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Even though Samhain is not pronounced anything like how it looks, somehow young Samhain Corvus LaCroix has picked up the nickname Sam, along with a mediocre career path based on dropping out of college and working at a burger joint. He shares a one-bedroom apartment with his buddies Ramon and Frank (who sleep on the couch and the living room floor, respectively), and has zero love-life in spite of working with a hot number named Brooke and living next door to a Betty White type who always encourages him to walk on the wild side. Nevertheless, Sam only begins to suss out what the wild side is when an irate customer picks him up by his neck and demands to know where he gets off being an unregistered necromancer. This is news to Sam, who had no clue that magic even existed. But the tough customer ought to know; he is none other than Douglas Montgomery, the necromancer who presides over Seattle’s Council of magic-users and magical beings.
Douglas has Sam roughed up by a supernatural goon, threatens to exterminate him if he doesn’t become a good little apprentice, and gives him one week to think about it. Then, just to drive the point home, he has Brooke’s head delivered to Sam’s apartment in a brown-paper-wrapped box. Murdering one of his best friends would be a strong enough message, indeed. But Douglas goes even further, by bringing Brooke’s severed head back to life. You know, like a necromancer would do.
Understandably, Sam and his friends are freaked out. But taking care of a talking, bodiless head is now the least of their troubles. They feel the urgency of finding out how Sam managed to reach college age without realizing that he can see dead people and do magic. Their sleuthing has a built-in time limit, and there aren’t many people Sam can turn to for information. Sure, his mother has secrets. His estranged father’s side of the family may hold even more. But just as he finds another necromancer to reach out to—one who is not under Douglas’s control—the fiend bumps up the time-table even more. Now Sam finds himself trapped in the middle of a gruesome experiment involving a cute werewolf girl, zombies, waffle-craving grim reaper in saddle shoes, and dark incantations powered by blood and death. As Sam’s friends and family race to the rescue, time is quickly running out for both him and his lupine cellmate.
This book is a fabulous beginning to a promising new series. Already this includes is a second book, titled Necromancing the Stone, as well as a stand-alone short story called Necromancer. If they live up to the promise of this debut, they are most certainly worth seeing. I tore through this book in no time, laughing heartily at its wry humor, appreciating the subtly adult romantic subplot, and steering my way through the intense action sequences with a white-knuckled grip. I see a lot of promise in this modern-day fantasy world, and in an up-and-coming author whose other work includes a unicorn novel titled Heads Will Roll.