Tag Archives: Lish McBride

Burnt Sugar (Short Story)

Author: Lish McBride

Firebug Story

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Ava and her friends Ezra and Lock are on a job–for the magical mafia, which, not their choice really but definitely their norm at this point. It ought to be a fairly simple task, present a sufficient show of force that the witch they’ve been sent to deal with pays up. Not too hard when you’ve got a werefox, a half-dryad, and oh, a girl who controls fire on your hands. But of course, things are never simple for these three.

I adore Lish McBride’s novel Firebug, so it was with delight that I discovered this digitally-released short story set in the same world and following the same three main characters. Chronologically within the story’s timeline, “Burnt Sugar” actually predates Firebug and gives us a good picture of an (honestly) pretty average mission for these three. Which isn’t to say the story’s average, by any means. It’s exciting and suspenseful, with a great sense of humor and some amazing friendships. Seriously, I just love these three and the relationship they share so, so much. And really, a plot that involves gingerbread houses, health-conscious witches, and a girl who can summon fire with just a thought–what’s not to love? Also, if you’re not familiar with this author/series and would like a sampling, “Burnt Sugar” actually provides sufficient information to appreciate the characters and what’s going on, while avoiding being a straight-up info dump. (Granted, if you’ve read Firebug, some of the information provided is unnecessary, but not annoyingly so.) I would definitely recommend this short story, honestly to a broad audience, although particularly to fans of quirky, funny urban fantasy.

Note: While this story is available for digital purchase, you can also read it for free on Tor.com at https://www.tor.com/2014/12/10/burnt-sugar-lish-mcbride/.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Necromancer: A Novella

Author: Lish McBridenecromancer

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Matt didn’t have many friends when he was little. Actually, Ashley might have been the only person who he really clicked with, ever. That is, until she died. . . . But recently, she’s been coming around to hang out again–as Death, or as she says it, as a Harbinger. Whatever that actually is. Not that Matt actually has a clue what she does as a Harbinger. But this evening, on a trip to a diner for waffles, he might just get to find out.

Okay, so clarifications first. Necromancer isn’t actually a novella; it’s a short story “Death and Waffles” along with previews of two of McBride’s other books. The short story is a tie-in to Lish McBride’s amazing story, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. I really enjoyed the short story. You see a good bit of Ashley in the other Necromancer books, but this story shows a bit more personal side of her. It’s nice to see more than the Harbinger in the school-girl uniform who demands payment in waffles . . . well, okay, some things never change. Point is, I love McBride’s writing and her characters. They’re fun to read, and they’re memorable long after you’ve finished reading. Plus, Necromancer is a great chance to give her writing a try at minimal risk–you can pick it up for free on Nook or Kindle (probably elsewhere too). Definitely recommended.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Firebug

firebugAuthor: Lish McBride

My rating: 5 of 5

I’m really not at all sure how Ava thought she was going to have a normal boyfriend. I mean, come on–she’s a magical fire-maker who was blackmailed into a blood contract with the local vampire mafia boss Venus to be her pet arsonist/assassin. How normal can life get? But things go from bad to impossible when Ava’s boyfriend takes her on a date to the classiest restaurant in the city . . . which just happens to be Venus’s headquarters. There they get VIP treatment and a thoroughly embarrassing welcome from Ava’s two best friends and teammates–Lock the half-dryad and Ezra the fox–not exactly what Ryan was expecting, precisely what Ava was dreading. And with the worst possible timing in the world, Ava’s team gets pulled to Venus’s personal lair, where they are told in no uncertain terms to assassinate an old family friend. So NOT what Ava was hoping for on a date!

I have admired Lish McBride’s writing ever since I first discovered Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, but I think Firebug is her best book so far–it’s certainly my favorite. Actually, this book reminds me of some of Robin McKinley’s more recent books–which is huge praise. All of the elements of plot and backstory tie together into this complex but seamless entity that just exists on its own . . . that’s how I feel when I read it. It all fits so perfectly, and the story moves effortlessly yet intensely toward an unexpected yet appropriate conclusion. I think the characters bring a lot to this story–in a sense, they make the story, really. Ava herself, and her relationship with her guardian Cade, are fascinating in their own right. Lock has this great, conflicted big brother/almost lover feeling to him, plus a complex, interesting personality that goes way beyond just his relationship with Ava. And of course, Ezra is a total wild-card character, unpredictable and frankly delightful in a perverted sort of way. (I should note that this is kind of grown up in that regard–probably 15+ at least.) Honestly, even Venus herself is an intriguing character in a dark sort of way. Basically, Firebug comes with high recommendations; it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read in recent months.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review

Necromancing the Stone

necromancing the stoneAuthor: Lish McBride

Necromancer, vol. 2

My rating: 5 of 5

Considering he’s gone from burger flipper to necromancer in one fell swoop, Sam LaCroix is doing a pretty good job with all the Council duties, lawn-gnome rebellions, were-bear best friend, fey hound/werewolf girlfriend, newly-inherited from his worst enemy house and money, etc. It’s kind of a lot to handle, but he’s dealing–with the support of his friends and the somewhat grudging aid of his house pukis, James. Who used to work for his worst enemy, Douglas Montgomery, until Sam killed Douglas–quite justifiably. All seems challenging but pretty much manageable until the Blackthorn pack’s leader turns up dead . . . and there’s this niggling feeling that maybe Douglas isn’t as dead as everyone thinks.

Necromancing the Stone is a great follow up to McBride’s first book, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. It picks up the story pretty much where the first volume left off, and carries through solidly with a delightful blend of dramatic tension and sardonic humor. Sam and the people close to him have some pretty incredible personalities, and the writing brings them out wonderfully without being overdone. The balance of action, mystery, romance, friendship, and hilarity is nicely done, although some might find it tending a bit too much toward the weirdly silly. But you’re dealing with some pretty intense and deep stuff here, so the tension has to go somewhere–or at least that’s what Sam would say. It kind of makes me frustrated that McBride makes Douglas someone I can’t entirely hate; but she does it so skillfully, making him a complex human being in spite of his general evilness, that I still enjoyed the story. I think my favorite part is her treatment of James: he is an extremely intelligent, sophisticated, and talented individual, but he’s going through all the emotional uproar of the teenage years while at the same time dealing with complicated divided loyalties. He’s kind of incomprehensible sometimes, but I like him all the more for that. Necromancing the Stone comes with high recommendations for anyone upper teens and above who enjoys meaningful but slightly absurd urban fantasy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

hold me closer necromancerAuthor: Lish McBride

My rating: 5 of 5

Never one to miss a chance to excel, Sam spends his days flipping burgers and manning the cash register with aplomb . . . or maybe something rather more like apathy, to be honest. That is, until his chance encounter with Douglas, a super-scary dude who accuses Sam of being a necromancer and demands that Sam join him as his apprentice. Weird much? Sam is for sure weirded out (read incredibly freaked out), especially when his friend Brooke’s severed head appears in a package on his doorstep–and starts talking to him. Worse, he’s given a week to join Douglas or the same undeadness is promised to start spreading to others he loves.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer has got to be one of the scariest, weirdest, most amazing books I’ve read in quite a while. Lish McBride takes a theme that’s so classic it’s exhausted (normal kid not only has powers he never imagined, he’s the prophesied redemption of a people he never knew existed, or some such) and blows the doors off of it. Actually, I think she blows the minds of her readers while she’s at it. I love the character portrayals–they’re rich and sarcastic and funny. And the plot, while being stereotypical at its core, is freakishly scary, exciting, and done in a brilliantly unique fashion. I’m definitely looking forward to a sequel (there’d better be one)! I’d highly recommend Hold Me Closer, Necromancer to anyone who likes odd, scary, sarcastically funny, and impossibly fantastic young-adult stories–just beware of sex and language content.

3 Comments

Filed under Book Review