Twice Dead by Caitlin Seal
Published by Charlesbridge Teen on September 18, 2018
Series: The Necromancer's Song #1
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult
Length: 336 pages Source: NetGalley
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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.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from NetGalley and Charlesbridge Teen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I was so, so excited when I got this book on Netgalley because I am ALWAYS down for a good necromancer story. When I read Reign of the Fallen earlier this year, it was a beautiful relief to read such a good necromancer story! I wanted more! I needed more! Twice Dead was… not quite what I was looking for.
As a whole, it’s not bad, per se. There are a lot of bits in this story that really, really bother me.
When we meet Naya, she’s on the top deck of her father’s merchant vessel and has been charged with a mission. A strange city with a mission? How exciting! It felt like the beginning of The Tethered Mage, which I liked a lot. Unfortunately, her mission goes south within five pages, when she is murdered then brought back to life as a wraith. I’m still trying to figure out precisely why this was necessary to the story, other than that the author wanted a story about a wraith.
That’s the theme for a lot of this story – things happen, and they don’t feel connected or interesting. They feel like they’re there because the author decided that they should be in any decent book. The romance is awkward, the established mentor relationship is only convenient when Naya needs something… and of course, Naya isn’t just a wraith. She’s a Brand New Kind of Wraith that is More Powerful than All the Other Wraiths.
Naya just wins too often.
Books like The Name of the Wind and The Lies of Locke Lamora stress me out because the main character constantly makes poor decisions that lead to a lot of tears, and they lose all the time. Twice Dead is the exact opposite – no matter what decision Naya makes, it works out for her. You get to places in the story where you feel like: “Finally! This is gonna get good!”… then the situation immediately resolves itself and Naya never has to deal with any consequences.
Even at the very end, the author makes it clear that Naya is going to go on and do something Impossible that Only She Can Do.
It’s just… boring. Naya wasn’t likable enough to cheer her on, and the world wasn’t developed enough that I found it believable. There are ways in which this book could have been really good – you can see the foundation is there and you’re waiting eagerly for it to rise to its potential. It didn’t. It was close, but it felt like the author kept bouncing between wanting to write a political fantasy and a romance.
I lost interest. I finished the book, but it was a chore.