The afterlife is mysterious enough, but when the supernatural power of necromancy is introduced and thus the ability to bring someone back from that place, it becomes the potential basis for an incredible story.
Twice Dead did not sound like it would be an epic tale of magic and the Undead, but I certainly thought that I was going to have a fun read. Naya, the daughter a sea merchant & his apprentice for the last two years, enters the world of wraiths and walking corpses when she’s mysteriously killed on a solo mission for her father. Snappy concept, right? I thought so, until I started to read the text.
Published: 18 September 2018
Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen
Category: Fantasy/Young Adult/Paranormal
Naya, the daughter of a sea merchant captain, nervously undertakes her first solo trading mission in the necromancer-friendly country bordering her homeland of Talmir. Unfortunately, she never even makes it to the meeting. She’s struck down in the streets of Ceramor. Murdered.
But death is not the end for Naya. She awakens to realize she’s become an abomination–a wraith, a ghostly creature bound by runes to the bones of her former corpse. She’s been resurrected in order to become a spy for her country. Reluctantly, she assumes the face and persona of a servant girl named Blue.
She never intended to become embroiled in political plots, kidnapping, and murder. Or to fall in love with the young man and former necromancer she is destined to betray.
Rating: DNF @ 21%
Twice Dead drops the reader in at a rather rough place and expects them to catch on quickly. Up to the point where I read, not much was explained as far as why necromancy was so feared and hated other than a very brief mention of a long ago Undead army uprising. Some cursory explanations started cropping up, basic religious reasoning, but it was very surface level stuff that didn’t seem to hold much weight. However, from where the book begins, the way people are talking and acting, it felt like the reader is supposed to have a much deeper knowledge of the inner workings of the world’s history than they did.
Another problem I had was the characterization. It was quite bland, so much so that I was unable to foster a connection with any of the characters. I didn’t care what was happening to any of them, even a quarter of the way into the book. Naya, the main character, was not only difficult to connect with, but hard to understand. Her personality was all over the place, illustrated by many instances of her exhibiting behavior that was contradictory from one moment to the next.
Naya didn’t seem able to hold onto her own feelings, often being influenced by those around her. It seems this applied to emotions as well, such as anger at her situation. Being brought back from the dead was bad enough as it was a profane act against her faith, so I would think it would also be a traumatic event, coupled with being abandoned by her father who left when she didn’t return from the mission he sent her on. However, after a split second of bitterness, she’s fine. This among other instances came across as weak character development that allowed Naya to be pushed and pulled along by everyone else rather than making her own choices or having any kind of backbone.
The magic system seemed like it could have been developed well, but it too was just dropped on the reader without much foundation. The runes that Naya saw on everything from vehicles to lamps to vests to animated corpses, they seemed to power just about anything they were written on. If there was any basis for this system, it wasn’t evident in any meetings that Naya had with the ambassador who’s teaching her to be a spy or the necromancer who brought her back.
Twice Dead has some potential and might find some fans out there than don’t mind slower reads or that don’t put much stake in characters. This book, in short, is not for me and probably best described as “meh”.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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