When you sit down to read a book whose author is primarily known for zombie novels you’d probably have a certain expectation in mind for his work. Timothy W. Long had taken that expectation, turned it on it’s side, and thrown it out the door as he introduces his readers to Phineas Cavanaugh in ‘At the Behest of the Dead’. Who is Phineas you might ask? Well that’s a good question! He’s a Necromancer who’s on the outs with the Warlock guild that governs all of the spell casters in the world. He’s down on his luck and taking simple jobs just to pay the bills.
Of course he’s down on his luck and out of sorts with the guild because before he showed up on television and proved that magic was real, everyone was happily living in hiding. Now, the secrets are out and a system that ran smoothly for centuries is in the public eye.
I can imagine why that kind of thing might burn a few bridges along the way.
The character is flawed, clearly, but endearingly so. Being down on his luck means having to take on all kinds of low level work. Between basic potions to being a Warlock investigator, Phineas will do just about anything to pay the bills. So when an old lady knocks on his door asking for help tracking down what happened to her recently deceased husband, Phineas thinks it’s going to be a cakewalk. That is, until he shows up and there’s a demon waiting for him. On top of all this, he also is working a case for the police and his mentor is killed.
If you think a demon is the worst thing that’s going to happen to him, that’s just the tip of the iceberg folks. We’re going to see old flames, more demons, shape shifters, necromancers, warlocks, Pomeranians, and a level of Hell itself before this little story comes to a close.
‘At the Behest of the Dead’ is a first person narrative of horror told through a layer of snark and sarcasm that will keep a smile on your face through each flip of the page. It’s a mixture of genres that remind me quite a bit of Kim Harrison’s novels that take place in ‘The Hollows’ with Rachel Morgan, but with a little less romance and a little more humor.
From his roots as an author who primarily writes about zombies, ‘At the Best of the Dead’ shows how far Long has come as an author. While clearly falling into the urban fantasy genre, this book also takes its time to poke fun at it as well. You always need to be clear that Phineas is a Warlock and not a Witch. He rides on a pitchfork and not a broomstick. It’s the first chapter in what I hope is a full catalog of novels following Phineas’ antics as he struggles through life one day at a time.
If you enjoy urban fantasy, horror mixed with humor, and the type of novel that will throw anything at you, I highly suggest picking this one up today! It’s going to be a quick read for anyone who enjoys the genre and not because it’s short – you just won’t be able to put this one down.