Study Guide

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer Tradition and Customs

By Lish McBride

Tradition and Customs

I wondered why humankind seemed so dead set on destroying all of its accomplishments. We draw on cave walls, spend thousands of years developing complex language systems, the printing press, computers, and what do we do with it? Create a cash register with the picture of the burger on it, just in case the cashier didn't finish the second grade. (1.10)

Sam's evaluation of our own culture may be a little harsh, but seriously—how did we go from complex literature and printing technology to pictograms?

By his sixteenth year, Douglas had learned all his aunt could show him. While most boys his age were chasing skirts, he practiced summoning and speaking to spirits. He could raise the dead. (3.33)

If you've got real ambition, being a teenager in necromancer culture looks really different from our normal culture. Training and practicing your spirit summoning skills takes too much time—to paraphrase the Soup Nazi, no prom for you.

If I was ever going to sleep, it was time to bring out the big guns, and my protection bag was a big gun. My mom had made it for me when I was really little and kept having nightmares […]
"For protection," she said. "You leave that thing on and you'll have nothing to worry about." (4.68-70)

The fact that Sam is a necromancer raised by a witch is rich with possibilities when it comes to family traditions. While he doesn't know the intended purpose of his medicine pouch at this point in the book, Sam does know that it's crucial to balancing his comfort level, as well as his bad dreams.

Brannoc let go of her shoulders and brushed her hair out of her face. "You aren't taoiseach yet. That wonderful responsibility still lies with me. Worry about that when the day comes." (6.49)

Bridin is basically werewolf royalty, as she's in training for the day when she will eventually succeed her father as taoiseach, or pack leader. The relationship between the two of them as she prepares for this role provides interesting insight into Bridin's driven, perfectionistic nature—as well as her dad's softer side.

Some people found Council meetings to be tedious. Douglas never had, but of course, he held the gavel, metaphorically speaking. He did not, however, sit at the center of the crescent. He preferred to sit at the end of the table, where he could keep an eye on everyone present. (7.20)

Chapter 7, where we get an inside look into how the famed Council actually functions, gives us a clear picture of the paranormal underworld's organization. It also lets us into the frightening location of inside Douglas's head as he conducts the meeting according to tradition on the surface, while secretly plotting to increase his power.

Although it was normal for pack members to go days without seeing one another, they generally checked in with the Alpha, especially if they were deviating from any regular schedule. Unless you were rogue, you checked in. Brid especially, but her father would cut her some slack, shrugging the lack of communication off on her busy class schedule. (10.32)

Not surprisingly, the werewolf community definitely follows a pack mentality. Bridin's thoughts as she's held captive in Douglas's basement reveal a lot about the close relationships within her pack, as well as the autonomy that coexists with it.

"I hated hospitals, but Kevin insisted. No child of his would be born using what he called 'hippie methods.' He reduced thousands of years of my family's traditions to a two-word phrase." (12.11)

Remember, Kevin doesn't know about Tia's witch heritage, nor how important it is to her. Still, it's understandable that she would be hurt by his insensitivity toward her family's customs.

Tia brought everything she needed to the hospital. After giving her baby a kiss, she grabbed her overnight bag and felt inside the small inner pocket for the bag of dried herbs that she had prepared at home. Mumbling the words of the spell, she sprinkled them on her tongue. The taste was pleasant, a sweet, green flavor. She placed a few on her son's tongue. (12.98)

And that, Shmoopers, is how you check to see if your kid's going to be a necromancer or not. Forget about genetic defects or other abnormalities. It's all about the paranormal super powers.

"Listen carefully. When we summon, when we raise, we are trespassing in death's domain. For that passage, we must pay." He enunciated each word, speaking slowly and clearly, like I was a child. "When we pay, we must use death's coin. Flesh, blood, sacrifice, these are the tender that death understands." (20.62)

The idea of making a transaction with death is super bizarre, but the fact that it has to be done with a blood sacrifice makes it kind of terrifying. Surely, this is the kind of stuff that makes Sam wish he'd never been born.

Ramon […] didn't know what to expect, exactly. So far they'd brewed some kind of green liquid with a lot of plants he couldn't identify and mumbled a lot of things he couldn't understand. There'd been some candle lighting and the general kinds of things one would expect from witches. He was glad that they didn't kill anything, that he hadn't seen any eye of newt or tongue of whatever. (23.132)

There's something about whacky Mrs. W., Tia, and Haley performing the ritual of unbinding Sam's powers that makes this just a little bit humorous. Also, potentially a Macbeth allusion.

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