Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Book: Twice Dead (The Necromancer’s Song 1) by Caitlin Seal
Release Date: September 18th 2018
Tags: Fantasy / Young Adult / Necromancy / Undead / Wraith / War / Politics / Spy
Trigger Warnings: Suggested execution / Murder
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.
Twice Dead grabbed my attention by that dark cover, the title and the fact that it has necromancy in it. Necromancy is something that very much interests me. Unfortunately this didn’t book quite managed to sell me over.
The book focuses on Naya who is murdered when she is on her way to a meeting in a foreign city. Only to then wake up as the one thing she has always hated. An Undead. A Wraith. As this abomination she tries to find a way to still be useful to her country (who abhor the death). But do they still deserve her loyalty?
Doesn’t that sound delicious? The inner struggle on herself. What is she really? What does a wraith make her now? And then the struggle on where she finds in and all that. Yeah, that was barely in this book. It is there somewhat but so much more could and should have been done with that. It would have in the process deepened out the world building as well. The world building as it stands now is there but it is quite honestly a bit shaky. We get the bare bones on necromancy and the world. A lot of what we see is focused on 3-4 people Naya meets. But that doesn’t make a city or a country come alive. It doesn’t help to show the underlying problems that there might be that would have done the plot a world of good.
And I think deepening is the thing that can be carried towards every other aspect of this book. We are absent or get a summarization of the rising of the dead. Bits and pieces. It is hard to understand Naya’s loyalty to her father, who only took her in when her mother died, when we get so little background on them. We saw them in two scenes and maybe one summarized memory. Naya is a wraith but sometimes I feel like she just has a body like a living person and sometimes it feels like the author forgets this, like with the kiss.
Even so I think the writing in itself is good. The ideas are there but the execution just lacks a lot.
Naya isn’t unlikeable but I did find her frustrating at moments. The only character I truly liked was Corten, another wraith. He was just a very nice, gentle soul who gets dragged into something just because he cares about Naya, cares about his own people. I could root for a character like that.