Study Guide

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer Good vs. Evil

By Lish McBride

Good vs. Evil

"I will keep this simple for you, Sam. Join me and live. Defy me, and I will take you, your friends, and your family down one by one. I will twist and mold the facts until the Council turns against you. I will slaughter you, exterminate everyone you love, and get the Council to sanction the whole thing. No recourse, just death." (8.117)

Whoa. That's what we call a death threat, folks. And it's just what Sam needs to realize that Douglas isn't just some crazy guy who happened to set foot in Plumpy's one dark and stormy night—he's a legitimate force of evil.

It was scary when someone threatened everyone you love. If I didn't do what he wanted, what would happen? An accident for my neighbors? My sister's head in my freezer? My stomach dropped thinking about it. There was no way to know where he'd strike, and no way to guess what I could do to keep everyone safe. (9.22)

If Douglas kills Brooke to get Sam's attention, he definitely strikes right where it hurts. Sam quickly becomes concerned for his loved ones' wellbeing and anxious to do what it takes to protect them.

"You know what the great thing about babies is? They are like little bundles of hope. Like the future in a blanket." He stopped waving and shoved his hands into his pockets again. "Maybe your kid will turn things around." (13.23)

Nick may not realize it, but his statement about Sam at his birth ends up being prophetic. While how he deals with his newly acquired powers remains to be seen, Sam does "turn things around" by being the one to kill Douglas.

I shook my head. What she said sounded scary. I couldn't agree with her completely. "I was born with it. You always said nothing is born bad. How can the gift be given to me by nature and be inherently evil?" (14.24)

The debate about whether his gift is a positive or negative force lies at the heart of Sam's conflict about his powers. Being able to raise the dead is a horrifying proposition, but Sam seems determined to bring something good out of the situation.

I'd run out of ideas. I couldn't join up with Douglas. Besides being morally sketchy, it was suicide. Running wasn't much of an option. He'd either find me and kill me, kill someone else if he couldn't find me, or do some as yet undiscovered, horrible third option. (15.11)

One great way to up the ante in a story is by giving your hero a really good enemy. Douglas certainly fits the bill—he's scary, threatening, and knows no moral boundaries. That's definitely a recipe for tension and conflict.

Douglas had come into my world, endangered my family and my friends, and taken someone close to me. Would I be able to kill him if it meant ensuring the safety of my people? The answer came a little too quickly. Yes. Absolutely. The fact that I didn't even have to think about it scared me. Maybe my mom was right. Maybe something truly dark and scary lived inside me. (19.115)

Along with debating the nature of his gift, Sam's awareness of his power also awakens some pretty frightening thoughts about what he's capable of. While his willingness to kill Douglas in order to save his friends and family is probably a normal reaction of revenge, the fact that it happens as he's realizing his power makes him wonder if he is actually evil himself.

I watched helplessly as Douglas walked through the circle, breaking it. He took his time getting over to me. His black dress shoes held a beatific shine, even after all he'd just done. I could see a small spot of blood on them. (19.170)

The image of Douglas's nearly spotless appearance even after assaulting Sam with a deadly amount of angry spirits is truly haunting. The guy really does have no feelings about inflicting pain on others.

Poor Mr. Davidson got put through the ringer just so I could learn a few things about zombies, like how strong they were, how easily controlled, and that they looked just as silly as live people when they did jumping jacks. Maybe I needed the lesson, but I think it could have been carried out in a more dignified way. (20.87)

While the description of Douglas making the zombie clean his dungeon and reenact his own death carry a darkly comic tone, it still reveals Douglas's inflated sense of power and control, as well as what he's capable of doing to Sam.

With that one drop I knew something very important.

Douglas had killed a lot of people in this room. And a lot of other things.

And they were pissed. (27.5-7)

The knowledge of Douglas's many transgressions and acts of murder seems to make Sam both more terrified of him and more motivated to destroy him. The fact that Sam himself is about to join the ranks of people Douglas has slaughtered to steal their power only makes the realization more potent.

I needed to take the house on, if only to prove to myself that I was right—that this power could be used for good. I needed to accept what I was. What I am. (31.110)

Sam's desire to transform the things Douglas meant for evil into something good is admirable. But the question still remains: Will he succeed? Or will the power that was so intoxicating to Douglas get to him, too? We'll have to read Necromancing the Stone and find out.

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