A necromancer must overcome grief and protect the kingdom of Karthia from monstrous Shades.
Brown-skinned Odessa of Grenwyr travels to the Deadlands to retrieve spirits of the recently deceased and raise them. These spirits become Dead—ordinary members of society but for the protective shrouds they wear. Any Dead glimpsed even in part by the living become predatory creatures called Shades. When a Shade kills a master necromancer, Odessa and four others—including her boyfriend, ivory-skinned Evander—enter the Deadlands to avenge him. Instead, the Shade kills Evander. The previously rollicking pace of the first-person, present-tense narration stagnates as Odessa turns to mind-numbing potions to cope with her grief, picking up steam again only many chapters later. Odessa and her fellow necromancers must discover who is behind the sudden disappearance of Dead royalty and an influx of new Shades. She is bolstered by Evander’s sister, Meredy, for whom she develops romantic feelings. Beyond the uneven pacing, other details interrupt the otherwise smooth flow of the story. For a trained necromancer, Odessa has little strategy when it comes to fighting Shades—many of her successes feel lucky or inevitable—and most of the action scenes are disappointingly brief and undetailed.
Readers who can overlook the hiccups will be rewarded by an intriguing world, a dynamic cast of characters, and a well-handled exploration of grief in a fantasy setting. (Fantasy. 13-adult)