A grandmotherly necromancer seeking resolution for her past with the help of her loyal entourage: an undead cat and a spectral knight.
A girl on the run from the Eternal Empire for the mysterious power she possesses.
When a chance encounter pulls them together, Gam Gam will do what it takes to protect Mina from the rogue sergeant hounding her–including raising the dead. As long as they’re dressed for the occasion.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word necromancer? Powerful and intimidating dark mage who occasionally raises the dead and thrives on scaring and torturing people? What attracted me to the book was the name Gam Gam and the cover of an old lady knitting. I thought “ok, an old necromancer who happens to knit, sounds like a run-of-the-mill cozy fantasy”. Turns out, this novella is so much more than a cute gimmick.
We follow 12 year old Mina who is on the run from the soldiers for some unknown reason. In the forest, she comes across an old lady called Gam Gam who takes her in. Soon Mina comes to know that this old lady is a Necromancer with her own posse of ghosts and constructs. Mina eventually comes clean about why the soldiers have been after her. After learning Mina’s dark secret, Gam Gam decides to confront the guy who is after Mina and scare him to leave Mina alone. Thus ensues Gam Gam’s shenanigans and the story goes on.
The strength of this novella are the memorable characters. Gam Gam is unlike any other Necromancer that I’ve read in books. She’s nice, friendly, warm, compassionate and might be a bit incompetent at Necromancy (hey, she only became a Necromancer few months ago). Mina is a scared child who has lost everything she held dear and finds a home in Gam Gam’s company. They provide support to each other and make each other strong. Among the posse is a ghost called Sir Gibblet and a skeletal cat called Nugget. They provide plenty of levity throughout the story and are indispensable to the reading experience.
Where the book lacked was in the world building and the characterization of the villain. The villain has a dramatic monologue and a half-baked defense as to why he is pursuing Mina. The villain was not fleshed (haha, get it?) out well and the dialogue was too moustache twirly for my taste. The world building could have been better, I came away with a very vague idea of the world. The magic system could have been better explained or established.
Despite the flaws, A Necromancer Called Gam Gam manages to shine as a story about love, compassion and acceptance. Mina learns that loving someone means letting them go. She also learns to accept herself and the things she has done. The exploration of death and grief is brutal and poignant and heartbreaking.
“Mina knew the grief would always be there, the pain would never leave forever, and knew Gam Gam felt the same. But she thought maybe, with time, and with someone else there to share the hard moments, there would come a day when they both would be all right again.”A Necromancer Called Gam Gam
At its core, A Necromancer Called Gam Gam is a story about finding hope amidst loss. It is a beautiful story and the flaws don’t take away from that.