Wendy, Melissa, MtSnow, Bethany, Dana & Marc review ‘The Necromancer’s Dance: Beacon Hill Sorceror, Book 1’ by SJ Himes, Narrated by Joel Leslie. Self Published originally February 25, 2016, Released on audiobook March 21, 2017, 8 hours 8 minutes.
Angelus Salvatore is the only necromancer in all of Boston, and his name is whispered warily by the undead and fellow sorcerers alike. He and his brother Isaac are the lone survivors of an attack by an army of the undead, in which Angel used a spell so powerful it forever marked his place in history. Now, years later, Angel struggles to balance his career as a teacher of the higher magical arts, his role as big brother, and a tenuous relationship with an Elder vampire from the local clan. When his brother’s boyfriend is used as a pawn in a mysterious plot to draw Angel out, Angel is once again drawn back into the old hostilities that fueled the Blood Wars and led to his family’s death.
Leaning on others for help is something Angel cannot do, and while he searches for clues as to who may be targeting him and his brother, Angel finds his heart steadily growing occupied with Simeon, Elder and vampire. Dealing with death magic and vampires on a daily basis may leave Angel jaded when it comes to life and staying that way, but the more time he spends fending off the ancient vampire’s attention and affections, the more he realizes he wants to give in.
Can Angel find out who wants him dead, and keep his heart safe in the process? How can he fall for a vampire, when his whole family was torn apart by an army of the undead? Death stalks the streets of Boston’s historic Beacon Hill…and there is no one more suited to battle against death than a necromancer.
We were each gifted a copy of this audiobook, either by the author, or the narrator in exchange for an honest review.
You can read Sam’s review of the e-book version HERE
Wendy’s Review –
I love this story. IMO, there just aren’t enough stories with Sorcerers. Somehow, they just seem a little bit closer to human to me than Vampires, Werewolves and other Paranormals. I guess that makes it a little bit easier for me to connect with them. This story was no exception to that.
I love Angel’s character. He’s been through his own personal hell, yet he keeps on trying to be the best person he can be. He’s strong and responsible, He’s also wealthy and influential, but that doesn’t affect his personality.
Simeon is my next favorite paranormal; the Vampire. The SEXY Vampire. Strong and a born leader, Simeon is also compassionate and gentle. He melts me when he is so loving with Angel. Together these men are off the charts HOTTTT! What I really enjoyed about this story is just that, the story. This is a thrilling mystery that had me on the edge of my seat.
This is the first time that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Joel Leslie narrate a book. I found him very enjoyable to listen to. He’s dramatic and his Bostonian and Irish accents are strong and exactly what I would imagine from the Beacon Hill area. The thing I think I liked the most was that he appeared to enjoy telling this story. I can’t wait to hear more of him and will look for him in other books.
Melissa’s Review –
This is a new-to-me author and a not-new-to-me narrator. I enjoyed BOTH immensely. First, I have to start with the narration. I mean, WOW! This will be the third book I’ve listened to by Joel Leslie. The first was Hidden Identity, and the second Crime Wave (I really enjoyed them both too). With The Necromancer’s Dance I looked forward to Leslie’s narration because I knew he was good. The slight gravel to his voice was sooooo perfect for this story. He is very talented with accents and I have to wonder if that’s why he got chosen for this story (works for me!!!).
I really, really enjoyed this story. Angel and Simeon are the main characters and it was fun to watch them find each other. Simeon is a Elder Vampire, and Angel is a Necromancer but that is only one side to him. He is really a sorcerer first with Necromancer abilities. As the blurb states, Angel is feared because he “used a spell so powerful it forever marked his place in history,” and this causes him a lot of potential enemies, or wary friends. But Angel has a sort of alliance with Simeon’s Master in which Angel is not to be bothered. Angel in exchange for this sort of protection, goes to the Master’s castle as needed to work his magic when supernatural elements are afoot. This is how Angel and Simeon know each other, and Simeon has had his eye on Angel for quite some time.
Angel has a lot to deal with in his life, and one of the hardest aspects is taking care of his brother, Isaac. Angel’s brother doesn’t want to practice magic, doesn’t use the basic precautions to ward his home and his boyfriend has seriously questionable morals (thief!). With sorcerer pupils and a magical partner, jerk police and now someone trying to kill him (and succeeding in killing others), Angel has a LOT to deal with. The new attention that Simeon is putting on Angel has him flustered and interested.
I enjoyed the story from beginning to end and I am anxious for the chance to read/listen to book two. Angel and Simeon are going to be one of my favorite supernatural couples, I can tell. 😉 I love vampire stories, and add in Magic and THEN cute mini dragons, swoon!!! A great start to what looks like a magical series; highly recommend and if you get the chance to listen to the audio, Joel Leslie does a great job!
MtSnow’s Review –
It’s been a bit since I’ve listened to a vampire story, and it helps if the author has a unique twist on the world-building. This one did pretty well with that. And, this is a new to me author.
First off, I don’t know that I’ve read any other mm stories that have a necromancer as a main character. And to be honest, it sounded kind of creepy to me to have an MC that can reanimate dead bodies. But in this story, since there weren’t that many grotesque details dealing with the reanimation process (well, there was one…) I was able to forget about it and just concentrate more on Angel’s role as a big brother, rescuer, and possible love interest to a vampire, more specifically, Simeon.
Angel does have some PTSD moments, and who can blame him with what he has witnessed and been part of in The Blood Wars, but in the everyday stuff, he seems just like a regular guy. And he doesn’t seem to hold grudges, but more just seems to be a negotiator, peacemaker, and someone that knows to tread carefully in many volatile situations. And no. He doesn’t seem to hold all vampires in a negative light, even with what happened to his family. This opens the door to possibilities with Simeon.
Simeon as a character isn’t as fully developed to me, and it could be due to the story being told from Angel’s POV. But, I do think the author did a very good job of creating Simeon as a true ‘romantic’. He seemed very sweet, and not at all very fearsome. After all, he is an ‘Elder’ but not the head of his Clan. So he still has to be somewhat subservient to someone else in his pursuit of Angel.
The supporting characters are pretty well created, but I look forward to some fleshing out in future stories. The mystery aspect always draws me in and it was nice that we as a reader didn’t necessarily know who was the killer till almost the very end. I do look forward to more in this series.
Honestly, though, what made this one so enjoyable was actually Joel’s narration. I don’t know that I’d have enjoyed ‘reading’ this one as much as listening. He does excellent accents, and I loved the one he picked for Simeon, as typically vampires seem overdone with the ‘Transylvanian’ type accent. Not here. Lovely and well done Joel. Thank you!
Overall a good audiobook, but most especially due to the quality of narration. If you are a fan of vampires, the idea of how a necromancer might blend in to a modern world of Boston and cellphones AND get involved romantically with a vampire, and enjoy the idea of various accents showcasing Joel Leslie’s skills, I think you will enjoy this story.
Bethany’s Review –
I’m going to start a little different this time. Normally I would give my review of the book then the narrator, but today I am going to start with the narrator, Joel. I started way after my fellow reviewers did with this one, so when they started talking about Joel’s accent for Angel, I grew a bit concerned. You see, if the narration doesn’t work for me in the first few minutes, I find it hard to keep going. There was a book I loved in ebook format that I couldn’t get through the audio version of, because the narrator’s depiction of a southern accent really rubbed me the wrong way.
Once I started ‘The Necromancer’s Dance’, though, I couldn’t imagine ANYONE else giving voice to Angel and Simeon. And not just these two, but the entire cast of this wonderful book. This is not the first book I have listened to by Joel, and I know it most definitely won’t be my last. I know if he is voicing it, I will enjoy it.
Now the book. I had a Friday off to clean my house for my oldest’s birthday, so I had eight uninterrupted hours to listen. And I used every minute of them. I don’t know if this book motivated me to clean while I listened, but man I got so much done while enjoying this new take on a vampire story. Though I wouldn’t call this strictly a vampire book, no it’s more fantasy.
At first when Simeon was introduced, I wasn’t sure he would be able to open up to love, he seemed so stand-offish, almost too buttoned up. I mean he is an elder and a very powerful vampire and I thought if anyone would be the one to fall first, it wouldn’t have been him. So I was pleasantly surprised to find out he wasn’t the one to hold back, he was the one that was full steam ahead in his relationship with Angel.
Now Angel, well he was, I guess the only way I can describe him is… grown up before his time. He takes on the role of parent to his younger brother when his parents are killed. But man his brother doesn’t make it easy for him. Angel is guarded, closing himself off to make sure his brother and himself are safe. So when Simeon comes along wanting things, promising things Angel isn’t sure he can return, it makes him question what he can and can’t give. He wonders how much more of himself he can give to someone else.
OH but when he does, it’s (pun intended) magical. This book is not at all what I was expecting, it was so much more. Action, mystery, magic and romance. I am so glad I had the opportunity to listen to this, because I can tell you I might not have picked it up on my own. I can’t wait to read & listen to the next in this series. I highly recommend this one if you are looking for a magical, mystical twist on a traditional vampire story. Well done on both the author, and the narrator’s part.
Dana’s Review –
I’ll start with the narration of Necromancer’s Dance. I’ve listened to many books that Joel Leslie has narrated and I am a fan. I recommend listening to this story because the different character voices that Joel creates add so much to the story. He provides unique voices for nearly every character and he emotes so well.
Now, my thoughts on the story. I finished this book in the wee hours of the morning, because I could not stop, not even to sleep. I had to finish the same night that I started listening.
The Necromancer’s Dance is so enjoyable because it doesn’t fall into just one genre or subgenre. It’s contemporary in the fact that it takes place in the present day, but it’s urban fantasy/paranormal because though it’s present day America, there is a subculture that exists of magic folk. Vampires, like Simeon, and sorcerers that hold many different specialties. Angelus, or Angel, is a sorcerer, whose specialty is necromancy. There is the romance between Angel and Simeon. There is also mystery in this story. Someone is out to destroy Angel and it really is a whodunnit.
Like Wendy, I really like the idea of witches or sorcerers in my books, because they are the most like us, and easiest to relate to. I love the idea of necromancy also. The power over death and the dead. I have read other books featuring characters that are necromancers and their abilities have worked in different ways. I like that there was a lot of ritual and spell working in this book. Angel’s responsibility to his friends and family and his family’s friends really says a lot about him, even though I don’t care for his brother’s attitude at all.
Simeon is a powerful vampire who serves at the side of the vampire master of Boston. His kind aren’t compatible with sorcerers in general, but when he met Angel, he found a way for them to work together, as well as a way to spend time in his presence. Simeon wants to stand by Angel’s side as a true partner to help him find out who is behind the recent attacks and help him when he needs it.
I liked the romance aspect of the story, but I was truly drawn in by the mystery and the paranormal world that exists alongside the world we know. Though I didn’t know who the culprit was, I did have some suspicions that the character was up to no good. The side characters were well written and the main characters were great. I definitely want to read the next book in the series, to see what comes of Angel’s relationships with Simeon, his brother, and his new apprentice. I would recommend this book for sure.
Marc’s Review –
I did not recieve a review copy for this audiobook, but when the other reviewers in this group review began to discuss this story, I had to use my latest audible credit to listen to ‘The Necromancer’s Dance’ as well. The title intrigued me, because I had just finished ‘Midnight’ (Dance with the Devil #3) by Megan Derr, which also had a sorcerer, necromancy, vampires and a fresh take on the paranormal world.
As the others did before me, I have to highlight Joel Leslie’s stand-out performance as audiobook narrator. He made every character sound unique and full of life. I felt every emotion of the characters through his performance and the narration really drew me in. Given that quite a few readers of the ebook struggled with editing issues and given that this amazing audiobook version is available, I would really recommend listening to this wonderful story.
For me, this story worked great as urban fantasy. I love wizards and magic, especially if a story offers a unique take on the genre. This is my first book by SJ Himes, but I am really glad I gave it a try. I really enjoyed the world she created and had a lot of fun diving into it to explore it further.
Angel(us) is a very powerful sorcerer. The lement he has an affinity for is ‘death’ and he was able to defeat a lot of vampires, through a very creative and instinctive use of his powers. He and his brother lost their parents and entire family in that vampire attack and readers find out more and more about what really happened as the story progresses. I was really interested in this backstory, even though I often just want to stay in the present when books spent a lot of time on things that happened in the past. In this case it is very relevant to the present and much more impactful once readers really care for Angel.
In a lot of fantasy and paranormal books I have read, like the ‘Nightrunner’ series by Lynn Flewelling, necromancy has a very negative connotation. The ability to resurrect someone who was dead seems very dark and sorcerers with that ability are often portrayed as evil. In this world, the actual necromantic ritual is strictly forbidden (for good reasons, I might add), but Angel’s affinity to death makes his magical ability very interesting, especially as it regards vampires. His affinity for death is not a bad or evil thing, just a different and very interesting source of power.
The fantastic narration, the rich world building, the compelling story and mystery as well as Angel’s POV all worked perfectly for me and make this audiobook a must-listen-to for M/M Urban fantasy and magic fans. However, I have to admit that I struggled a bit to connect with the romance aspect of this story. As MtSnow mentioned, Simeon did not seem as fully developed as character as Angel did. They have known each other for years, so their connection has not appeared out of thin air. However, readers were not privy to this getting-to-know phase between Angel and Simeon and we only see Angel’s POV. I feel like there is a lot about SImeon the author can still explore in subsequent books.
I really liked the flashback of how Angel met Simeon, because it showed Angel’s power and the sexual tension between them was visible. Simeon was fascinated with the famous sorcerer who had defeated so many vampires and impressed with the man’s power. Simeon is one of the local master vampire’s only two elders and a very strong and old vampire. Still, I’m sure the much younger Angel could have defeated him, if he wanted, and he is one of the few persons not afraid of the vampire. While no relationship between them ensues in the years that follow, Angel finds protection for himself, his brother and his brother’s BF in this very unlikely place and continues to be involved with these vampires.
I honestly would have enjoyed more sexual tension between Angel and Simeon. I wanted to see how their attraction was building up, but that seems to have happened between the pages. Readers can watch Angel and Simeon finally come together as couple, though. There is no deniying that they are hot together. I enjoyed the sex scenes between them and especially Simeon’s sexy accent in the narration. However, without experiencing years of interaction between them, Angel and Simeon’s relationship does seem to move fast and Simeon seems almost too perfect to be real.
Simeon is a strong vampire, but he is completely and utterly in love with Angel. He is always the perfect gentleman and very nice and smooth and even sexy, but I think some more edges would have made him even more interesting to me. I really hope we can get to know him better and discover different aspects to his personality.
I did love the powerplays between certain characters, who are strong in different ways. The vampire politics (or hierarchy) was cool I am very glad we got to see that in action. I also thought the magical processes were awesome and interesting. Magic in this story is portrayed as very ritualistic and full of symbols and the author plays with it wonderfully. Whether Angel uses smoke to draw out a magical compulsion, controls an enemy through his blood or works a very difficult and forbidden spell, the way magic works in this world is fantastic.
I also have to mention the incredibly adorable, little pet dragon. I am so jealous and want to adopt one. There is a really cool twist about magical beings like dragons that is revealed in the story as well and I am sure that will come into play again.
I loved the secondary characters like the new apprentice that is introduced later and the vampire master and am looking forward to seeing more of them in the future. They bring more color into this paranormal world and are an important part of making this story work.
While Angel’s brother wasn’t really likable, I was really glad for this very personal conflict, since there is none in Angel’s relationship with the vampire Simeon. I loved seeing this different side to Angel. He wants to protect his brother, but while he can teach him everything he knows and protect him with strong wards, he can’t make their brotherly bond as close as he wants. His brother doesn’t use his magic and disregards the protections. He is very ungrateful to Angel and they fight all the time. It really makes Angel uncertain if he is failing in his job as brother. I liked though, that he even tries to protect his brother’s BF, whom he doesn’t like at all. Angel tries his best.
There were so many wonderful moments in this book that just made me really happy and smile wide. I really had such a blast with this audiobook and I can strongly recommend it to anyone who likes urban fantasy, sorcery or anyone who needs a low-angst romantic fantasy fix with a very romantic and in every way perfect vampire.
I’m a thirty something bisexual cisgendered woman with way too big an imagination, but that comes in handy when I’m writing. I have been writing since I was a child, when I took a four page assignment on what I was going to do on summer vacation and turned it into a 100 page fantasy epic all written by hand…in crayons. No joke.
I work a day job, but I can’t share for who, since the Old Man isn’t as liberated as the people who read my books. I’m married, I have furbabies, and I live with loved ones. I adore a certain show about a British consulting detective and his grumpy army doctor, and that spawned an addiction to Johnlock fanfiction, which then evolved into me writing it. Gawd, that’s embarrassing. Put this down in the TMI section of my Bio, okay? I enjoy martial arts, movies where things blow up, and I wish I lived in a Marvel movie.
I live in the beautiful and lonely Berkshire County in Massachusetts, and I see way more wildlife than I care to on a daily basis (bears!). My perfect day is reading surrounded by friends and family who don’t think it’s odd I want to hang out but not talk, and my favorite scent of all time is a cool fall evening with leaves burning….less a scent, and more of an experience.
My writing is focused on gay and lesbian people, who are more than interesting side characters that hang out with the heterosexual MCs. My wish for the future is that when people ask me what I do for a living, I can say, “I write gay romance,” and NOT get weird looks.