The Summoning(Darkest Powers, Book One)written by Kelley ArmstrongDoubleday Canada, 2008978-0-385-66534-6 (pb) $16.95for Grades 8 and upThe Awakening(Darkest Powers, Book Two)written by Kelley ArmstrongDoubleday Canada, 2009978-0-385-66535-3 (pb) $16.95for Grades 8 and upFiction – Fantasy – Science and Magic
Sorcerers, witches, and werewolves – these are the common characters in teen fiction these days, and all are to be found in Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers series. Armstrong’s series, however, features a protagonist with different and unique abilities. Meet Chloe – Necromancer. In the series’ first novel, The Summoning, Chloe discovers that she can see, communicate with, and even raise and control the dead. Yet, the adults around her convince her that she is suffering from schizophrenia and she is sent to Lyle House, a home for teens with mental illnesses. There she meets a group of kids who also have their own secrets to keep, none of which concern illnesses. Stepbrothers Simon and Derek seem to know what is really going on in Lyle House but, while Simon is willing to share their secrets with Chloe by admitting that he is a Sorcerer, Derek is cautious. Then there are Tori, Liz and Rae: girls who might just be ordinary teens with mental health issues – or not. One thing Chloe can be certain of is that she has to be careful whom she trusts.
The Summoning ends with a shocking betrayal, which leaves Chloe and her friends on the run. In the beginning of the second book, The Awakening, Chloe learns that Lyle House is owned by the Edison Group, a faction of people out to “improve” the lives of Supernaturals through genetic enhancements. Chloe and her band of friends are the failed science experiments conducted by the Edison Group, which plans to correct its mistakes by exterminating the runaways. Derek and Simon know a man, Andrew Carson, who might be able to help them so their journey as fugitives across the state of New York begins. Old friends become traitors, and new friends are made as Chloe starts a tentative truce with the witch, Tori. At the same time, Chloe begins to get to know Derek, the awkward young werewolf who always seems to be angry, and yet, always watches out for her. .
Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers series is gripping, with a fresh story that mixes magic with science. She entrances the reader with her character development and the interactions between these characters. In addition to the fast-paced, thrill-packed storyline, there is also a measure of chills – after all, Chloe can see the dead. The Summoning and The Awakening are perfect for readers of 13 and up who enjoy fantasy and adventure, with a hint of romance. Armstrong’s books definitely leave the reader “dying” for more.
Reviewed by Ming Taubman
Check the summer 2010 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News, due out in August, for the review of Kelley Armstrong’s third book in the Darkest Powers series, The Reckoning.