Silence is Michelle Sagara's first book in the new Queen of the Dead
urban fantasy series. As most of you know, I'm not a huge fan of urban
fantasy, but I love Michelle's other fantasy books, so I decided to give
this one a try.
The main story revolves around Emma, who lost her father a while ago,
and has recently lost her boyfriend in an accident. Grief-stricken,
she's taken to visiting the graveyard at night to relax. However, on
this night, she's not alone. Erik, a new student at her school, is
there, and he's hunting Necromancers--people who can use the power of
the dead to essentially perform magic. The only problem is that Emma is
beginning to show signs that she could be a Necromancer herself.
The book continues with Emma coming into her power, Erik constantly on
edge waiting for her to become what he fears the most, all while they
try to help a four-year-old boy escape an eternity trapped in the house
fire that killed him. And, oh yeah, the real Necromancers show up to try
to bring Emma to their side.
The book has the standard urban fantasy feel--a darker atmosphere, some
harsh realities about life and death, etc. The only paranormal touch is
the existence of the dead and how they are used and how they interact
with the world. There is no hint of other creatures, such as vampires,
werewolves, etc. Because of the ages of the characters, this also has a
significant YA feel to it. I thought Emma, Erik, and there rest of their
friends were especially well drawn out and their interactions with each
other were realistic and believable. I especially liked Michael's
character--an autistic friend who ends up being more significant than
most of Emma's other friends.
I did have some issues: There was a strong case of "we aren't going to
tell you" here, meaning that Emma is trying to figure out her new world
as it changes, Erik (and others) have answers, but they refuse to tell
her for no real or apparent reason whatsoever. I find this
annoying--just TELL ME ALREADY!--especially when one of the characters
literally says that what Emma doesn't know can kill her . . . so why not
tell her and forewarn her! I so no reason they couldn't, except it
meant that there would be no "mystery" about her power anymore and that
might cut the dramatic tension.
Another issue was that I'm still not quite certain exactly how Emma's
power works in the end. I read the scenes where she's figuring things
out a couple of times and I still don't understand what it is that she's
doing. The Necromancers power is kind of obvious, and Emma is not doing
what they're doing, but I don't see the "rules" that Emma is operating
under and how it all ties together. Granted, she's new at this and those
rules probably aren't clear to anyone, but I should still get a "feel"
for those rules, more so than I got here. I assume that what she has
become will be made clearer in future books.
So, overall, I thought it was a good entry into the urban fantasy field,
but I have to say the "just tell me already" aspects of the story were a
significant drawback, more frustrating than mysterious for me. I'll be
reading the sequels when they arrive, but I much prefer (not
surprisingly) Michelle's epic fantasy.