Interesting Yet Dull | Review of ‘Twice Dead’ (The Necromancer’s Song #1)


By Cynthia Ayala

Twice Dead by Caitlin Seal
Charlesbridge Teen,
Image Credit: Goodreads

“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 is struck down in the streets of Ceramor. Murdered. However, death is not the end for Naya. She awakens to realize she has become an abomination–a wraith, a ghostly creature bound by runes to the bones of her former corpse. She has 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. Alternatively, to fall in love with the young man and former necromancer, she is destined to betray.” —Goodreads

Expected publication September 18, 2018, by Charlesbridge Teen, Twice Dead by Caitlin Seal is her debut novel that offers readers a twinge of uniqueness in the story.

The problem with the story is the lag. There’s so much going on in the story, and yet there is insufficient character development. The story focuses too much on world-building than the characters. The story presents a world steeped in political intrigue, espionage, and magic, and yet the story takes too long to develop, and it takes too long to develop the plot of the story.

Following Naya, the unexpected happens to her, when on a mission for her father, she dies…and then comes back from the dead. It is an exciting way to start off a story, a compelling way to lure the reader in, but past that, the story does not focus enough on the exciting aspects of the story that would keep the reader interested. It is full of unnecessary detail regarding the world building, except it fails to make the story interesting. There’s history here, a history that buried for half the novel, which is regrettable because it is fascinating history, and does serve to make the last half of the novel compelling and tension driven. It also saves the characterization because, for the first half of the novel, Naya is not that likable, in fact, she is written as a somewhat two-dimensional character.

Many ideas are going into this novel, and they are many ways in which it can work, but the problem is the novel does not have a clear focus. The narrative should have a clear focus on the political Intrigue in the novel, turning the narrative into a more character-driven one, and yet it fails to create a captivating character. Naya is not a captivating character, she is bland when she is supposed to come off as angsty on some level, but the tone failed to capture that. She is a rather unlikable character in the beginning, and the narrative does not capture her conflict instead of sort of sidesteps many of the tension driven scenes I could have evolved into something but ended up falling flat. There’s one thing with her in a necromancer, and it seems like it could be a potent scene to showcase the internal pains of each character and the overlaying tension, but it is left undeveloped. Naya’s anger comes to the forefront and blinds her, diminishing what could have been an excellent scene for development and character dynamics. The scene and many after fizzle out. Much of the first half of the book is like that a lot of these tension driven scenes are just fizzled out without any development.

The last half of the novel is really where the story starts to pick up and comes together. The political Intrigue and espionage finally gets to shine. Naya gets to develop, finally, and through her, the character dynamics as well. The ending of the novel does draw interest to the sequel, so it at least does create energy and curiosity for the story’s future. Again the first half of the novel is very lackluster it has so much detail that isn’t important to the story or interesting to the reader and just weighs the story down. It is unfortunate because the concept is interesting, except it is weighed down by dull unessential detail, However, again that is only for the first half of the novel if the reader can tough it out they will be impressed by the second half of the novel which starts to get itself together. (★★★☆☆ | C)

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Product Details:

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

Page count: 336pp

Age Range: 12 & Over

ISBN: 978-1-5808-9807-2

Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen

List Price:  $17.99

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Kindle Store $10.99

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