Review — The Reckoning

The Reckoning
by Kelley Armstrong
HaperCollins, 2010

The Reckoning, Armstrong’s third and final book in her Darkest Powers series brings some closure to the story of Chloe and her fellow Edison Group ‘experiments.’ This novel finally clears up the question over which adults are genuinely looking out for the teens and those who are just looking to cover up the fact they were part of ethically questionable genetic experiments. The good news is that by the end of the book, they understand who they can count as allies. The bad news is that at the start of the novel they are in the custody of those who are really good at pretending they are looking out for the kids’ best interests.

The novel also brings closure to the developing love triangle between Simon, Derek and Chloe. While some might say that the resolution is surprising, most readers will likely have seen the love match coming from the first book. Still, it’s interesting to witness the characters not realize what is happening as a result of the strengthening bonds that often develop between those who share a traumatic experience, even if it’s not exactly unexpected.

As is typical of an Armstrong story, though, for every thread that gets neatly tied off, another is left to dangle with the tease of another story yet to weave. Many of her novels are interconnected and the wider world she draws from seems to stretch to infinity. If you haven’t gotten enough of the characters and their supernatural adventures, you are likely to find them popping in other tales. Chloe and Derek, specifically, star in a pair of books that continue the Darkest Power stories, one a novel which serves as epilogue to the first three books and one a series of short stories that are woven in and around the first three books.

For a general recommendation, I stick by my first impression of book one–the series is plot-driven, easy-reading, supernatural fun. If witches and wizards, necromancers and werewolves are your thing, you’ll almost certainly enjoy the ride.

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Review — The Awakening

The Awakening
by Kelley Armstrong
HaperCollins, 2009

The second book of the Darkest Powers series, The Awakening, by Kelley Armstrong continues the story of Chloe and her band of runaway supernatural friends. The novel starts off where The Summoning left off, with the kids’ short-lived escape plan thwarted, at least for Chloe. Derek and Simon got away, and Chloe manages to slip away again while “helping” the Edison Group look for the boys. Despite the group’s claim that they only want to keep the kids safe, Chole knows the truth after finding records recording the elimination of other supernatural kids who were once patients at the Lyle House. Even before finding that proof, Chloe knew she should be worried when Liz, one of the supernaturals “transferred” from the Lyle House appeared to Chloe as a ghost.

The second escape attempt is more successful and they’ve added Tori, a difficult pain in the butt, but also a powerful witch, powers that come in handy when you are trying to get away from other supernaturals. The second novel finds the kids, Tori, Simon a sorcerer, Derek a werewolf on the verge of changing for the first time, and Chloe a freakishly powerful necromancer on the run, hoping to find safe harbor at Andrew’s, a friend of the boys’ father. Andrew and Simon and Derek’s dad had a falling out a few years earlier, but he is still their guardian and they hope he can be trusted.

On the way to Andrew’s Chloe and Derek are separated from the group when Derek gets off the bus in the throws of the werewolf change. Chloe stays behind with Derek to support him and their relationship begins to change from contentious and combative to an intimate friendship that surprises both of them. Readers see this relationship coming way before the characters, which made their cluelessness feel a bit obvious and intentional.

Escaping the Edison group and getting to Andrew’s house takes up the bulk of this novel, which ends with the kids safely hidden at a Victorian mansion that used to belong to the man who started the Edison Group experiments years earlier. The connection suggests that our group of supernatural minors aren’t exactly protected, but rather trapped again.

This novel is focused more on developing the relationships between characters than advancing the plot. While the kids do learn more about their powers and the rules of the supernatural world they are just now being introduced to, most of the work of this second book is to set up the third novel. As a stand alone it wouldn’t be a very satisfying read but as a bridge between novels it just satisfying enough to propel readers on to the third book.