The Kind of Necromancy that Never Pays
List of books and stories in which necromancy doesn't pay
Spoiler: it’s most kinds. Here’s the Oxford English Dictionary definition of necromancy:
1. (a) The art of predicting the future by supposed communication with the dead; (more generally) divination, sorcery, witchcraft, enchantment.
1. (b): fig. and in extended use. Something resembling necromancy in nature or effect.
2. As a count noun: an act of necromancy; (more generally) a spell.
3. With capital initial. A name formerly given to the part of the Odyssey (Book 11) describing Odysseus’ visit to Hades.
And here’s my narrower definition:
The kind of necromancy that doesn’t pay consists of trying to communicate with the dead—especially with the intent of trying to find out something about what it’s like after death--or attempting to bring the dead back to life. I don’t differentiate between different kinds of life after death (zombies, vampires, etc.) but include any kind of resurrection in which a living person remembers life before dying and then experiences a changed life.
11. A Good and Useful Hurt
A Good and Useful Hurt, Aric Davis
Getting a tattoo with a dead person’s ashes in the ink allows these characters to dream about their dead loved ones as if they were still alive. When the main character ends up with a dead loved one, he goes to extraordinary lengths to get some of her ashes and make himself a tattoo. And that’s when he realizes that he also has to tattoo the ashes of everyone else her killer has killed onto himself, so the dead women in his dreams can help him find their killer.
15. Johannes Cabal the Necromancer
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, Jonathan L. Howard
It’s the juxtaposition of Johannes Cabal’s dark obsession with regaining his own soul and bringing the dead back to life for his own purposes with his acute sense of morality and the ridiculousness of the situations he finds himself in that gives this novel the tension that makes it worth reading.
16. The Monkey's Paw
The Monkey's Paw, W.W. Jacobs
A wife asks her husband to use a magical object to wish their son back to life. Soon afterwards they hear a knock at the door and he is afraid to open it, realizing that their son’s body has been buried for more than a week. He suddenly understands that the thing outside is not the son they knew and loved and makes another wish so that when the door is finally opened, there is no one there.
18. Revival: A Novel
Revival, Stephen King
What Jamie sees and hears when a preacher’s electrical device is successful at raising the dead is horrifying. It kills the preacher and brings Jamie himself to the edge of sanity, where he totters, off-balance for the rest of his days, afraid to die and find out that the horrifying glimpse he had of life beyond death is all that there is.
27. Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)
Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
Acts of necromancy in this series include the reanimation of Voldemort and the ability to speak with the dead using the “resurrection stone” which was formerly owned by one of the three brothers who performed necromancy.
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