Book Review – The Last Necromancer by C. J. Archer

From Amazon:

A waif, her abductor and a twist you won’t see coming.

For five years, Charlotte (Charlie) Holloway has lived as a boy in the slums. But when one theft too many gets her arrested, her only means of escape lies with a dead man. Charlie hasn’t raised a spirit since she first discovered she could do so five years ago. That time, her father banished her. This time, she brings even more trouble upon herself.

People are now hunting Charlie all over London, but only one man succeeds in capturing her.

Lincoln Fitzroy is the mysterious head of a secret organization on the trail of a madman who needs a necromancer to control his newly “made” creatures. There was only one known necromancer in the world – Charlotte – but now there appears to be two. Lincoln captures the willful Charlie in the hopes the boy will lead him to Charlotte. But what happens when he discovers the boy is in fact the young woman he’s been searching for all along? And will she agree to work for the man who held her against her will, and for an organization she doesn’t trust?Because Lincoln and his ministry might be just as dangerous as the madman they’re hunting.

Fair warning, this review DOES contain spoilers!

This one was a pickle for me. I adore Archer’s Glass and Steele series, so I thought I would like this one as well despite my aversion for books about necromancy. Her writing kept me involved as usual, and I did grow an affection for the main character, Charlie, a rough and tumble girl of eighteen who spent five years living as a boy on the streets of Victorian Era London.

At the start, Charlie was strong-willed and brave, leaving me with the impression she will be the heroine of the story. In many ways, she was, but in more, she was not. I was surprised to find this was a sort of Frankenstein adaptation, especially since that didn’t pop up until more than halfway through the novel, but I was able to adapt to that shift.

What bothered me was Charlie’s out-of-character response to most everything once she was “found out” as a woman. She went from an independent, focused “boy” to a swooning, incapable young girl. Her defiance remained unless she was captivated by Lincoln, her love interest/captor. Yes, captor. He kidnapped her right off the street for her protection.

That said, I understand that historical fiction (primarily Victorian Era England) would portray women as soft and weak, needing constant supervision and chaperoning. I also don’t have a problem with a female lead sharing the spotlight with a male, nor do I have an issue with a male saving a female. To me, it does not show weakness just because you need help. What I did have an issue with was Charlie’s sudden inability to take care of herself. One does not go from living on the streets of London to a helpless child in one day, yet that seemed to be what happened.

However, my absolute biggest issue with this book was the near-rape scene. I realize rape happens, and it often happened at that time, but when Lincoln PAID a man to “scare” Charlie by attempting to rape her, that crossed a line for me. He was no longer a potential “rough around the edges” love interest, but a full-on horrible human being. He set up this incident to scare Charlie into believing she needed him to protect her, then killed the man for doing what he’d paid him to do because he “went too far.”

Honestly, I was shocked when I read this scene because, until then, I had never seen such a thing in Archer’s books. I’m not a faint-hearted person, and I wholeheartedly believe even bad people can be reformed and deserve another chance, but… not like that. He got off with hardly a smack to the face, and Charlie was swooning over him again. It turned me off from reading the rest of the series altogether.

But, of course, my opinion is not the hard and fast truth—it’s my opinion. I still encourage readers to choose for themselves, because what’s not for me might be right up someone else’s ally. As for me, I’ll stick with the Glass and Steele series.

You can find C. J. Archer’s books here.