The Summoning (Darkest Powers 1) by Kelley Armstrong
|The Summoning (Darkest Powers 1) by Kelley Armstrong|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: The first in a trilogy set in the same fantasyverse as Armstrong's Otherworld series. Armstrong very successfully taps into the teen psyche and the characters are both interesting and fully-fleshed. The supernatural elements take too long to get going, however, and there's an annoying cliffhanger ending.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: July 2008|
You may be looking for the similarly named The Summoning by E.E. Richardson.
Chloe Saunders is a normal teenager. She likes boys but not as much as peer pressure makes her pretend to. She wishes her periods would start. She'd like her hard-working father to pay more attention to her. As much as she likes her Aunt Lauren, she misses her mother who died when Chloe was very young. Chloe wants to be a film director and she's enrolled at an arts school and spends her days happily making movies in her head.
But when she starts seeing ghosts, Chloe's life de-rails. These ghosts don't hover past; they demand her attention. And when she eventually breaks down and causes a scene at school, she's sent off to Lyle House, a home for disturbed adolescents. To her shock, Chloe is diagnosed as schizophrenic. She's not so sure. After all, these ghosts seem so real. And when fellow patients Simon and Liz start to show similarly unbelievable abilities, Chloe finds herself in a situation beyond her control in more ways than one.
The Summoning is the first in a planned trilogy for teenagers, but it is set, I think, in the same fantasyverse as Armstrong's highly successful adult series Women of the Otherworld. It features a range of supernatural races living in contemporary North America and the lead character in each volume is female. The books are light, but wonderfully imagined and have pacy, adventure plots with a healthy dollop of otherworldly sex - always fascinating. Take away the sex, and you can see the makings of a rather spiffing spin off series for children in a post Buffy world. So the potential is great.
I'm not sure, though, that it was altogether successful.
Armstrong has an easy, relaxed style, but writes a super fight or chase scene. She's at her best in the thick of the action. She also creates sympathetic and interesting characters with a fully-fleshed and credible backstory. We see this in The Summoning but it does take a while to get there. We're over half-way through its four hundred pages before the supernatural element is actually confirmed and even then there are too many hints, too many fleeting snatches. The adult books jump straight into it and I do feel they are better for it. Annoyingly, there's a cliffhanger ending. These don't happen in the adult series either, and it doesn't matter how many times I say it, I won't get bored saying it - cliffhanger endings do not belong in children's books. Bah.
However, this is not to rubbish the book. It's good. It's very good. It's got great promise. I just think Armstrong got a little bit too bogged down in introducing her fantasy world to a new audience. Chloe is a tremendously interesting character. As a necromancer, she can see ghosts. As a teenage girl, she is vulnerable and unsure, and desperate for her periods to start, and sent into a flurry of pleasure-panic at the thought a boy might like her. The other characters are all as credible as are the relationships between them. The action scenes are great, even if they are belated, and in the second half of the book I really began to enjoy myself. I'm thinking the next two will be better, with the scene already set, and for fans of urban fantasy, they'll be something to anticipate. I think it's quite likely that the trilogy might see itself extend further. I hope so.
My thanks to the nice people at Orbit for sending the book.
The Summoning (Darkest Powers 1) by Kelley Armstrong is in the Top Ten Books To Drag The Kids Away From Computer Games For Ten Minutes At Least.
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