I’m a fan of Armstrong’s Otherworld series (also called Women of the Otherworld). I picked up The Summoning, which is set in the same world although the characters do not intersect, three or four months ago and enjoyed it even more. The Summing is an ALA Amazing Audiobooks Nominee 2009- 2010 (Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/booklistsawards/amazingaudiobooks/nominations.cfm), on the Texas Library Association Tayshas High School Reading List (Retrieved from http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780061450549/The_Summoning/index.aspx), and on the shortlist for 2009 Sunburst Award (Retrieved from http://www.sunburstaward.org/content/shortlists-2009-sunburst-awards).
Series Title: Darkest Powers
Author: Kelley Armstrong
ISBN-10: 0061662690 ISBN-13: 9780061662690
City and Publisher: New York: Harper Collins
Copyright Date: 2008
Author’s Website: http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/
Reader’s Advisory: Chloe Saunders wants to direct blockbuster films when she grows up. She can’t help comparing her life to a horror film when she starts seeing ghosts.
Plot Summary: Chloe Saunders is shy, small, and fifteen. When she gets shortlisted to direct a film at her art school, she can’t help but think things are looking up. When she sees the hideously burned ghost of the school’s old janitor and runs screaming through the halls, she can’t help but think she’s gone crazy. Promised only a short stay in Lyle house, a group home for mentally unstable teens, she begins to realize that maybe there’s nothing wrong with her. She, as well as the other kids in the group home, might just have some special talents.
Critical Evaluation: The Summoning is the first book in a series, and a lot of time is spent on exposition. The book seems to mark time until it is almost over and then the brief action leads to little resolution. Nevertheless, it slowly grips the reader, and the unresolved ending creates a deep hunger for the next volume.
Chloe is a likable character. She is admirable, although she also has humanizing doubts and fears. Her nemesis, Tori, treats her poorly, but sometimes Chloe finds a grain of truth in her insults. The book also hints at an intriguing love triangle between Chloe, Simon (an attractive and confident boy), and Simon’s foster brother Derek (an awkward, rude, strong silent type).
Reading Level/Interest: Age 13 and up
Curriculum Ties: The Summoning is an excellent just for fun read.
Booktalking Ideas: Make a story board of the plot, to tie in Chloe’s love for movies.
Beasties and Supernatural Elements: Psychic Powers, Demons, Warlocks, Werewolves
Influences from Other Genres: Romance, Boarding School Novel
Challenge Issues: Chloe’s escape from the group home, while a necessary part of the story, may strike some parents as encouraging teens to run away. Librarians should not hesitate to point out that Chloe is really escaping from a threatening situation, not from adults in general. Chloe’s father loves her, and she wishes she could go to him, but she does not want to put him in danger.
About the Author: Kelley Armstrong lives in rural Ontario with her husband and three children. She writes the Otherworld series (adult paranormal) and the Nadia Stafford series (adult thriller). (More details at http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/mAuthor.htm)