The Summoning, The Awakening and The Reckoning
by Kelley Armstrong
The Darkest Powers Trilogy
Copyrights 2008, 2009 and 2010
Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins
390, 360 and 391 pages, respectively
I always like to say I'm not much of a series reader, but I also frequently end up contradicting myself by reading books that aren't "my thing", simply because I like variety. The Darkest Powers Trilogy was one of those cases in which I chose to read an entire series almost back-to-back -- something I almost never do! -- after reading a brief review of The Summoning that sounded intriguing and finding that the first book was a tremendously fun read with a set of characters I just had to to follow on their continuing adventures.
I'm pretty sure Andi sent me The Summoning, a little over a year ago. Thanks, Andiloo!!
The heroine of the series is Chloe. 15 years old, tiny and a bit of an outcast, Chloe's life takes a drastic turn when she suddenly finds herself summoning ghosts. She is a necromancer -- a person who can call ghosts from the grave and even throw them back into their bodies.
Unfortunately, Chloe's ability to see ghosts arrives at a rather inconvenient time, in the middle of a school day. Chloe is totally freaked out and ends up being sedated, hospitalized and then sent to a group home for teens with psychiatric disorders. And, that is merely the beginning of the adventure for Chloe, Simon, Liz, Tori and Derek -- teenagers who are being treated for alleged mental disorders in an attempt to suppress their powers.
There are demi-demons, sorcerers, witches, necromancers and werewolves in the Darkest Powers books. I don't want to give away anything important because I really enjoyed the unfolding story and not having any idea what was ahead, so I'll stick to generalities with a little self-interviewing, starring my invisible friend as the interviewer.
Invisible Friend: Tell us a little about why you read this entire series within a short time span.
Bookfool: Besides gripping storytelling and characters worth following, one of the things that I loved which really pulled me into Chloe's world and kept me wanting more was the dose of reality. You eventually find out that Lyle House -- the home for "mentally ill" teenagers -- is not quite what it seems, but The Summoning takes place mostly in that group home and it struck me as surprisingly plausible.
IF: That description -- a book that "takes place in a group home" doesn't have the most exciting ring. Is there a lot of action?
BF: Absolutely. The Summoning sets up the story of Chloe and the people who will become her closest friends, but there's really never a dull moment. Each of the teenagers must learn to control his or her powers; they're faced with mortal danger and it eventually becomes obvious that they will have to take charge of their own fate and search for the truth that's being withheld from them.
BF: Why they are being basically held captive and drugged into submission.
IF: Do the books have cliffhanger endings?
BF: No, they're each wrapped up nicely, which I loved. Authors who try to lure readers to a second book by not actually tying up any of the strings that have drawn the reader through the book tend to actually convince me not to read the next book when they don't wrap up the first. I don't like being toyed with. I appreciated the way Kelley Armstrong made each book feel complete and yet still managed to convince me I had to read that next book right away.
IF: Would you have felt the same way about the books if they hadn't all been immediately available?
BF: No doubt about it. The Summoning is such an action-packed thrill ride and the characters are so likable that I would have impatiently waited for the next installment. I'm glad I didn't have to, though, because I enjoyed having one story fresh in my mind when I moved on to the next.
IF: I'm curious about the necklace the girl is holding on the covers of each book. Is that significant?
BF: The necklace has a special power and it does, in fact, change colors from one book to the next. So, the covers are pretty accurate, apart from the fact that Chloe's hair is all wrong.
IF: Is there anything you can share about The Awakening and The Reckoning without spoiling them for all those extremely attractive people now staring at their monitors?
BF: Chloe begins the series as a stuttering girl who is unsure of herself but as the series progresses, she learns to control her powers and trust herself. The slow but steady development of her inner strength is extremely satisfying. The other characters also develop, learn to trust each other and become friends.
There is a little romance but it's totally clean. I absolutely love the fact that Chloe is mature enough to keep a distance and her feelings are allowed to slowly grow. There's no sex. I don't think there is any swearing, either. I'd happily hold up Kelley Armstrong as an example of how writing for young adults can be respectful to them without sinking into the icky depths of sexuality and profanity that's becoming all too common in writing for teens.
The pacing is simply stunning. There's a great deal of action and terrific character development. The mystery of their where they obtained their powers, why they are being held and who is pursuing them and why is revealed skilfully. I never felt like the author was stringing me along; she lets the reader in on just enough, gradually, to keep readers eager for more without becoming irritatingly vague.
IF: Did you like the ending of the series?
BF: Loved it.
IF: You'd read the author again?
BF: I want to read absolutely everything she's written and I'm looking forward to her next series, as well. It's advertised in the back of the concluding novel, The Reckoning.
IF: What's your cutest kitty story, for today?
BF: Dude. Change of topic?
IF: Well, I was done asking you about the books.
BF: In that case . . . Isabel likes to play with water so I partially fill the bathroom sink when I'm putting on my makeup and she happily bats at the water, drinks it, inspects the faucet handles, etc. Today, she walked over to me, stretched up her body with her front paws on my chest and played with the zipper pull on my sweatshirt. I'm glad she didn't do that while I was putting on eyeliner. That could have been messy.
IF: Adorable. Wait! I do have one more question about the trilogy. How did you acquire the other two books in the series, after reading The Summoning?
BF: My library had a copy of The Awakening!!! Excitement! So, I checked out The Awakening, although they don't yet have The Reckoning and I ended up buying a copy from Borders. I love Borders with passionate fury.
IF: cough, sputter
BF: Well, I do.
IF: Anything else before I disappear? As if you can see me . . . I am invisible, after all.
BF: You look pretty solid to me, but I've been told I have a vivid imagination. Back to the books. I highly recommend the Darkest Powers Trilogy to paranormal-loving young adult fans. It's a family-friendly series, great for the youngsters, comfortable and meaty enough for adults -- definitely a series you can sink your teeth into and probably the most enjoyable paranormal series I've read.
BF: I think I just lost my invisible friend. Guess I'll go fill the bathtub and see how many kitties come to join me.
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