This is Stephen Blackmoore's second novel and it's unrelated to his first, City of the Lost
at least in terms of sequels or series. There are a few tenuous
connections--such as the mysterious bar with multiple hard-to-find
entrances, etc--but it's really a stand-alone novel. So if you've
never read Stephen Blackmoore, feel free to pick this one up and start
The basic premise is that Eric Carter is a necromancer, someone who can
see, talk to, and manipulate the dead. It's a power he was born with
and after a sorcerer killed his parents, he fled Los Angeles and used
his powers to make a living . . . so to speak . . . abandoning his
sister in the process. Now, fifteen years later, he learns that someone
has brutally murdered his sister, so he returns to L.A. to find her
killer . . . and perhaps to take responsibility for the numerous
mistakes he's made in his life, including running away in the first
place. But of course, he stumbles into something much larger than his
sister's death, and he may just be forced to deal with the
responsibility of his own powers in the process.
I thought this was a good book. I'll repeat that I'm not a huge fan of
urban fantasy, so take that into account with this review. Stephen
Blackmoore does some really cool stuff in this book. His idea of what
necromancy is, and the ways in which his character uses those powers,
has been taken to a whole new level here. It's dark and gritty and
definitely not nice, which is the way necromancy should be. But his
main character--while rough and tough and deadly--also has a "good"
side. You can see his humanity and you can see his struggle dealing
with his own power. He's been traumatized and burned by his power
often, but he's still fighting to remain "normal" in some sense. So the
world set-up and the characters in the book are great.
However, I thought the plotline wasn't as strong as it needed to be.
It didn't quite hang together as strongly as it could have and there
were a few "loose ends" that I didn't quite believe. In essence, Eric
Carter came across as smarter than he behaved at certain points. I
thought some of the clues about what was really going on were rather
obvious and Eric should have picked up on them much, much earlier. If
he had, it would have forced the plotline to become more complicated
(unless the book was going to end rather abruptly and be a novella
instead). And that's what was missing. The "complications" in the plot
felt a little forced, brought on by the inability of the main
character to see what was happening, and this made the plot feel weak
and loose to me. If more time had been spent on the plot, if it had
been developed more, the book would have been much, much stronger. The
world and characters could certainly have supported it.
So, a good book, but not as strong as Stephen's first book. Certainly
entertaining, but I thought it could have supported a much stronger,
more complicated plot.
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