Raise the Dead: A Love Story – Book Review

Raise the Dead: A Love Story
by Tony Fuentes, C.S. Kading

Give the characters more room to grow, and allow the audience to fall in love alongside them.

Thank you to Reedsy Discovery for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I was really excited by the prospect of this story. Recently I’ve been fascinated by stories that revolve around gods of the underworld, or grim reaper type characters. This story promised to deliver a necromancer and his latest charge, a murdered queen.

This novel had many strengths including elements that were executed well, and moments that had me sitting up a little straighter in anticipation. For the length of this novel I thought that the pacing was adequate and appropriate. The story moved from character introductions to new settings, and high energy scenes often enough to keep me engaged in the story. I think there is a lot of potential here for world building, and so many areas that can be expanded on in future novels.

There were a few things I selfishly wished the novel had done differently. I wish there had been more time spent explaining the history and origins of this supernatural kingdom. We just barely brushed the surface, and I think because these topics were discussed so briefly, I found myself getting confused when the issues were brought up again later in the novel. I really enjoyed the direction that the novel attempted to take us in, by setting up this moral dilemma of good versus evil in the art of necromancy, and the resulting wars the kingdom has endured because of it.

I wish this novel had taken more of a professorial approach, reminiscent of “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness. The most interesting aspects of this novel were the moments when we were being told about the art of necromancy, the schooling and education, as well as the targeted hate due to the misuse of these talents in the past. Along with the action sequences, those were some of the strongest moments in the novel and they were few and far between. I loved the snippets of the necromancy text and art in the back of the book, and think sprinkling those throughout the next novel would be a huge asset to this story, and would help the reader submerge themself in this world and magic system.

I also found myself wanting more when it came to the relationship between our necromancer and the murdered queen. When the title pronounces this as a love story, I’m expecting it to reach off the page and squeeze my own heart. Instead I found myself searching endlessly for sparks and chemistry. The characters didn’t feel fleshed out enough to empathize with in a romantic sense. While I could understand their compulsions when it came to their independent jobs, or what guided their actions in the novel regarding the queen’s murder, I couldn’t quite find their romantic connection. While there were hints of fleeting looks, quick reassuring caresses, and words left unspoken, what came off the page instead felt more like a newly formed friendship, and less of a romantic awakening between two characters. Friendship is a great place to allow a romance to grow from, and I’m hopeful that the rest of the series will continue to bring these characters together in a way that makes sense romantically.

I really enjoy the potential this novel has, but I think the execution in this first novel just wasn’t fully formed. I almost wish this book could become the prequel to this series, so that we as the audience could get a bit of a do over as we watch what happens next. I hope the authors continue with this story, because I do think it’s unique, and there are so many directions to take it. Give the characters more room to grow, and allow the audience to fall in love alongside them.

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