The best books on necromancy

4 authors have picked their favorite books about necromancy and why they recommend each book.

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Awaken Online

By Travis Bagwell,

Book cover of Awaken Online: Unity

A great story about the underdog bullied kid who rises up to become a necromancer builds up an undead nation, and rises up to contend with powerful forces against all odds. Great storytelling and compelling character, it’s a pleasure watching Jason grows up from a timid teen to a confident leader – and by using the dark arts. It's a great coming-of-age \ underdog reach the top kind of story except the underdog does it by embracing necromancy and his tools are the undead soul-wilting powers yet you can't stop rooting for him to win.


Who am I?

I’ve been a huge fan of D&D and RPG games since I’ve been old enough to play them. The idea of grooming a character, growing it in terms of strength and levels until it becomes powerful enough to take on gods always captured my imagination. LitRPG is a relatively new book genre, and reading it (the good ones at least) makes you feel like you’re playing those games yourselves. Following a new protagonist growth and journey, often illustrated by actual numeric values you can easily keep track of (like skills and levels) is so much fun, and I think more people should be aware it exists.


I wrote...

Life Reset (New Era Online: Life Reset)

By Shemer Kuznits,

Book cover of Life Reset (New Era Online: Life Reset)

What is my book about?

Insurmountable odds...hidden powers maneuvering behind the scenes...all culminating in a final, titanic, clash.

The mighty city of Everance lay in the GreenPiece clan’s path, but as Oren soon discovers, he’s got even bigger obstacles to overcome before reaching his final goal.

The True Game

By Sheri S. Tepper,

Book cover of The True Game

Within the lands of the True Game, humans possess specific 'talents', such as shape-shifting or telekinesis. Much like a planet-sized game of chess each player is utilised in great 'games' of war that ravage the planet. Enter Peter, a young necromancer, who must uncover the truth behind the disappearance of prominent gamesmen from the board.

Wildly clever and surprisingly touching, it's a novel I've read and re-read many times over the past 35 years.


Who am I?

I'm a spec-fic writer who has been fascinated by the world building and deep creativity of sci-fi and fantasy novels for over 40 years. A common theme in these genres is the use and abuse of power, especially of systems of authority that the main characters battle against—not always successfully! I've recently published a complete fantasy trilogy dealing with these same themes—The Wraith Cycle—and am looking forward to the publication of my next stand-alone sci-fi novel—The Currents Of Infinity—due to come out within the next year.


I wrote...

The Blood Within The Stone

By T.R. Thompson,

Book cover of The Blood Within The Stone

What is my book about?

In the isolated traders’ town of Greystone, two young thieves named Wilt and Higgs scratch out a living on the street. Both have quick minds and even quicker fingers, but Wilt has another weapon, an ability to sink into others' thoughts, reading them, knowing before they do what action they will take. Such power is not easily hidden when the Prefects of Redmondis come through town on a pilgrimage to recruit skilled ones, wielders, those who have an affinity with the secret welds that join all living things.

Epic fantasy with an original magic system, likable characters, and enthralling prose—a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered by YA and older readers alike.

Two Necromancers, a Bureaucrat, and an Elf

By L.G. Estrella,

Book cover of Two Necromancers, a Bureaucrat, and an Elf

This is a truly remarkable series. It made me laugh, and it only gets better as time goes on. If you’re tired of the darkness that seems to be creeping into modern fantasy, then this is the series for you. The characters are delightful, the stories are engaging, the writing style is spot on, and nothing terrible happens to anyone you like.


Who am I?

A few years ago, I read the Sword of Truth Series. I thought that it was well-written, but the tone was so horrifically, irredeemably dark, and miserable, with such truly horrible things happening to just about everybody in them that it actually put me off reading for a while. It was books like these that brought me back, that showed me that modern literature could show the best of mankind. They reminded me that even though bad things happened, human beings were inherently good, and that they tried to do their best, that the world was a bright place, not a dark one.


I wrote...

The Magician's Brother

By H.D.A. Roberts,

Book cover of The Magician's Brother

What is my book about?

In my world, magic is an everyday thing. It's on street corners; it's in our schools, our homes and even our governments. My twin brother is a Wizard, and thinks he's the only magician in the family.

You see, someone's trying to kill him. It started off with a shadow monster that was all but immune to my magic attacking him at school, and it went steadily downhill from there. While I'm trying to help the idiot, I'm also doing my level best to keep him from finding out about my own powers, and make sure that in my blundering about trying to solve a mystery I can't trust the Supernatural Crimes Authority to investigate correctly. Family can be such a pain...

The Devil's Right Hand

By Lilith Saintcrow,

Book cover of The Devil's Right Hand

This is one of the first stories I ever read with a strong female protagonist at the helm. Dante Valentine is a bounty hunter, necromancer, and a no-nonsense kind of woman. She is stubborn, flawed, and her story is a classic answer to what happens when you make a literal deal with the devil. I appreciate that she is unapologetically human and blatantly admits to her faults as a person. She is honest—perhaps sometimes too much so—and perseveres when things go awry. If anything, I would say she is a stand-out not only as far as female protagonists are concerned, but protagonists in speculative fiction as well.


Who am I?

When I was little I used to seek out stories that featured strong female characters—especially in genre fiction. This proved to be quite difficult, even as I enlisted my entire family to help in the search. Because of this, ensuring that each of my own works feature this is a must. I am an author, artist, and podcast host who focuses on understanding the importance of story elements. I am an active martial artist, have a degree in creative writing from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and often get mesmerized by the process of creating comics and music. I hope you enjoy these recommendations as much as I did.


I wrote...

Violent Skies

By T.J. Lockwood,

Book cover of Violent Skies

What is my book about?

Violent Skies is one story in a series of books meant to be read in any order. Each tale features a woman on a journey to survive in a world struggling to keep balance with both its population on the ground and in the sky. 

In a world overstretched in population and resources, the skies were meant to be the greatest beacon for innovation and freedom. The flying cities were constructed in a time of need, driven by hope and fuelled by ambition. The end results, however, cast an unintentional shadow upon those still making a home below. This is the story of a wanderer named Wallflower, a package named Jace and their journey to confront the echoes of mankind’s past.

Three Parts Dead

By Max Gladstone,

Book cover of Three Parts Dead

I’m drawn to fantasy stories set in modern-day analogues because I’m fascinated to see the ways that having magic and monsters as a fact of life would shape a world from the ground up. I’m particularly interested in the impact on more mundane matters like legal contracts and labor disputes. Perhaps no one dives into this topic with as much gusto as Max Gladstone. In Three Parts Dead, we meet necromantic lawyers and witness the legal and practical repercussions of a god’s death. In lesser hands, this could easily slump into tedious details, or the intricacies might be forgotten in an attempt to ramp up the action. But Gladstone finds the perfect balance, keeping abstract concepts engaging while presenting action scenes that carry true consequences. The city of Alt Coulumb is one of my favorite fantasy settings, and the entire Craft Sequence is well-worth reading.


Who am I?

Full disclosure: I am a fantasy world nerd! I treasure my visits to these imaginary places, and I love imagining how the world goes on after the last page. I’ve spent hours pondering what would happen in Narnia after the invention of the internal combustion engine, or in Middle Earth when populations reach levels requiring building codes and infrastructure planning. (I told you I was a nerd!) Advancing fantasy technologies creates new problems, new solutions, and new parallels to our own time. The books on this list redefine our assumptions of what a fantasy world is, and what stories they have to share.


I wrote...

Titanshade

By Dan Stout,

Book cover of Titanshade

What is my book about?

Carter's a homicide cop in Titanshade, an oil boomtown where 8-tracks are state of the art, disco rules the radio, and all the best sorcerers wear designer labels. It's also a metropolis teetering on the edge of disaster. As its oil reserves run dry, the city's future hangs on a possible investment from the reclusive amphibians known as Squibs.

But now negotiations have been derailed by the horrific murder of a Squib diplomat. The pressure's never been higher to make a quick arrest, even as Carter's investigation leads him into conflict with the city's elite. Undermined by corrupt coworkers and falsified evidence, and with a suspect list that includes power-hungry politicians, oil magnates, and mad scientists, Carter must find the killer before the investigation turns into a witch-hunt and those closest to him pay the ultimate price on the filthy streets of Titanshade.

Incursion

By Mitchell Hogan,

Book cover of Incursion

The concept is what initially sold me on this one: the child of a “dark lord” figure. Ultimately, Incursion, the first of five books in The Necromancer’s Key series, is a concatenation of unmaskings as the reader tries to work out who the heir of the Necromancer Queen is—and, be warned, there are some big red herrings.

The protagonist,  Anskar DeVantte, is a young man preparing to become a holy knight, yet as he works his way through the trials of initiation, buried powers and a past deliberately hidden from him by his superiors begin to manifest. He becomes involved (against the Order’s rules) with another trainee knight, a woman taken from among the subjugated local population and forced to adopt the ways of her people’s oppressors. They both begin to demonstrate phenomenal sorcerous powers, which draw the attention of the Order’s superiors, as well as that of the…


Who am I?

I’m the author of more than twenty fantasy novels, including the acclaimed Annals of the Nameless Dwarf series, and the hauntingly dark Sorcerers’ Isle duology. In my capacity as a developmental editor, I’ve worked on almost a hundred books for both traditionally published and independent authors. I was brought up reading classic fantasy and Sword and Sorcery, then spent more time than I perhaps should have playing D&D throughout the late 70s and the 80s. I confess to being an unashamed fan of Thongor. I’m an Englishman abroad, pining for the Sussex Downs and warm beer beside an open fire in a medieval pub I was once wont to visit.


I wrote...

The Codex of Her Scars (Sorcerers' Isle)

By Derek Prior,

Book cover of The Codex of Her Scars (Sorcerers' Isle)

What is my book about?

A hauntingly dark fantasy set in a world of carefully constructed lies, where the characters start at the bottom and claw their way up. Or don’t. Mad, cursed by the gods, or possessed by a demon? Whichever it is, Tey Moonshine's scarred flesh holds the secret to real sorcery and threatens to lift the lid on the rulers of Sorcerers' Isle.

"This is honestly the best Grimdark fantasy novel I've ever come across." (D. Woodhouse, Audible Reviewer)

Sabriel

By Garth Nix,

Book cover of Sabriel

One of my all-time favorites, Sabriel follows the story of a young necromancer as she battles the forces of the underworld to save the Old Kingdom from a looming darkness. When her father is attacked by an evil spirit and trapped in death, Sabriel becomes the next Abhorsen—and must take up the grisly task of putting the undead to rest. I have read this book so many times that I’m surprised the pages haven’t fallen out of the spine. The world is darkly immersive, and the magic system is fantastic. Sabriel’s bravery in the face of unimaginable evil is something that resonated with me even at an early age. I think reading this book was probably the first time I was exposed to a heroine of warrior caliber, and its message has certainly stood the test of time.


Who am I?

I grew up in Texas during a time when girls still had to wear poofy dresses and pantyhose, and boys got to have all the fun. The whole idea of traditional womanhood never fit me. It took a long time, but I finally reconciled with the fact that being able to run in heels and pop a grackle off the birdfeeder from thirty yards out are not mutually exclusive: a skill is a skill, and the injection of some femininity into a traditionally masculine feat can be wildly refreshing. We’ve only just begun to explore the genre of the fierce warrior woman—mine is merely one of infinite definitions.   


I wrote...

Harbinger

By Shae Ford,

Book cover of Harbinger

What is my book about?

A long and bloody rebellion wracked the six united regions of the Kingdom. Now the new King wields the vast and unvanquished army of Midlan and has granted a small group of thugs unbridled rule over the other regions. The King has also outlawed the practice of whispering—which is a problem for Kael.

It’s not like he asked to be born a whisperer. When he rescues a wounded girl from the perils of the Unforgivable Mountains, his luck only gets worse. She couldn’t have been just any girl: she had to be Kyleigh—the sword-wielding renegade knight with all of Midlan on her trail. She leads him on one mad quest after the next—eventually pulling off an act of such mischievous proportions that it threatens to change the Kingdom as they know it.

Kiss Me Deadly (Nickel City Necromancer)

By Jessie Thomas,

Book cover of Kiss Me Deadly (Nickel City Necromancer)

"A necromancer and a vampire walk into a cemetery…and if you’re wondering how this joke ends, that makes two of us." Nickel City ticks all the boxes for reasons why I’ll deprive myself of sleep for a book. The cast leaps out of the pages; Sera the witty, brave, but soft-hearted heroine, her friend/ex-girlfriend, Dev, a feisty, sharp-tongued vampire hunter, and then Nate, the brooding vampire who Sera just can’t ignore. Three deadly enemies forced to work together against evil; what can go wrong, eh? Thomas slays with this enemies-to-lovers paranormal romance. With delicious simmering tension and laugh-aloud moments, it’s a clever, gripping read that now has me addicted to visiting cemeteries in the hopes of bumping into a certain vampire.


Who am I?

The idea of paranormal beings living amongst us makes me irrationally giddy. It constantly distracts me as I wonder how they blend into society and live behind their closed doors. Happy to explore these possibilities, I love to read and write books where wolves, vamps, and witches are put through the wringer as they navigate a world that’s sometimes hidden, and other times not. Tenacious females, gutsy heroes, and heinous villains inhabit my dark paranormal and epic fantasy realms, but with added twists that make them not-your-usual paranormal tales. When not torturing my characters, I can be found reading tarot as I live my own otherworldly life in Dublin, Ireland. 


I wrote...

Bound (Turning Moon)

By Julie Embleton,

Book cover of Bound (Turning Moon)

What is my book about?

Hunted by a depraved evil. Maimed by his twisted magic. If she’s to survive, the price demands a sacrifice. Can she surrender love to evade death? 

The alpha of Nyah’s pack has aligned with dark forces, and his plans for her break the most absolute of Lycan Laws. With her pack under his thrall, and her wolf maimed by his magic, she turns rogue, her incapacity landing her in unfamiliar Lycan territory where she catches the unwanted attention of Dean, an alpha determined to learn the truth she hides. With her crazed alpha closing in, and the safety of another pack at stake, Nyah faces a choice. Her bound wolf will kill her, both alphas can save her, but which one, and at what cost?

The Final Formula

By Becca Andre,

Book cover of The Final Formula

Magic has appeared on Earth, and Addie doesn’t know what to make of it. In fact, she’s not quite sure what to make of anything—she has no recollection of who she is. What she does know is alchemy: While some people are magical, alchemists make magic using potions and powders. The magical don’t like the alchemists, and the New Magical don’t like the Old Magical, the creepy, secretive necromancers who run funeral homes and turn people into ghouls and zombies. The Final Formula has excitement, scares, and some mind-blowing twists—just know that, if you continue with the series, you cannot skip the “in-between” books.


Who am I?

I’m Mary Sisson, award-winning writer blah-blah-blah, and when I need to pry myself off the feeds before my head explodes, I reach for a particular sort of book: story-driven with a lot of adventure, a dash of humor, another of romance, and set in a well-developed, immersive fictional world. While all of these titles can be read alone (I hate books that were clearly written to sell a sequel—600 pages of filler ending with a cliffhanger? No thank you!) they all also form parts of series, because when my head is about to shoot right off my neck, it helps me to know that I have the remedy at hand. Enjoy!


I wrote...

The Weirld

By Mary Sisson,

Book cover of The Weirld

What is my book about?

Treenie is seven years old and loves her doll Bear. She also loves her oldest sister and her brother, Violet and Dougie, who are always sweet and kind—at least on the weekends when they are home. Treenie feels somewhat less love for Becky, her surly, makeup-wearing, bug-fearing, 14-year-old sister who—like it or not—is home all the time.

But Violet, Dougie, Becky, and even Bear have secrets—lots of secrets. An entire world of secrets, as Treenie is about to discover in this young-adult novel. A spell goes wrong, and Treenie finds herself in the magical, strange, and dangerous land her siblings have dubbed The Weirld!

Guilty Pleasures

By Laurell K. Hamilton,

Book cover of Guilty Pleasures: An Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Novel

One of the things I like about the Anita Blake series is that the stories are contemporary and vampires are now legal citizens... some of them even own nightclubs.

The books are set in St. Louis, where Anita’s primary job is as an animator... not the kind who draws cartoons... the kind who raises corpses as zombies. Her secondary job is as the official slayer, but unlike Buffy she gets paid for it.

In this first novel, the Master of the City needs her help, and calls a truce—for the time being. The Master’s second—charismatic vampire, Jean Claude, appears to be on Anita’s side... but is he? Then there’s the Rat King who’s none too impressed by Anita at first and the local werewolf pack. Laurell K Hamilton has every beastie you can think of in this series, and none of them play nice.


Who am I?

My passion for art and music ensured I’d pursue a career somewhere along those lines, and after four years at art college studying graphic design and photography, I found myself working for some of the top London publishers over the years. After (quite a few) years, I went freelance and I’ve been a freelance book cover designer ever since. I married the rock drummer I met at art college—we still go to as many concerts as we can afford. I have six published romantic novels; two paranormal and four in the Romantic Comedy genre (RomCom). In my ‘spare’ time I teach Zumba... well everyone has to have a hobby.


I wrote...

Dance until Dawn

By Berni Stevens,

Book cover of Dance until Dawn

What is my book about?

When Ellie wakes up in a dank, dark cellar, with no idea how she got there, or where ‘there’ actually is. Then she meets the owner of the cellar. Tall, dark, and scary, Will Austen is the vampire elder of London, revered among the city’s undead. Ellie doesn’t believe in vampires, so she reacts violently when Will tells her she is one. 

What Ellie doesn’t know is that Will has loved her from afar for over a year, and she’s a vampire because he turned her. In his mind he saved her, but will she agree? Or has Will simply bitten off more than he can chew?

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