The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
Published by HarperCollins on March 31st 2009
Series: Darkest Powers #1
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Length: 390 pages Source: Borders
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After years of frequent moves following her mother’s death, Chloe Saunders’s life is finally settling down. She is attending art school, pursuing her dreams of becoming a director, making friends, and meeting boys. Her biggest concern is that she’s not developing as fast as her friends are. But when puberty does hit, it brings more than hormone surges. Chloe starts seeing ghosts–everywhere, demanding her attention. After she suffers a breakdown, her devoted aunt Lauren gets her into a highly recommended group home.
At first, Lyle House seems a pretty okay place, except for Chloe’s small problem of fearing she might be facing a lifetime of mental illness. But as she gradually gets to know the other kids at the home–charming Simon and his ominous, unsmiling brother Derek, obnoxious Tori, and Rae, who has a “thing” for fire–Chloe begins to realize that there is something that binds them all together, and it isn’t your usual “problem kid” behaviour. And together they discover that Lyle House is not your usual group home either…
I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of this book. Frankly, in YA Fantasy Lit, anything that doesn’t scream “vampire” is a nice respite. So right off the bat, this was a nice break from what is the usual voice in this genre right now. Then enter Chloe, protagonist. I actually liked Chloe, which is strange for me, since I am generally inclined to loathe protagonists (don’t even get me started on Harry Potter…). She’s quirky, but controlled. She’s your typical teenage nerd girl – proud of who she is and dealing with the world in the way she best can all while pretending to be normal. And this is before anything weird happens. Armstrong gives the reader a chance to get to know Chloe a little bit before she changes, which builds a foundation… that is nice.
Even once Chloe is in Lyle House… she is not a dunderheaded protagnist. She makes choices, she doubts herself, she acts like a human. She is not helpless and while she is a little naive, it is not so much that you literally get angry at the book while she constantly makes the wrong choices. Because to the reader… she’s not making the wrong choice. It is clear that Chloe has a process through which she makes her decisions, and when something goes wrong, it’s because a piece of information is withheld, and the reader is as taken aback as the protagonist. That’s awesome. Loved it.
These days, with a busy work schedule, I rarely finish a book in a day or two – I positively flew through this book. Besides work, I was in the middle of a performance when I read this book… and I almost missed a cue once while reading it because I was engrossed. Armstrong is fabulous at weaving a world that quickly snares the reader, and you’ve read fifty pages and lost nearly an hour when you were just sitting down to read a chapter.
I believe that young adults will eat in her Darkest Powers series, if this first book is any indication. Even as a book for adults… while it’s not the most impressive read, it certainly was not a waste of time, and I know that I will read the next one. Chloe, although a teenager, was not entirely unrelatable as a character. And, if nothing else, the book is a quick read. But I enjoyed it, even as things were getting a little “out of hand” at the end. I liken the style of it to books like Blue Bloods and A Wrinkle in Time – it carries a similar charm mixed with strong female protagonists who have a fighting spirit and a storyline that doesn’t always go where you want… or expect. In a good way.