Friday, 13 June 2008

‘The Summoning’ – Kelley Armstrong (Orbit Books)


If I want to read some Urban Fantasy I’ve found that I can’t go too far wrong with anything by Kelley Armstrong. Her ‘Otherworld’ books occasionally veer into cheesy romance (for me anyway) but on the whole they’re entertaining tales of things that happen as a flicker at the corner of your eye. There are no vampires (at least none that I’ve seen) but plenty of werewolves, shamans, half demons and necromancers looking to make their way in the world. One of these ‘para-normal’ people is Chloe Saunders but she doesn’t realise it yet…
Fifteen year old Chloe’s only real aims, in life, are to make it through school in one piece and meet a boy. This all changes when she starts to see ghosts again, all she wants now is to know that she’s not going insane. A particularly violent encounter with a ghost results in Chloe being admitted to Lyle House, a home for disturbed children. Or is it? One of the children can make his basketball levitate whilst another has a ‘thing’ for fire and why does a disembodied voice keep telling Chloe to go into the basement? Chloe is about to discover that not only does she share something in common with the other residents but Lyle House is far from being a normal residential home…
‘The Summoning’ is the first of a trilogy aimed at the young adult market but I think there’s a lot in it that will appeal to fans of all ages. I’ve got say that, as someone who hasn’t been a ‘young adult’ for a long time, a lot of Chloe’s worries/issues etc didn’t do anything for me at all. I didn’t really care that she was shy, or had trouble with boys, but what I did care about (when it happened) was how she was going to negotiate the dangers of Lyle House. There were some particularly tense (and slightly scary) moments both with ghosts and the human staff who run the home, even when I knew something was going to happen I still felt myself tense up as certain characters walked blithely into danger. I should have seen the ending coming as well; it’s so obvious when you look back at it (especially when you take into account the way that Chloe compares everything to film plots) but I was left completely wrong footed by the way that the last few pages turned out…
If you’re expecting action then you may want to skip ahead to the last quarter of the book where things start to hot up. There isn’t an awful lot that can happen in a residential home governed by routine (except for a couple of scary moments) so what you get instead is a lot of character interaction building up to a climax. There were times when I felt this was being dragged out a bit (there’s only so much listening to teenagers talk about their problems that I really want to do) but there’s something about the way Armstrong directs her characters that not only kept me going but kept my interest as well. There’s a really interesting contrast where, despite all the supernatural stuff going on the characters still manage to come across as really down to earth and easy to identify with. I didn’t really care about what made them tick but I still found myself wanting to know what was going to happen to them.
‘The Summoning’ is a book that I had trouble engaging with but what redeemed it is that it’s full of what Kelley Armstrong does best. Definitely one for the fans, I’ve got a feeling that (despite my misgivings) I’ll be picking up the sequel…

Seven and a Half out of Ten

7 comments:

majikgodss said...

There are vampires in Kelley Armstrong's books. Cassandra--she sits on the council with Paige and is in most of the books that Paige headlines.

Graeme Flory said...

d'oh! Although to be fair I haven't read those particular books yet...

Tara said...

do you think Kelley Armstrong is getting better as a writer or has her previous stuff been better?

thoughts?

Graeme Flory said...

Hey Tara,

That's a tricky one, I'd have to say that I've enjoyed her earlier books (the ones that I've read) more than 'The Summoning' but I think that's more down to it being aimed at a YA audience more than anything to do with her writing. I might be able to answer that one better once this series is complete...

Anonymous said...

this book is amazing ! i fell in love with it, when i read the first page ! :D (L) if you like suspence, romance, mystery books then this is perfect for you ! :D (L)
in my opinion this book is AWESOMEE! (L) :D && soo iss thaa authur ! :D (L)

TrippleThird said...

if this book is as good as ya say (anonymous) then maybe i should read it :)

Anonymous said...

I thought the book was amazing and the ending was quite unexpected! =D