Title: Twice Dead (The Necromancer’s Song #1)
Author: Caitlin Seal
Released: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen
Format: Kindle eBook
Goodreads Rating: 3.22 (of 82 ratings)
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Naya, the daughter of a sea merchant captain, nervously undertakes her first solo trading mission in the necromancer-friendly country bordering her homeland of Talmir. Unfortunately, she never even makes it to the meeting. She’s struck down in the streets of Ceramor. Murdered.
But death is not the end for Naya. She awakens to realize she’s become an abomination–a wraith, a ghostly creature bound by runes to the bones of her former corpse. She’s been resurrected in order to become a spy for her country. Reluctantly, she assumes the face and persona of a servant girl named Blue.
She never intended to become embroiled in political plots, kidnapping, and murder. Or to fall in love with the young man and former necromancer she is destined to betray.
Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Charlesbridge and NetGalley. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book.
What a cover! What a summary! The moment I saw Seal’s novel floating around NetGalley, I jumped at the chance for an ARC copy. I’m a fanatic for books with magic and fantastic new worlds, and on this Twice Dead did not disappoint.
As the summary states, Naya is murdered and becomes a wraith. Since the reader knows this going into the book, not a lot of time is spent on exploring not-undead Naya. Very quickly she enters the world of necromancy and wraiths and “aether,” the energy-like substance that wraiths live on. Seal is clear in her explanations on the workings of necromancy and does a good job of showing the way magic works in this society, instead of always telling the reader with dragging paragraphs. I was satisfied with her unique construction of Ceramor and the Powers, the necromancy-hating Talmir and the deep history to the last war. My only issue was how many new names/cities were introduced — I wouldn’t have minded a glossary, because I did confuse terms sometimes.
From the beginning Naya is wrapped up in a political plot that is slowly revealed to be full of traitors and liars. I enjoyed the story but for one thing: at times I didn’t know where the story was headed. About fifty percent into the book, I actually thought everything was concluded, and was entirely confused about why there was more to the book. I had no problem continuing on, because I liked Naya’s character, but the plot could drag sometimes. Otherwise, the entire political plot is really well crafted and had me scratching my head trying to see what could be coming up next.
Naya is a fun to read along with. I wouldn’t classify her as one of my favourity badass heroines, but she still kicks butt. I will say I had no interest in the (very minor) identity struggle she had near the end of the book, though. Just because it’s focused on “who am I, the Naya who was alive or the Naya who is undead???” But as a reader I never knew her as alive so… The struggle lacked real power to me. But undead Naya really knows how to play the game! Naya kept things interesting throughout the book, moving pieces together and honestly saving the entire city. Because what can’t girls do.
However, I’m said to say a biiiig down moment for me in the book was the romance. I was nooooot vibing, I’m sorry to say. For me, it was like two platonic friends were kissing from time to time and I was supposed to be cheering and feeling feels? Which is a bummer because I can tell the romance plays a key role in book two. The love interest read like a two dimensional character to me, offering no real interesting qualities or additions to the book.
The book wraps up really well, with a clear set-up for book two. No deadly cliffhangers if you’re not into those!
Three and a half crowns for this read, and I would recommend for any fantasy/magic fans. This book loses rating points because the romance fell flat and the love interest even as a character was not interesting. Also, the plot had slower moments that made it just too easy to put the book down … which I did, several times, and I usually finish books in one sitting. But the romance does not make this book, so if you’re still down for an original fantasy read (I l-o-o-o-ve how Seal develped necromancy in this world!) I highly suggest.
If a romance falls flat in a book, is the rest of the plot still salvageable? Or does the entire book’s plot need to be upstanding to make it on your bookshelf? Let’s discuss!