Study Guide

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer Manipulation

By Lish McBride


By his sixteenth year, Douglas had learned all his aunt could show him […] He'd grown powerful, much more so than she. She'd started to figure that out, toward the end. Unfortunately for her, Douglas had fully grasped her lessons concerning ruthless practicality, and he'd noticed that his teacher had grown overconfident. (3.33)

Douglas gets his first lesson in manipulation when he realizes it's possible for him to steal his aunt's gift by killing her and acquiring her power for himself. Word to the wise: never underestimate the necromancer you're training.

Douglas had to teach the boy how to get his gift under control. The last thing he needed was to give the Council an excuse to remove him as leader, and a rogue necromancer was a very good excuse. If training didn't work, he could just kill him. Both plans had their merits. (3.34)

Douglas sees Sam's appearance in his life as a win-win situation—by manipulating Sam and the Council, he can both protect himself as leader and acquire more power, even if it's just the miniscule amount Sam appears to project. It's chilling, though, that he sees killing Sam as an errand he has to do to accomplish these goals. Douglas really is a ruthless creep.

The evening kept playing out in my head. I kept hearing the man's voice, his implied warnings and threats. They scared me a whole hell of a lot more than the guy who wiped the floor with me. Bullies are easy to understand and outthink. I'd dealt with bullies aplenty in school. But the other guy? He was full of unknowns. (4.64)

Clearly, Sam's spooked by Douglas, and it's not hard to figure out why. Perhaps the "unknowns" he perceives when he meets him at Plumpy's are Douglas's skills at manipulating situations and people to get whatever he wants.

The man wanted a hybrid from one of the weaker families. Less noticeable, easier to handle, that was the implication. Well, if he thought stealing one of the others would have gone by without notice or care, then he was ignorant of how the pack functioned […] The pack wouldn't take that lightly. And her father would hunt down anyone who took one of his own. (5.22)

Douglas may be one creepy dude, but he's kind of ignorant when it comes to werewolves. As Bridin explains here, he doesn't give them enough credit—while he thinks they would just let the absence of one of their own go, he also underestimates their dedication to each member of the pack. As we know, this ends up being not such a good deal for him.

[Douglas] could tell by their faces how they were all going to vote, and could see no gain in exercising his dominance in this particular case. But if he made it seem like accepting the girl's petition was his idea, well, that he might be able to use. Especially since another weak wolf in the area would stretch Brannoc's resources even more. (7.47)

If Douglas were an ethical leader, having him as Council leader wouldn't be such a bad thing. Considering that this guy is basically just out for himself, though, his careful consideration of how to distort their perception is pretty dangerous. Douglas is obviously concerned with only one thing about the wolf girl's proposition: how it can benefit him.

"Why don't I look like everyone else?" I asked.

"Because you're not like everyone else, Sam. Necromancers are linked to death. The underworld, the spirit world, whichever particular appellation you choose to give it, you are one of the ties that binds this world to that." (8.77-78)

Being a necromancer not only gives Sam access to the spirit world, but the ability to manipulate and control it. He may not have Douglas's evil intent, but he can nonetheless access the previously closed sphere of the dead.

Tia raised her eyebrows. "You're suggesting that a member of the Council can steal talent?" She frowned. "Even if that is possible, the karmic debt alone…it's unthinkable. The Council is supposed to protect us."

"Yes, it is. But I suspect Douglas has begun to dominate the other members. Pushing them toward his desired direction." (12.69-70)

The idea that Douglas cares about protecting the paranormal community is a nice thought, except it's not true. And the idea that Mr. Nice Douglas might just be a façade isn't exactly comforting to those like Tia and Nick who have submitted to his leadership.

Her cold dread washed over me and I understood. She feared the power would corrupt me, that it would get out of hand. Perhaps someone else would use me for vil. For the first time, I was afraid of the thing inside me. (14.26)

The thing that frightens Sam the most about his powers is arguably not what Douglas could do to him; it's what the power itself could do to him, potentially transforming him into the same kind of manipulative troll as his nemesis. Sam recognizes the potency of his powers, and fears becoming evil and manipulative.

"Although Ling Tsu has the ability to function and make decisions on his own, I control his primary will. That is one of the main skills you need to cultivate as a necromancer. Each time you raise or summon something, you are betting that your will is stronger than its own." (19.157)

Let's see if we've got this straight: According to Douglas, necromancy is one gigantic feat of manipulation all of its own, all about asserting your own will over that of the entity you're trying to raise. If this is the case, we can see why that power is so dangerous when placed in the wrong hands (like, say, Douglas's).

"You should have just gotten a portal showing me. Geez Sam, you shouldn't have even gotten a portal. I should have just heard you calling."

"So once I did that?"

Brid slumped in the cage. "You officially became too dangerous." (25.30-32)

The incident with Ed the Upper Level Entity is a game-changer in the battle against Douglas. Once Sam is able to gain full control of his powers, he proves himself to be too much of a threat to Douglas, thus causing him to up the ante on his plan of destroying Sam and taking his gift. No longer able to manipulate him, Douglas has only one choice left: kill Sam.

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