Title: Twice Dead
Author: Caitlin Seal
Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
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’s struck down in the streets of Ceramor. Murdered.
But death is not the end for Naya. She awakens to realize she’s become an abomination–a wraith, a ghostly creature bound by runes to the bones of her former corpse. She’s 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. Or to fall in love with the young man and former necromancer she is destined to betray.
“The stories varied, but one fact remained the same: the undead weren’t human anymore, no matter how well they faked it.”
Besides being drawn in by the cover, I was initially pulled into the story by the unique summary. There’s not many Young Adult books that dabble in the paranormal, in the sense of wraiths and reapers and necromancy. I’ve always been interested in the world of necromancy, and to me, it’s no surprise that my favorite part of this book was the concept of necromancy.
Necromancy is communicating with the dead, which is part of Lucia’s specialty. Lucia is the one who brings Naya back from the dead. Well, brings her back in the form of a wraith, an undead being that needs aether to basically live. Raising the dead in this story involves runes that are etched onto bonds, or even solid objects, such as a furnace. The concept of runes and aether were a delightful surprise. Both had a strong presence in the novel, as both played a huge role in Naya’s new life (and secret life). There were not a ton of scenes that involved raising the dead, but there was enough to satisfy the reader while also staying true to Naya’s story.
Naya, the main character, after being raised from the dead, finds out that she was only raised for one thing: to be a spy for her country. She never wanted to become a wraith, nor did she wanted to get tangled up in murder and dangerous plots. She never expected to die. The idea of using a wraith as a spy was very intriguing and definitely different from many stories. Being undead fit well for Naya, as I feel if she was still alive, there would not be a need for her story. As the reader, I saw her struggle with coming to terms of what she has become, while also staying linked to her past. Even so, I unfortunately did not see a lot of character development on her end. Naya was interesting, but there were times where she focused more on doing what she was told instead of following her instincts. Or she would do something drastic without weighing the consequences, which are mistakes we all made, but she seemed to make them over and over. She has a vast amount of potential, just like the story, so I hope to see more of her development as an individual in the second book.
Corton, though, was a great character. He had a lot of backstory and played a huge role in Naya’s life, even if she was not aware of it. Him being the love interest was pretty obvious, but nothing wrong with that. I thought the two characters worked well together and had strong chemistry. There were a few scenes where you could feel the tension between Naya and Corten; those are some of my favorite scenes in books because it truly captures what it’s like to interact with someone who emotionally affects you.
Overall, the storyline is strong. There are some areas where it will feel like the story is dragging on, but I promise, there are some really amazing scenes in Twice Dead. The political plots and necromancy are two sturdy topics in the book, which really make for a fun and unique story. The world building is absolutely breathtaking and very descriptive; it’s a world unlike any other. Even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of Twice Dead, I do plan on continuing this series. I love the idea of necromancy and I want to see how Naya develops in the second book.
I recommend this book for those who enjoy paranormal and unique stories in the YA genre.