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All Denton wanted was a few minions. He got frogs instead.
Web developer by day and necromancer by night, Denton Mills is used to seeing things nobody else can. When he starts hallucinating frogs, he simply assumes they have something to do with his boyfriend Bran’s obsession.
Bran Maurell is a witch, who in a youthful outburst, accidentally turned his then-lover, Peter, into a croaker. Bran has been trying ever since to reverse the spell. A fresh amphibian encounter only spurs him to double his efforts.
As if Peter’s ghost coming between them weren’t enough, Denton and Bran are forced to deal with several errant spirits stalking the citizens of Chicago. Between a French chef who refuses to admit he’s dead, and malevolent creatures bent on causing mayhem, jealousy may be the least of Denton’s problems.
With Dead Man and the Army of Frogs, we return to Harper’s paranormal Chicago, home of vampire Harvey and slayer Gabe from Spirit Sanguine and its follow-ups. In this second book in her off-shoot Dead Man series, sequel to Dead Man and the Restless Spirits, we find young necromancer “Dead Man” Denton stretching out his powers more, as well as dealing with the day-to-day trials of being a freelance web-designer, finding the best socks to go with his new hobby of wearing kilts, and trying to figure out his taciturn half-demon boyfriend who seems to be clinging to the past.
Like in book 1, Denton is a laid-back, easygoing narrator, and a good foil for his introverted herbalist lover Bran, who is a bit bemused by Denton’s new habit of going commando under his new kilt. (Fans wondering if there will be some sexy kilt time, my Magic 8 Ball says “Aye, Laddie!”)
Also, like in book 1, this volume is broken up into three connecting stories that follow Denton on a few mysteries as he and Bran continue to work together to help clean up some of the peskier ghouls haunting hapless Chicagoans.
For fans of book 1, I think you’ll definitely enjoy being back in Denton’s head, and there are a few nice twists along the way. (My favorite? Meeting Bran’s demon dad! My second favorite? Denton’s surprise minions.) Bran is still his enigmatic self, still a little perplexed by Denton’s go-with-the-flow nature, and still shy about his half-demon-side, but this time, you get to see a little bit more spark as Bran tries (and fails) to stay so-not-jealous around Denton’s friendship with vampire slayer Gabe of Spirit Sanguine.
Can you dive into this one cold? I wouldn’t recommend that. To really enjoy the characters and their growth, I would strongly recommend reading book 1 and also, the freebie short story Dead Man and the Lustful Spirit, since there are some threads picked up from there as well.
Do you need to read Spirit Sanguine first? That’s probably less necessary, but I personally would recommend both series. They’re enjoyable and not “same-old-same-old” paranormals. Both are marked by Harper’s style, which I tend to think of as realistically creative, fun, sexy, and low-key.
Related to “low-key,” my one down point is that this visit to Dead Man’s world felt a little low on tension, even with some darker forces at work. I didn’t feel too fearful for our young necromancer, so although I very much hope for a return to Denton and Bran’s apartment, crowded with plants and one clever black cat, I wouldn’t mind an extra shot of adrenalin to shake things up a little.
But for now, if you’re looking for a nice change of pace with your supernatural m/m romances, this series, along with the related Sanguine books, are a great way to go.