN 9780805090987)

Sam thinks he is your average, unambitious dude working dead end jobs and crushing after girls but it turns out, “dead” means something much more to him.  You see, Sam is not your average guy but is in fact a Necromancer.  He just doesn’t really know it at the beginning of our book.  So imagine his surprise when a talking head shows up in a box on his doorstep.  Not just any talking head, but someone he knows that has quite an attitude.  Turns out she kind of liked being attached to her body.  Oops.

Suddenly Sam finds out that much like Sunnydale, there is an unseen part of Seattle that involves councils, power plays, and a whole bunch of evil voodoo mojo out there.  Sam kinda prefers not knowing to be honest because now, well, one of the most powerful necromancers has Sam on his radar and he does not appreciate the competition.  Not that Sam knows he is competition.

Am I the only one who things that psychopathic killers should have imposing names like Vlad the Impaler, Genghis Kham or Vigo the Carpathian? As a name, Douglas was a letdown.
Sounds like Buffy, right?  Douglas is our powerful Necromancer.  For the record, once you figure out what Douglas means, it makes more sense.

Like Buffy, every good slacker hero needs some trusty sidekicks.  It is usually helpful if one is more than just a head in a box, but ghosts work well.  As do smart aleck friends.  And, well . . . maybe a werewolf would be nice.  He may also have to make some deals with some other magical creatures.

“You want waffles?” I tried to keep the skepticism from my voice. “No firstborn or a pot of gold?”
“I’m not a leprechaun, Sam. And what would I do with a baby?” Her eyebrow shot back up, and she crossed her arms. “I want waffles. Take it or leave it.”
I glanced at Brid, who was staring at Ashley shrewdly.
“Let’s talk numbers,” she said. “Are we talking, like, twenty waffles all at once? Or a waffle a week for six months? What?”
“Every day for two years,” Ashley said.
“That’s outrageous,” Brid sputtered.”
  – Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
You know what else we need?  A twisty potential romantic love interest.  How about, let’s say, a wereperson.  Better yet, how about a wereperson with some serious attitude and the name Brid.
What happens when Sam is thrown into a cage with Brid?
“On top of all that, you’re naked. And while I’m going to hate myself for this later, could you put on some clothes? At least just for a little while, so I can think. Then you can go right back to being naked. All the time. With my full blessing.”  – Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
As you can clearly see, Lish McBride gets the wit and snark perfectly right.  Like the Whedon universe, McBride’s characters come face to face with unknown terrors and dangers and give them a sarcastic kick in the pants.  In addition to the tone, McBride also builds for Sam that Whedon version of “family” with some fun, colorful sidekicks that include both the paranormal and completely average every man.  And like in Buffy, the magical underworld is both organized and constantly vying for powerplays.  Sam’s troubles begin with Douglas not because he is a necromancer, but because he is a necromancer in Douglas’s territory.  Oops again.  Guess Sam’s parents were hoping it skipped a generation.
And like Whedon, the talented McBride gets in some fun pop culture quips.  In fact, every chapter title is in fact a reference to song lyrics.  Part of the fun of starting each chapter is remembering the songs that the chapter titles come from.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is a laugh out loud fun read, perfect for Buffy fans.  And thankfully, there is going to be a sequel.  Necromancing the Stone comes out in September from Henry Holt & Co. (ISBN 9780805090994).  It looks like this time we’ll be doing movie titles and I can’t wait.
“Begin at the beginning,” I said, “and go on till you come to the end. Then stop.” 
What are your favorite Buffy readalikes? Tell us in the comments.
Slayer Scavenger Hunt
Did you notice some words written in red in this post? If not, go back and take a look. You’ll want to, I can reassure you. Why? Because we are having a Buffy themed scavenger hunt! How fun is that? To find out how to participate, read the details below. And I know you’ll want to participate because we are working on getting some GREAT prizes lined up for the winners!
  • Each week on our Slayer Saturday posts look for the words highlighted. There will be 3 sets of words each weekend, so make sure to visit all three blogs (Bookish Comforts, Patricia’s Particularity and Teen Librarian Toolbox).
  • Write down the words each week (Sept. 8 – Oct. 20), putting them in an order that makes sense. All together these words create a quote from Buffy.
  • During the last week a form will be made available on all three blogs where you can turn in the quote that you have pieced together.
  • On the last weekend of The Sunnydale Project, Oct. 27, the quote will be revealed! We will then draw a winner from those who have correctly completed the quote.
We really hope you have fun with this! We’re still finalizing the prize, but it’ll be worth participating for! An announcement will be made when all details have been finalized.