Lukasz's Reviews > The Necromancer's House

The Necromancer's House by Christopher Buehlman
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really liked it
bookshelves: urban-fantasy, horror

If you thought that Harry Dresden had a difficult life, you should meet Andrew Blankenship. He's a brilliant wizard living in the woods of upstate New York, in a house stocked and protected with ancient magic. Most of the spells and magic were stolen from Baba Yaga in Soviet Russia. Baba Yaga described in this book isn't similar to an old lady from fairy tales. Not at all. She's the evil incarnated. And overpowered. She is capable of just about anything.

Various booby-traps sprung at her; a drill broke itself on her head, a minor Hand of Glory tried pathetically to punch her, a rubber snake became a real cobra, which she ate. A nasty bug even tried to slither up her privates, but she turned herself caustic and burned it to a crisp.

And it wasn't even a warm-up for her.

Since his traumatic experiences in Russia Andrew does his best to hide from her (and his not that lightweight in terms of magic skills).

Andrew is rather handsome and witty recovering alcoholic who's in love with his lesbian apprentice and in a sexual relationship with rusalka (a mermaid) living in a lake, nearby. His house is boobytrapped with dope magic traps and protected by his servant - a construct with the face of Salvador Dali painting but a heart of his dead border collie.

His life isn't without the complications but as long as he stays in the shadow, it's bearable. Sadly his lover has a bad habit of drowning men. One of her victims is close to Baba Yaga. Arcane magical forces are brought to hunt and destroy our hero.

The Necromancer’s House is unlike any urban fantasy novel I read. I'm not even sure if I should call it this way. It contains horror elements and reads like a literary fiction with strong prose that wants to be seen and felt. While I can't say it was always a comfortable book, it is impressive with its multiple viewpoints, unexpected reveals, well-crafted sentences and exciting twists.

The prose is certainly strong. It won't appeal to everyone but I liked it. Mostly. The book is written in present tense which is quite unusual but works well to bring immediacy and intimacy to the storytelling. It plunges the reader directly into the events. Some passages are poetic. There's even a very literary description of fellatio.

Most characters are interesting and well-developed. They have distinct voices and personalities. I really liked Radha - a cyber-witch and Anneke - Andrew's protege. Both were strong female characters.

Andrew is a complex individual and his backstory is fully explored. Frankly, I'm not that surprised he turned alcoholic. He's arrogant and vain but he's also able to experience love and loyalty.

Magic described in the book is a brutal game requiring blood sacrifice and a willingness to confront death. It's weird and dangerous. And fascinating. For example, Andrew is able to take VHS tapes with recordings of dead people and open “trap doors” in them, which allows you to have real conversations with dead people recorded on the videotapes.

Overall, it's an interesting book with strong prose and vivid imagery. Definitely worth trying but it won't appeal to everyone due to some surprising narration choices.

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Reading Progress

March 20, 2018 – Started Reading
March 20, 2018 – Shelved
March 20, 2018 – Shelved as: urban-fantasy
March 21, 2018 –
21.0% "Interesting. Urban Fantasy unlike any I read so far."
March 21, 2018 –
March 22, 2018 –
58.0% "Strange one. Literary (there's even a literary description of fellatio), terrifying at times, irritating at others. Some ideas are brilliant, but the execution is challenging at times. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. But it's impressive."
March 22, 2018 –
March 23, 2018 – Shelved as: horror
March 23, 2018 – Finished Reading

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