Dylan Johnson is spending a normal evening eating chips and Skyping with his best friend, Scott. Somewhere between a lazy conversation about Scott’s love life and various holiday party plans, Dylan notices a costumed figure lurking behind his friend. A figure with a knife. Somehow, Dylan is able to convince Scott to run, saving him from whatever it is that’s stalking him, only to find the ghoulish figure standing next to him — in the same room!
Dylan faints, and upon waking up, he gets in his car and drives three hours, non-stop, until he reaches his grandmother’s house. Simply being in her presence banishes any darkness, and upon telling her his story, his grandmother tells him her own. When Dylan was a child — barely more than a toddler — she realized that her grandson was a powerful necromancer. Magic was hard enough to teach to an adult, let alone a two-year old, and so she sealed his powers away and decided to let him life a normal life.
And so begins a new phase in Dylan’s life: apprenticeship. With his grandmother teaching him the rules of magic, he begins learning the spells and skills he needs to become a necromancer. A few months into December, the government Supernatural Crimes Division comes knocking on the door. They’re in the middle of a challenging case and have hopes that a necromancer might be able to help them catch their newest serial killer. After all, Dylan, as a born necromancer, is the most powerful witch in the world.
Aurelius Chatzis is a creature born of death and dark magic, a vampire some three thousand years old. In all his time, he’s never met anyone like Dylan, never met someone who smells as good, makes him laugh as much, or feel as much. It takes less than three days for the 3,000 year old vampire to realize he’s losing his heart to Dylan.
But there’s still a murderer on the loose, a cult to investigate, and a dark ritual to stop.
I am not a fan of this book. It feels weightless, hollow, and empty. I felt nothing from the characters, no spark of life, no hint of personality, which made it impossible for me to feel anything for the characters. Neither Dylan nor Aurelias have any personality. Dylan’s grandmother is given the ‘cantankerous granny’ trope in lieu of a personality and Moira — Aurelias’ partner — is relegated to a squeeing female who keeps cackling that Aurelias and Dylan are going to have sex because she can smell it, being a Siren and all.
The black knife-wielding figure at the beginning who first stalked and threatened to kill or harm Dylan’s best friend, and then managed to appear in Dylan’s room, is never mentioned again. Even Dylan seems to have forgotten him in the car trip to visit his grandmother, because he arrives with a chuckle and a laugh. If the spirit is meant to serve as a catalyst to awaken Dylan’s power… it fails, because Dylan shows no power. If it’s meant to impress us with the dark world Dylan is soon to enter, it fails at that, too. It’s a throw-away scene with a throw-away character, serving no purpose that I can see. It also shows us how the rest of the book is going to be, with nothing with weight or consequences or… or anything. If the first scene of a book, the scene meant to both introduce us to the world and the themes of the book, is of so little consequence … why is it there? Why bother making us read it since it does nothing for the story and nothing for the character?
Dylan is supposed to be a necromancer, the most powerful person in the whole entire world — who will also be immortal, because of reasons — and yet, why is he a necromancer? He’s a witch, a powerful witch, and yet a necromancer. Is necromancy, then, a sub-set of witchery? How does one relate to the other? There are no answers to these questions or all the others regarding the confusing magic system, and it doesn’t feel that the author has put much thought into the matter. And this lack of attention to detail shows in so many other little ways. We’re told it’s Halloween in the beginning of the book, so that makes it October. Two months later should have us in December, but you’d never know it from reading the book. There’s no mention of December holidays, no mention of colder weather or rain or snow or cloudy skies. It’s a small thing, but it shows a lack of care in the world building and story telling. Why make it a point to have the story start at Halloween if it has nothing to do with the story? Why mention — specifically — that two months have passed if you don’t bother to pay attention to or deal with the month of December, however peripherally? It’s sloppy world-building and makes me wonder what might have been cut out or never written in.
And then there’s the love interest: Aurelias. Aurelias is a vampire. An ancient vampire some three thousand years old… but why? I understand picking such a big number because in the general consensus of paranormal fiction (all fiction, really), the older a vampire is the more powerful he is. But no mention is made of Aurelias’s power, though he does brag about his age several times. Three thousand years ago the world was a vastly different place. Christianity wasn’t a religion, North and South America weren’t common knowledge for a slave boy — which is what Aurelias was — and government agencies, the internet, cars, and so much more hadn’t yet been invented. Here is a figure who has lived through most of the history of mankind… and I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it. He comes across as an age-mate of Dylan. They both talk the same, react the same, think the same. I’m not even convinced that Aurelias is a vampire.
There’s no personality in either Dylan or Aurelias, and no chemistry between them. There’s no world-building at all, and nothing new or novel in the interpretations of sirens, vampires, or witches. The races feel very generic and the world is lifeless.
And then there’s the plot. The plot is the book’s saving grace. There is one, and while it’s not the most original, it’s executed competently. The writing is clean, the pace is brisk, and it’s an inoffensive story. If it weren’t for the lack of interesting characters, the lack of world building, and the confused and aimless magic system there could be something here.
Please remember that this review is only my opinion. Simply because I did not enjoy this book — and cannot in good conscience recommend it — doesn’t mean other people will share my opinion.