Imagine a cool, refreshing mojito with the perfect blend of top shelf rum, fresh mint muddled by hand, simple syrup, and a fat wedge of lime. A friendly barkeep would plunk it down in a chunky highball glass, no fucking around with doilies or umbrellas.
I usually rate out of 5 stars, but this is 4 out of 4 because it’s a perfect mojito. You know how some action movies try and fail to be Oscar material (Libba Bray, I’m looking at you)? Hold Me Closer, Necromancer tries to be exactly what it is, and it succeeds perfectly. It’s about a college dropout named Sam who works at a fast food joint until a necromancer spots him. To everyone’s surprise, Sam is a baby necromancer, and now the baddest necromancer of all is out to kill him.
The characters: Fun! From Sam on outward, this is a bunch of people who are fun to spend time with. Sam’s buddies are sweet with a squirt of lime. Even the baddies are realistically bad.
Exposition: The story is set in Seattle, and the magic makes sense in the way that magic does. Sam discovers that the world is full of necromancers, seers, weres, and fey, and each category of person operates under a separate set of rules. They even have a functional system of self-government. We discover these things at a reasonable pace (i.e., McBride feels no compunction to share every thought she’s ever had, and I’m still looking at you, Libba Bray), and so far everything is coherent. I often find urban fantasy tiresome in this regard, but here the mint is genuine garden mint, not that gross mint syrup.
Plot: There is one! McBride smoothly mixes in enough alcohol to get you drunk, but not so much that it tastes nasty. Also, she uses high quality rum so you don’t have to worry about an ethics hangover in the morning.
Prose: High quality glassware that chimes musically when you toast. Not the kind of thing that calls attention to itself, but clearly well crafted and intended to give years of service.
Sequels: You don’t need to order three drinks to get buzzed. The story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Plot advances, and then plot resolves. What a concept. (I’m looking at you, George R.R. Martin.) As the story closes, the characters just happen to be well positioned for awesome new adventures and the bartender casually looks your way.
There is not a single thing wrong with this book. Lish McBride, please bring me another mojito ASAP. I could drink these all night.