Book Review - The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Summoning

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins


We've all seen or heard about that movie with the kid who whispers "I see dead people". That's what teenager Chloe Saunders sees as well. Only she doesn't realize what she's seeing. It all begins with a nightmare (or is it a memory?) of little Chloe lured into a dark basement by a malevolent ghost. But the now 15-year old wakes up, shrugs it off and goes to Art school where she pretends to have as normal a life as a teenager can have. Then BAM! she suddenly gets her period and it's like putting up an 'Open House' sign for all resident ghosts. Naturally, she freaks out ... in school ... in front of disbelieving teachers who attempt to subdue her but whom she attacks in her panic-stricken state.

This gets Chloe sent to Lyle House, a remedial home for "disturbed teens". Wanting to check out of there asap, Chloe takes her pills, hides the truth in her counseling and generally remains subdued and watchful. But when her new roommate disappears after a disastrous incident with her poltergeist, Chloe knows something is seriously wrong.

She soon comes to realize that the other teens incarcerated with her exhibit special powers as well. If it's a coincidence then it's a pretty strange one. Staying quiet gets Chloe a get-out-of-jail-card. But speaking up about her own spooky powers may on one hand make her a permanent resident at Lyle House. On the other hand, she may just uncover the dark truth and in the process, face terrible danger. Are tentative new friendships worth the risks and sacrifice?


I loved Kelley Armstrong's way of writing from the very first 'Women of the Otherworld' book. And The Summoning, first book in the "Darkest Powers" series, is good as well. Although I'm not an young adult for whom this book is intended, I couldn't help but be swept away by the chilling suspense of this story.

Armstrong portrays Chloe in a very natural manner. She's a typical teen - dismissive of her father who's always traveling, ashamed of being the only girl in her group who hasn't got her period, isn't fully into boys but is interested in them and full of the angst that only a teenager can manage. The other characters at Lyle House are equally interesting, but not as well developed. I'm thinking that that's because this is an ongoing series and so the author has held back some details for subsequent books.

It's interesting to see the drama unfold as gradually one by one the teens at Lyle House display their unbelievable powers. The secretive plotting, the jealousy and rivalry, the psychiatric sessions, the whole uneasy atmosphere, the tentative new friendships - all combine to form a story that will appeal to both young and older adults.


Plotting is the one of the things I had some trouble with in this book. One thing I still don't get forms a crucial part of the story and so I won't reveal it here. But I will say that I couldn't understand why Chloe had to be part of it, other than the fact that she appears to be the central character. By the end, however, the decision makes sense, but not initially. I know it's confusing to those who haven't read this book. But those who have, will probably know what I'm talking about.

The book ends in a cliffhanger. I wasn't prepared for this as Armstrong generally doesn't use that technique in her adult books, most of which can be read as stand-alones. That doesn't seem to be the case here. The book ends just when it starts to get interesting. Perhaps it felt that way because I'm not the target audience. Whatever the case, I felt quite cheated when it ended thus. On the other hand, I can't wait to read the next one, so maybe it isn't such a bad thing after all.

In Short

Armstrong's writing is as good as ever and the overall suspense is to be read to be believed. So go ahead, pick up this YA book.

Extra Extra!

Buy the Book - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.
Visit the SERIES site - here.
Visit the Publisher - here.

You can also read the first two chapters at the series site or at the publisher's. Chloe even has her own LiveJournal and MySpace sites. Watch a book trailer here.

I checked out Armstrong's site where she calls this a TRILOGY! So there are 2 more books in the offing. The next one comes out May 2009 and is titled "The Awakening". Get some hints there.

*NEW* Joy Book Giveaway
Author Guest Post : Jasmin Rosemberg (and a GIVEAWAY!)

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3 People said


  2. You just crack me up, Linda, you do :)

  3. Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the review!

    --Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)


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