June 25, 2014

Review: Summoned

Summoned Book One of Redemption's Heir
By Anne M. Pillsworth
Available now from Tor Teen (Macmillan)
Review copy

Fascinated by the Cthulhu Mythos, Sean Wyndham goes with his best friend to an occult bookshop to find a book about the mythology.  While there, he discovers a strange ad from hundreds of years ago asking for an apprentice - to apply by email.  When he answers, he's given a ritual as a test.  But Sean messes it up and unleashes a predator upon his town - one that only he can banish.

At first, SUMMONED annoyed me.  I think the Cthulhu stuff is great fun, but I really dislike it when authors treat it as something that was around before Lovecraft.  For some reason trying to force it into reality like that gives me unpleasant thoughts of Scientology.  And, well, I thought Sean was super dumb for getting involved with a guy who got his power through Nyarlathotep.  I mean, you don't have to read that much to know that's a power you don't want to get involved with.

But then Sean actually summoned the Servitor, and I got sucked into SUMMONED.  The ensuing adventure involves blood, insanity, stores that aren't really there, monsters that aren't really there, and monsters that are unfortunately actually there.  There are lots of grade-A horror scenes in this novel, no "for YA" disclaimer needed.  (I will note that I am not particularly sensitive to violence towards animals, but there was a scene that I found very upsetting.)

I appreciated that Sean had an involved, concerned father.  It was a convincingly close father-son relationship that still got the father out of the way long enough to allow bad things to happen.  I also liked that SUMMONED splits the point of view between Sean and a twenty-something woman who is also discovering her own power.  There were a few too many secondary characters for all of them to get much development, but there is time for that given sequels are on their way.

As I read, I even started to enjoy the conceit that the Mythos was real and something that Lovecraft had actually experience before writing it down.  Plus, debut author Anne M. Pillsworth's homage was expertly done.  You don't need to be familiar with Lovecraft's stories to enjoy SUMMONED, but I felt that she got to the heart of the terror wonderfully.

SUMMONED is a terrific little horror adventure.  I'm excited to know that more books about Sean are on their way, but gratified that SUMMONED stands just fine on its own.


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