I read this book around 10 years ago and only have vague recollections of it. However, given that the elements I remember are fairly specific, it may still be possible to identify the book.

  • The story starts with the female protagonist arriving by ship to a fairly large city with a hot climate, possibly Oriental or India-esque, with the bulk of the story being set there and her only traveling back by the end of the story.

  • She drinks blood from corpses and is able to discern information about the victim by doing it, but also has other magic powers.

  • She wears a ring with a gemstone and uses it to capture and store ghosts.

  • A particularly notable scene involves her getting drunk late one evening and then attempting to perform an exorcism the same night despite her intoxication.

  • Some of the story is also set in a temple(?) outside of but not very far from the main city.

There's also at least one sequel and possibly more, but I never read it so I know nothing about its plot.

1 Answer 1


It's only a partial match, but I wonder if this could be The Drowning City by Amanda Downum. It is the first book in the Necromancer Chronicles. It was published in 2009 so the date fits.

The Drowning City

The protagonist is Isyllt, and she is a necromancer though she does refer to herself as a mage at one point. The book opens with her arriving by ship in Symir:

Symir. The Drowning City. An exile, perhaps, but at least it was an interesting one.

Isyllt’s gloved hands tightened on the railing as the Black Mariah cleared the last of the Dragon Stones and turned toward the docks, dark estuarine water slopping against her hull. Fishing boats dotted Ka Liang Bay, glass buoys flashing in the sun. Cormorants dove around them, scattering ripples as they snatched fish from hooks and nets.

She has a ring with (I think) a black diamond in it, and the ring has various powers including the ability to trap and store ghosts.

She does attempt an exorcism of a spirit from a child whilst drunk. The exorcism is successful and the spirit ends up in her ring. She is out partying when she is approached by the girl's aunt:

“What’s wrong with your niece?”

Anhai stopped arguing and started walking, Isyllt and Adam trailing along. “It started as a simple fever. A common childhood complaint, rarely serious… I was taking care of her while her mother was away.” She shook her head, a wealth of anger and fear in that gesture.

“And it’s beyond the physicians now?” Isyllt shivered. “I’m a mage, but I have no miracles for you.” Kiril had tried that, and she’d seen the good it did.

“Not beyond—outside. A ghost found her, slipped through my wards, and now I can’t cast it out again.”

Isyllt smiled. “Ghosts I can handle.”

  • The TV Tropes page mentions, regarding blood, "Blood is used to add power to spells. Isyllt nicks the base of her thumb for this purpose, noting that it's more practical (if less dramatic) than cutting the palm of the hand."
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 11 at 17:34
  • Amazing, that's the book I had in mind! There's a minor mistake in your answer though: you write that "Isyllt ... is a necromancer not a mage". But in the second quote, she literally says "I’m a mage". But anyway, thank you! Mar 11 at 18:22

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