A fast-paced fantasy mystery set in a mostly well-realized world stuffed with magical eccentricities.
Henderson’s debut novel is somehow lighthearted despite the doom and gloom inherent in its premise: A necromancer from a family of magical undertakers has just three days to prove he’s been framed for terrible crimes or he’ll lose his body and be exiled to the Other Realm—again. Phinaeus “Finn” Gramaraye was first framed for an assault using dark magic when he was 15. Now, 25 years later, on his first day back in his own body, somebody’s trying to frame him for murder. He’s accompanied in his search for truth by a motley crew that includes a brother who thinks he’s a werewolf, an ex-magical cop with a habit of going Viking-style berserk, and two women from his past. The quick turns of the mystery plot make this a speedy and enjoyable read, and Finn’s world is a lively one, packed with all manner of weird and wonderful ghosts and goblins. But the idea that our hero is essentially a 15-year-old trapped in a 40-year-old body isn’t fully realized. Finn’s pop-culture references are amusingly dated, but his relationships with his neighbor Dawn and high school crush, Heather, seem to pick up right where they left off, without much indication that these women have matured any more than he has. And the prospect that someone from Finn’s own family might be involved in setting him up reads more as a frustrating complication than a deep betrayal.
Genre fans looking for a fix will enjoy the gleefully ghoulish setting and engaging, suspenseful plot. But readers who crave characters with rich, fully inhabited emotional lives should look elsewhere.