Review — The Summoning

The Summoning
by Kelley Armstrong
HaperCollins, 2008

Book one of the Darkest Powers series, The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong is a fast-paced novel full of paranormal powers. The book focuses on a group of teens locked up in Lyle House, a group home for troubled kids, but these are no ordinary teens. Locked up in such close quarters they start to learn that they have more incommon than it might appear.

The protagonist, Chole, is sent to Lyle House to get help with a recent string of terrifying hallucinations, which she discovers aren’t caused by schizophrenia as everyone wants her to believe. The people she sees were alive once and as she starts to learn her powers over the dead, she realizes to her own horror that she can reanimate their bodies as well. She is helped in the discovery of her necromancy powers by the other ‘supernaturals’ at the house, including Simon a sorcerer and his foster brother Derek, a werewolf.

In fact, Chole, Simon and Derek suspect every teen at Lyle House is a supernatural of some kind, but what they don’t know is why they are being held together. However, when one of the girls in the house is ‘transferred’ and later appears to Chole in ghost form, the kids realize that they must escape.

Their escape doesn’t exactly go as planned, the teens are separated and Chole is betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust, leaving the readers wondering who is behind Lyle House and what do they want from their patients? Good thing there is a sequel, The Awakening, written and ready to answer some of their questions.

I read the book as research for a paranormal YA novel I’m writing and I really enjoyed the world building. Armstrong has been writing connected paranormal novels (YA and adult) for years and has a depth of already developed lore to draw from. Readers who enjoy supernatural elements and fast-paced storytelling will enjoy this book. The writing level is not as advanced as some YA novels, so it makes for an easy, but not challenging read. It also doesn’t have much depth in the way of literary devices; it is a heavily plot-driven story, but for many teen readers that is a plus.

Because the book is such a quick read, I’ll leave you with one final warning: you may want to make sure you line up the next one or two in the series because the first will go fast and you will most likely be hooked and ready for the sequel.

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