Pilot for a promising Young Adult Urban Fantasy series.
Crammed with original and intriguing ideas about necromancy.
Featuring a broken-but-not-quite-destroyed young heroine with huge potential.
“How To Save An Undead Life” is an entertaining start to a Young Adult Urban Fantasy series that is strong on building a dark, complex and unforgiving magical world and has a central character, Grier Woolworth, who, since she was sixteen, has been punished almost to the point of extinction in hell hole prison called Atramentous (it means black as ink- I had to look it up).
The story, which is told entirely from Grier’s point of view, begins with Grier trying to rebuild her life after having unexpectedly being released from prison.
This has the advantage of letting the world-building trickle through as Grier has to cope with different aspects of the magical and non-magical world and re-establish friendships that were interrupted and perhaps broken when she was imprisoned.
The damage done to Grier is handled with skill. We get only enough details to help us understand how close she came to losing herself in a prison designed to extinguish hope and erode personal strength, without pushing things to the point where this would no longer be a Young Adult novel.
There’s a lot of wit and humour in the book, both in terms of Grier’s banter with her friends and with the job she does – guiding Savannah ghost tours for Haint Misbehaving while dressed as a Southern Belle.
The main focus of the plot is Grier trying to understand why she was reprieved and why she is now currently being threatened and courted by powerful people in the magical world. The main focus of the book is Grier trying to rebuild her friendships and regain her strength. I liked the fact that Grier recognises early on that she is the only person who can really get her out of the mess she’s in.
The magical world is original and filled with possibilities. It’s dominated by the Society ForPost-Life Management which has a heavily enforced hierarchy places necromancers at the top and the undead that they create, including various forms of vampire, beneath them.
The plot is action-packed and hard to predict. The story is self-contained but its main purpose is to lay the foundation for the series.
I consumed “How To Save An Undead Life” in a day. It was fun, surprising, a little light on character development but full of promise.