Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Summoning

Fifteen-year-old Chloe has no idea how much she loves her normal, everyday life until the one fateful day when everything changes, suddenly and irrevocably. One moment she's an upper-middle-class student, studying film at a well-respected art school, and she's thrilled that she's on the short list to direct a student film. Sure, her life isn't perfect. Her mother is dead; her father travels all the time; and she has to put up with a less-than-desirable housekeeper who runs things while her father's away. But still, she has a supportive aunt who is almost like a mother to her, and she's following her dream of becoming a director, and that is the main focus of her life.

Then something awful happens at school. Chloe sees something horrible and unbelievable, and when she screams and runs, the teachers get involved. They can't see what is so terrifying to her, and when it seems she might hurt herself, that she's having some sort of breakdown, the paramedics are called and she's taken to the hospital. The next thing she knows, Chloe finds herself at Lyle House, a group home for "troubled teens." There Chloe is told she has schizophrenia, and while at first she sees no reason to distrust the diagnosis, it soon becomse clear that Lyle House is not what it seems - nor are its residents. Soon Chloe finds herself part of a world she'd never imagined possible, a world where terrifying and inexplicable things seem to be common occurences.

This is one of the most gripping audiobooks I've ever listened to. I was so caught up in the story, I just didn't want to turn it off (which makes for a fairly antisocial mom/wife, but what can you do?). Cassandra Morris's youthful voice made it sound as though Chloe were personally telling me her story, which made the narration particulary effective. At times I grew impatient with Chloe - she was frustratingly slow to consider the merest possibility that she might not have been hallucinating - and that went on a bit too long for my taste. But she was a very believable character, full of typical teenage contradictions - self confident one moment, vulnerable the next.
The pace of the second half of the book was relentless, full of revelations and sly twists and turns. I would have been highly annoyed by the cliff-hanger ending if the second volume weren't already out - although now I'm worried about how the second volume is going to end, since the third one's not due out for at least a year. This is a novel that will appeal to dark fantasy fans of all ages, even though its intended audience is YA readers. I have only read the first book of Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series (for adults), but I will certainly have to remedy that. I found this one to be a very suspenseful read, with interesting characters and a compelling premise, and I'll be looking forward to completing the rest of this trilogy as well as her other series.

Books in the Darkest Powers trilogy:
1. The Summoning
2. The Awakening
3. The Reckoning (forthcoming - 2010)

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (#1 in the Darkest Powers trilogy); narrated by Cassandra Morris (Recorded Books, 2008)

Also reviewed at:
The Compulsive Reader: "Armstrong keeps a nice, even balance between the paranormal drama and the politics of the new world that Chloe and her friends are thrust into, resulting in a suspenseful read that poses many unshakable questions that easily propel the reader through the novel."
Darque Reviews: " This is a story that’s easy to follow, well-detailed as events unfold and easily enjoyable by both teens and adults alike."
J. Kaye's Book Blog: "I skipped work in order to finish the book. I simply couldn’t put down. The question will be why not five stars? One reason has been mentioned – believability."
Reader Rabbit: "The plot is fairly unique and pretty engrossing, especially action picks up near the end. And then it leaves us with a horrible and painful cliff-hanger."
SciFiGuy: "This is very much a setup novel preparing the way for others in the series. The Summoning is left at a huge cliffhanger that makes the novel up to that point seem a mere preamble to the main event."


  1. Ha! I said the exact same thing about the ending of The Summoning. I'll end your suffering though and let you know book 2 doesn't end with that kind of cliffhanger. I'm anxious for book 3 but not pulling my hair out like I would have been if I'd had to wait a whole year between 1 & 2. I'm so glad I got read them back to back.

  2. Oh, I love this one ! Read the second too, and loved it even more - I think... Can't wait for the third, because I think the ending in book 2 came too fast :)

  3. I enjoyed this book, but I haven't rushed out and read book 2, yet. Guess that means I didn't love it as much as other people. Good review!

  4. Nicola - Thanks for the heads-up on book 2! I loved the audio version, but my library doesn't have that for #2 yet. I think I'm just going to have to read it. I'm on the waiting list for it right now.

    Denise - Glad to hear that #2 didn't disappoint!

    Kailana - I'll be interested to hear your thoughts if you do read the second one.

  5. AnonymousJuly 08, 2009

    This is a fantastic series for any age. I loved THE AWAKENING even more. Chloe and Derek are awesome together. Lots of tension and a few sweet moments. I will definitely be tracking down the audio versions of these books. You got me hooked on the IN DEATH audio.

  6. Fuzzycricket - I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it so much - and that you like the "In Death" audios, too. I just started listening to Origin in Death today, and of course I'm hooked already. :-)

  7. This was an awesome read, hard to put down! I can only imagine the audiobook would be even harder to pause. I agree with everything in your review, I was a bit frustrated at her taking so long to believe what was going on too, but even with that complaint it was still a great book. Plus I'm fascinated by the character of Derek!

  8. I loved The Summoning and let me tell you, The Awakening is even better.

    Maybe I have to listen to The Summoning on audio as well, it sounded like a great recording.

  9. Joanne - I agree! It was really a minor quibble. I'm seriously hooked. I particularly liked the complexity of the characters, and Derek is one of the most complicated, isn't he?

    Ladybug - Now I'm looking forward to The Awakening even more! I'll be curious to hear what you think of the audio version.

  10. Wow, I can't wait to read this one now. I'm heading over to my library's website and putting this one on hold.

  11. AnonymousJuly 16, 2009

    I love her Otherworld series and have one more to read to catch up and then I will start this series. I keep hearing great things about it and am looking forward to reading the first two.

  12. Book Escape - Oh, I hope you enjoy it! The second one just arrived for me at my library, and I'm excited to read it.

    Rhinoa - I have #2 in the Otherworld series on my shelf - I hope to get to it soon!


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