Today’s review is about A NECROMANCER CALLED GAM GAM by Adam Holcombe. This somewhat cozy fantasy novella follows Mina and Gam Gam as they seek to put an end to the pursuit of Mina’s powers. Climb aboard for an undead adventure complete with knit wear.
This review is brought to you by my participation in the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championship (SFINCS). SFINCS, pronounced “sphinx”, is a yearly competition to recognize, honor, and celebrate the talent and creativity present in the indie community. It’s a sister competition to both SPFBO and SPSFC, and it highlights greatness in the novella format in all areas of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc.). I am part of Team Behind the Musings. You can find out more about us here.
Author: Adam Holcombe
Series: Chronicles of Gam Gam
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Bounty Ink Press
Publish Date: May 30, 2023
Print Length: 170
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.
A NECROMANCER CALLED GAM GAM is a cozy-adjacent novella about fighting for what’s right and making the bully stand down. It doesn’t really fall within the cozy buzzword genre, in my opinion, because there is gore, on page death, and terror. However, I think the grandmotherly element of Gam Gam is what makes it pseudo cozy.
The official synopsis implies a predominant point of view from Gam Gam. But it’s entirely from Mina’s POV, who is a 12-year-old girl on the run to avoid being used for her power. She encounters Gam Gam in the forest who immediately decides to protect her from her pursuers. As they travel together over the course of a few days, Mina and Gam Gam decide to end one man’s endless pursuit of Mina’s powers. With a little help from some undead friends, they put their plan into action.
One thing I found most entertaining in A NECROMANCER CALLED GAM GAM was the character names. There’s Sir Gibblet, the spectral knight loyal to Gam Gam and her cause, whatever it may be at a given time. And then there’s Nugget, the skeletal cat. I wish Nugget had more page time, but I took what I got!
Gam Gam definitely imbues that kindly but sensible grandmother figure. She knows when to offer Mina words of encouragement and when to let her sulk it out. She pushes gently, which allows Mina to slowly build confidence and discover her inner strength and power. Holcombe created well written characters in this slice-of-life fantasy tale. I also found the different powers people can possess interesting. I wish I had little more time on that aspect. But, then again, this story is clearly more about character development and owning one’s powers and past.
If you like semi-cozy fantasies with necromancy, then give A NECROMANCER CALLED GAM GAM a shot. It might even inspire you to knit your own winter accessories.
Content warnings: death of a parent, child death (historical, minor), gore
Reading format: Kindle e-book