About The Last Necromancer
Victorian London: For five years, Charlotte (Charlie) Holloway has lived as a boy in the slums. But when one theft too many gets her arrested, her only means of escape lies with a dead man. Charlie hasn’t raised a spirit since she first discovered she could do so five years ago. That time, her father banished her. This time, she brings even more trouble upon herself.
People are now hunting Charlie all over London, but only one man succeeds in capturing her.
Lincoln Fitzroy is the mysterious head of a secret organization on the trail of a madman who needs a necromancer to control his newly “made” creatures. There was only one known necromancer in the world – Charlotte – but now there appears to be two. Lincoln captures the willful Charlie in the hopes the boy will lead him to Charlotte. But what happens when he discovers the boy is in fact the young woman he’s been searching for all along? And will she agree to work for the man who held her against her will, and for an organization she doesn’t trust?
Because Lincoln and his ministry might be just as dangerous as the madman they’re hunting.
A free copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
A good friend once told me a story about her kids and their annual beach vacation. On their very first trip to the shore, my friend exhausted herself chasing her young boys around the boardwalk, where they spent hours playing the arcade games and devouring ice cream cones and riding all the rides. The second year they went to the beach, my friend decided a more relaxing experience was in order and told the boys that the boardwalk attractions had been a carnival and that it hadn’t come back to town. They spent a quiet, restful time on a beach that was near the boardwalk but not in sight of it. My friend’s sons were none the wiser, not for that trip or all the subsequent ones. It wasn’t until the boys were teenagers that they learned the truth and realized they’d been missing out on boardwalk awesomeness for years.
That’s kind of how I feel about C.J. Archer – I’m amazed that I’ve been missing out on her books for so long. When I signed up to do The Last Necromancer blog tour, I mistakenly thought Archer was a debut author. It was only after I finished the book and did an excited Google search for the sequel that I discovered Archer has penned at least five series, as well as a handful of standalones. How did I not know these books existed?! Why am I only now learning about this awesome author?! So many wasted years!!!
The Last Necromancer, the first installment of the Ministry of Curiosities series, is the story of Charlie Holloway, a young girl who has the power to command the dead. As a result of this ability, Charlie has spent the past several years living on the street after being turned out by her religious father. By masquerading as a boy, Charlie manages to stay safe and inconspicuous….until the day she finds herself in a tough spot that forces her to reveal her abilities. As you might expect, reanimating a corpse doesn’t make the list of Top Ten Things to Do When Trying to Fly Under the Radar, so it’s not long before Charlie finds herself captured by a secret society who has big plans for her powers.
The society, known as the Ministry of Curiosities, investigates paranormal crimes and is in hot pursuit of a scientist bent on creating an army of corpses for his own nefarious purposes. In order for the scientist to create said army, he needs a necromancer, and it’s up to the Ministry to make sure that none fall into his hands. This means tracking down and securing any and all known necromancers, a task that the Ministry wants Charlie to help them with.
The relationships in The Last Necromancer are the key to this book’s success. First of all, there are the interactions between Charlie and Lincoln Fitzroy, the leader of the Ministry of Curiosities. There’s a mutual wariness between the two of them, but there’s also a growing attraction that makes for some fun scenes. I loved watching the two of them maneuver around one another, each trying to feel the other one out and discover their respective secrets. Fitzroy is cool, dangerous, and mysterious, and Charlie’s attempts to push past his defenses are alternately amusing and sexy.
Much as I liked the simmering tension between Fitzroy and Charlie, there’s another relationship in this story that I liked even more: the one between Seth and Gus, two of Fitzroy’s lackeys. It’s rare for a fictional friendship to top a fictional romance for me, but C.J. Archer is a pro at writing camaraderie and banter. I found myself anxiously awaiting scenes where Seth and Gus were present because I couldn’t wait to see what crazy things they’d say or do next. The two of them rib each other mercilessly and keep up a steady stream of jests throughout the book. Here’s one exchange between the two:
“That ain’t fair.”
“Life isn’t fair. If it were, I’d be spending my evenings deflowering virgins instead of cleaning up the sick of a gutter snipe.”
“Ha! You couldn’t deflower a flower.”
“That doesn’t make sense. And I’ll have you know, the ladies fell over themselves to get to me when I used to attend balls.”
“You had money and a good name then,” Gus said, striding for the door. “Course they’re going to throw themselves at you. Weren’t nothing to do with that ugly face of yours.”
Seth looked offended, and I couldn’t blame him. He wasn’t ugly in the least. He trailed after Gus. “I’ll have you know I had an indecent encounter with a lady three nights ago. And no, I didn’t pay her a penny. She gave herself freely to me.”
“Gave you the French disease for free, more like.” Gus’s chuckles faded as he closed the door.
Seth and Gus add wonderful humor to The Last Necromancer, but they’re not just there for comic relief. You don’t get a ton of backstory on either of the guys, but they still come across feeling like fully developed flesh-and-blood men. Their relationship feels so natural and comfortable, and it shines as one of the most outstanding aspects of this novel.
The paranormal parts of The Last Necromancer are well done, but I found myself much more invested in the people linked to the Ministry of Curiosities than in the curiosities themselves. The search for the evil scientist and the mystery of whether the Ministry can be trusted are interesting, but the personal lives of the ministry members are what really drew me into this story. I was so absorbed by watching Charlie try to crack Lincoln Fitzroy’s composure, or listening to Seth and Gus bicker back and forth, or speculating about the potential romantic history between Fitzroy and Lady Harcourt, that I couldn’t have cared less about the occult affairs of the Ministry. It could have been devoted to ornithology or flower arrangements, for all I cared – I would have loved this book regardless.
I had a lot of fun reading The Last Necromancer and can’t wait to see where Archer takes the characters in the next installment, Her Majesty’s Necromancer. If this series is any indication of how great Archer’s other books are, I need to read the rest of her work immediately.
And now, a few bonus quotes, from this book because they make me smile. J
“Think of us as the sword of the empire,” Seth said, puffing out his chest. “And Mr. Fitzroy is the pointy end.”
“You’re a tosspot.”
He grunted. “I expect a gutter dweller to come up with something more offensive than that.”
“A fucking tosspot.”
About C.J. Archer
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two with her writing. Under her other name of Carolyn Scott, she has published contemporary short stories in women’s magazines, and she also writes romantic mystery novels under this name.
She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. She has won and placed in romance writing contests including winning RWAustralia’s Emerald Award in 2008 for the manuscript that went on to be released under the title HONOR BOUND. C.J. spent her early childhood in the dramatic beauty of outback Queensland, Australia, but now lives in suburban Melbourne with her husband and two children.
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C.J. Archer is generously giving away a copy of The Last Necromancer! To enter the giveaway, which is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada, please fill out the Rafflecopter below.