The Necromancer’s Seduction (The Necromancer Series, Book One) by Mimi Sebastian
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: ImaJinn Books
Cover Artist: Patricia Lazarus
She has never feared the walking dead. It’s the power required to reanimate the dead that startles her, seduces her. The power that dwells inside her…and is growing.
For Professor Ruby Montagne, being a necromancer has brought her nothing but heartache, and she walked away from that part of her life long ago. However, her quiet existence in San Francisco is shattered when she stumbles upon the body of a slain witch, and the supernatural community insists she transform him into a revenant to track the killer. But his murder was just the beginning, and Ruby soon realizes that the stakes are higher than anyone can imagine—and that revenants have nasty minds of their own.
Now demonic creatures have escaped into the human world, and zombies once again walk the streets. For humanity’s sake, Ruby forms an unlikely alliance with a witch, a zombie, and Ewan March, a demon warrior who sets her senses on fire.
She’s always distrusted demons and Ewan is no exception, but circumstances push them closer together, and Ruby not only finds it harder to resist him, she isn’t sure she even wants to. But she suspects his job of patrolling the portal separating humans and demons conceals a dark and deadly past that may consume them both.
With events spiraling out of control, Ruby unravels a plot that not only threatens the human and demon realms, but puts Ruby’s very soul in jeopardy. Because when the dead walk, no one is safe. Especially Ruby.
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I’m a huge fan of the paranormal genre, yet this is the first book I have read that focuses on the magic of necromancy. Ruby is a well-known necromancer among her supernatural community. Since both her grandmother and mother were also necromancers, Ruby knows about her powers and has grown up among other supernatural entities secretly living among humans: witches, demons, vampires, and werewolves. Necromancers are a rarity in this world and differ from other paranormals because they have never been fully accepted by other supernaturals or “supes,” who also fear their unnatural powers.
When the story opens, we learn that Ruby refuses to embrace her magical gifts and keeps her distance from other “supes.” As a college professor, she lives as ordinary a life as possible. However, after the death of her grandmother, Cora, leaders of the supernatural community solicit Ruby’s help in finding out who is responsible for the recent murders of other paranormal members within their community.
Ruby not only has moral objections about the repercussions of raising the dead, she has also experienced some trauma and pain in seeing how necromancy affected her mother. The mystery behind her mother’s death isn’t revealed until later in the book, but it certainly justifies her unwillingness to put her abilities to use. Ruby has the potential to be a danger to everyone around her if her powers are abused, and we see examples throughout the story of the damage she can wield when she becomes a pawn used by others in their quest for power.
Initially, Ruby stubbornly refuses the Supernatural Coven’s request to raise Adam, a witch who has just been murdered and bring him back to life as a supernatural revenant so that he can provide information about the killer. Revenants differ from typical zombies because their souls, intelligence, and supernatural strength remain intact when they are raised from the dead. They can blend in with humans and are much more difficult to control. Only a powerful necromancer can bring them back to life. Although Ruby has had little practice in using her magic, she finally agrees to perform the blood ritual on Adam after learning her grandmother may have been targeted for assassination as well.
At first I had hard time accepting Ruby’s name. Ruby just didn’t seem like an appropriate name for a necromancer. The gemstone ruby is shiny and vibrant, but necromancers work in a realm of darkness and death. Yet, after further reflection, I realized that the name Ruby is symbolic of a necromancer’s power. Rubies are red, the color of blood, and it is Ruby’s blood that has the power to raise the dead. Sebastain does a good job of describing the actual ritual of raising the dead and the feeling of ecstasy that Ruby gets when she “plugs into” that power source.
As the plot develops in the ongoing search for a killer, a burgeoning relationship forms between Ruby and a very handsome demon named Ewen who is given orders by the Coven’s demon leader, Malthus, to protect her.
Ruby has done her best to stay away from Ewen in the past because of her intense attraction to him and her refusal to be a part of his world. And after all, he is a demon.
The entire story is told from Ruby’s point-of-view which limits readers’ knowledge and understanding of the overall situation. Yet, I was able to form an emotional connection with Ruby and could relate to her worried and frazzled state through much of the book. Her dry humor in the midst of danger kept me engaged and provided a bit of relief from the tension raised in the story.
On the other hand, there were instances later in the book, where I felt Ruby’s thoughts and actions were incongruent with the way she was earlier portrayed. In the beginning, Ruby seems to be a calm, rational, polished professional who proceeds with caution. Yet, her later thoughts and actions show a woman in emotional disarray whenever she’s in Ewen’s presence, and, as complications develop, her reactions are based more on emotion and impulse rather than logic. Even her language becomes crasser as the conflicts intensify. However, if I were forced to raise the dead, control multiple “super zombies,” search for my grandmother’s murderer, and resist the advances of a tempting demon then I’d probably react in an even worse way.
Hopefully, I’ll never find out.
Ruby’s resistance to learning about her past and her abilities now put her at a disadvantage and force her to wing it much of the time.
She is still learning about her powers and doesn’t have full knowledge of her capabilities. Her pride also jeopardizes her safety because she won’t admit that at times she doesn’t know what she’s doing and, even more importantly, she doesn’t always have complete control over her revenants. At times she puts herself and other humans in danger of being attacked.
The book’s title implies a romantic seduction, and Ewen is determined to be the one to seduce both Ruby’s mind and body. He is strong, passionate, and possessive. However, unlike other typical alpha male characters, he doesn’t force his protective nature on Ruby; instead, he gives her space to make her own decisions. At this point in the overall story, they primarily have a physical relationship without the emotional depth needed to have a long-lasting relationship. Ewen’s deception and demon honor also keep them apart when the truth about Ruby’s real identity and powers are revealed.
However, romance isn’t the only type of seduction in the book. Ruby is also conflicted over her increasing desire to use her abilities. The more she uses her magic, the more of a temptation it becomes, and the infusion of power she experiences when she performs rituals only heightens this form of seduction.
I like the dual meaning behind the title.
The supporting paranormal characters are powerful in their own right and it isn’t always clear to Ruby or readers what their motivations are and whether they are allies who can be trusted. Even though they behave in a civilized manner, it remains clear that each has a monster lurking just below the surface ready to emerge when necessary. For the first time, I actually found a zombie character likeable, but, then again, Adam is also a zombie with a conscience. He is the voice of truth and reason that Ruby needs when she questions her actions.
The story’s plot is well-executed and provides a nice blend of mystery and suspenseful action that kept me absorbed, especially in the second half of the book when truths are revealed and characters become expendable. The story left me with a comfortable reprieve until the second book is released and I look forward to seeing what’s next in this new paranormal series.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Enjoy an Excerpt
The last student dropped his blue book on my desk. Relieved, I shoved the article and books in my backpack. I needed to grab some papers before going home to get some much needed sleep, hopefully. As I exited my office, the heavy door slipped from my fingers and slammed shut, sending a resounding echo down the hall.
I’ve never liked empty buildings at night, too much empty space, too much silence.
The hallway was darker than usual. Looking up, I noticed some burned out lights. I walked faster, chased by the echo of my own footsteps in the hallway. As if playing on my fear, I swore another set of footsteps joined mine.
A scraping. A soft rubbing noise.
Dread crawled up my spine, grasping each vertebra with its talons. I rushed towards the elevator, still a good thirty feet away, driven by the unsettling sensation that something was bearing down on my back.
My breath strangled my throat at the now very real footsteps keeping pace with mine. I glanced over my shoulder into the fluttering shadows. A figure approached. Shit. I was pretty sure it wasn’t a janitor.
He snarled. Nope, definitely not a janitor.
I sprinted for the stairs, not wanting to waste precious seconds waiting for the elevator. I swung open the door to the stairs and braved a quick look at my pursuer, now close enough for me to see the sick pallor of death on his face, that mix of puke-green, yellow and gray that not even the best makeup artist can camouflage. Or imitate.
But slow and laborious not. Real zombies moved fast, spurred on by some undead hysteria, and this bastard was faster.
I jumped down the stairs, taking three or four steps at a time. The zombie took five. My heel caught on one of the steps, and I landed on my knee with a loud crunch. I scrabbled on the floor, gritting my teeth against the ice pick spearing my knee down through the marrow of my leg. I stumbled and used my hands to propel me up and forward.
The zombie was so close I could smell its foul odor, more retching than one hundred rats decomposing in a dark basement. Too close. His hand clamped onto my arm, feeling like a cold noodle. Yuk.
Using the handrail as leverage, I spun, throwing the zombie off balance but inadvertently jerking him closer to me, close enough to see his oozing red-rimmed eyes. He hadn’t been dead long. His flesh was intact. He grinned at me, revealing black teeth, then squeezed one of my fingers down to the bone. I winced.
He garbled, the sound made when gargling water in the throat, then emitted a starved rasp, the hunger of the undead. Never satisfied. Always voracious.
Adrenaline spiked my limbs. I spotted a fire extinguisher on the wall and reached out with my whole body, using my fear as a medieval stretching rack until my joints popped. My fingers tickled the fire extinguisher until I managed to wrap my hand around the metal spout on the top and wacked the zombie across its head, causing it to tumble back down the stairs. I dropped the extinguisher in disgust, noting the bits of bloody flesh stuck to the bottom. I ran out the door and down the hall to the stairs on the opposite side of the building, the zombie’s furious clomps behind me.
About the Author
Noemi Ghirghi writes as Mimi Sebastian and raised herself on books and the strange and unusual with an unhealthy dose of comics and Scooby Doo. Loving angst-filled romance thrown in the mix, she decided to blend all those elements in a steamy mix in her first Urban Fantasy series, the Necromancer Books. The first book, The Necromancer’s Seduction, debuts July 15, 2013, with ImaJinn Books.
Noemi spent two years in the Ivory Coast with the Peace Corps and loves to introduce tid-bits from her experiences in her writing. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA. A transplant from the beaches of Florida, Noemi now wanders the desert in Phoenix, AZ, and attempts to balance writing with a day career, fantastic family, and household diva: her Amazon parrot.
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