The Summoning: The Darkest Powers (Book One)

by Kelley Armstrong

Chloe Saunders is a fairly normal high school freshman, or so she thinks.  Then she is attacked by a janitor with a melting face only she can see–a ghost, but she doesn’t know that quite yet.  After the whole school witnesses her running down the halls screaming while being chased by an imaginary person and physically fighting with teachers who try to restrain her, Chloe is sent to a group home called the Lyle House to live with several other disturbed teenagers.  Chloe doesn’t feel crazy but isn’t that what all crazy people say?  She is determined to get better and get out of Lyle House as soon as possible.  Then things change.  Chloe is accused of thinking she sees ghosts.  Is that what she sees?  Are they ghosts or hallucinations?  Turns out there was a janitor who died from a chemical fire in her school.  A ghost, and he’s not the only one who’s tried to contact her.  What if there was a name for what she was, necromancer?  What if there were others with supernatural powers–sorcerers, witches, shaman, and more?  Chloe is learning there is a whole other world below the surface, a world that she is now a part of.  But what does this have to do with Lyle House?  Will Chloe and her new friends be able to find out before it’s too late?

Reaction: I have to wait until May 2009 for the next book!!!!  The Summoning is definitely a set-up book.  There are way more questions than answers and I’m dying to know the answers.  But for a set-up book, there is still a lot of action; it’s not one of those narratives you simply have to wade through until you get to the good stuff in the next book.  There’s a lot of sneaking around, gathering clues, and making friends/allies.  I’m afraid to say more because I don’t want to give too much away.  I feel like I may have already said too much with my summary…

Props for Ms. Armstrong: 1. Atypical typical characters.  So there’s a hot guy, a not guy, a cheerleader/hyper pretty girl, and a b*tch, BUT some of these defy their stereotypes.  For example, the hot guy, Simon, is half Korean/half Swedish.  Not your typical hot guy material.  The not guy, Derek, has an antisocial personality disorder, a horrific case of acne, and oil/BO problems that two showers a day couldn’t combat but he turned out to be my favorite character.

2. Lack of romance.  While there is a potential for romance–between Simon and Chloe or (my hope) between Derek (once he’s past puberty) and Chloe–but it never truly develops.  At one point Chloe tells Derek, “News flash: getting a boyfriend is not at the top of every girl’s priority list.  Right now, it ranks about as low on mine as you can get–way below such trivial concerns as getting my life back together” (272-3).  Amen, sister.  I am all for a little romance but it does sometimes get annoying when a heroine is more interested in getting a boyfriend than getting her life back on track, especially in these crazy, supernatural stories.

Small gripe: Witches (women) aren’t as strong as sorcerers (men)–via Simon pg 200.  Why, because they’re female?  Come on.  That’s not right.

Conclusion: Really great start to a new YA series.  Fairly well written with a lot more substance then I originally expected.  I enjoyed the characters and can’t wait to see what’s going to happen to them.

Read-a-like (kind of): Kelley Armstrong has adult series, the Otherworld series, which actually takes place in the same world as the Darkest Powers trilogy.  If you’re into what you read in The Summoning you might want to check out some of her other titles.

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About Casey

I am a librarian who loves all things reading, especially teen literature.
This entry was posted in Reviews, Reviews - Teen and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Summoning: The Darkest Powers (Book One)

  1. Jenn says:

    I got the same hope as you for derek and chloe. I mean HE TALKS TO HER!!! lol… I hope he gets all that puberty stuff under control and soon!

  2. bookworm4life says:

    I know, I can’t wait to see what Armstrong does in The Awakening…it’ll be out the end of April.

  3. Alena says:

    I’m joining in on the Derek and Chloe front. And I’d also like to say that the witch/sorcerer thing irritated me, as well.

    I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt, though; Simon isn’t an expert, exactly, so it stands to reason that he could only have half of the story. Perhaps sorcerers excel in some areas, such as spells with direct contact, and witches in others, such as auxiliary spells. Which is still a cliché (women can’t do close-combat) but not quite as bad as witches being all-around weaker.

    Or maybe female necromancers far outstrip their male counterparts power-wise, or something else of that nature. Female shamans are tougher than male shamans. I haven’t read her “adult” Otherworld series, so I don’t know. But it’d be nice if, say, female werewolves (apparently a rarity) were on the whole a lot more powerful. Evens things out.

    Anyway, I’ll quit babbling. Suffice to say that I loved the book, and waiting for the second one has been driving me nuts.

    I’d also like to recommend ‘Exit Strategy’ by Kelley Armstrong. It’s not supernatural; it’s more of a thriller, with the main character (Nadia Stafford) being a cop-turned-hitman, but the writing is just as excellent. The second book, ‘Made to Be Broken’ is coming out this month. So… that’s my two cents.

  4. bookworm4life says:

    I think I would probably understand that witch/sorcerer distinction better if I had read her Otherworld series. It’s probably not as sexist as it originally sounded.

    I saw a promo for her book Exit Strategy when trolling around her website. It looked good. With your recommendation I’ll have to add it to my TBR list. I like the premise of a female hitman. :)

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