The Summoning by E.E. Richardson
|The Summoning by E.E. Richardson|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A gripping and quick read of teenagers who invoke a demonic spirit. The resulting adventure is a little predictable in places but still much better than one might expect.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: March 2008|
|Publisher: Corgi Childrens|
You may be looking for the similarly named The Summoning (Darkest Powers 1) by Kelley Armstrong.
If you're going to try and live in your grandfather's footsteps, it is perhaps better that he not be a spiritualist, and yourself a light-fingered fan who is willing to steal a great, ancient magic tome from his collection, and use the spell within to summons a demonic spirit. You know you won't like what results.
Unless you're Justin, of course. You and your best friend, the slightly daffy Trevor, your school's perfect model swat of unlikableness, Daniel, and your own sister, Joy, are the perfect models to help you purloin an unused tennis court for an experiment that gives both the ideal and most unwanted result. Living in those older footsteps will be done at a full run from then on.
The beginning of the book, therefore, is quite standard – boy gets magic artefact, tries it out, causes major worry. It's still a superior model of the genre, however – the characters have nicely toned down and realistic conflicts, for one, and the summonsing scene is well done – the scientist having to create the ideal chalk circle, the hangers-on getting cold and bored, until… And the poise with which the real threat is revealed is great, perfectly allowing anything and everything to follow – and leaving us with no clue as to what might happen, in that slight pause between chapters.
And what does happen is both different and better to what I might have expected. Different in that the threat is a lot more subtle than I would have considered writing it, with a good sense of the spooky and measured that brings the willies out in the reader. Better too in that although some of the sense of impending doom might be too much down to the youths' own-set deadline, there is still a sense of anxiety, and the unknown within, and with a whole mysterious back story that needs revealing the book provides a gentle but effective grist to its thrills.
All the while the scenes are perfectly well written – so much of the final third is the climactic set piece and it all works brilliantly, as does the nicely-judged level of threat offered earlier by the demon's manipulative pest control. The characters, of whatever age and era, are finely defined, and the whole adventure is brought to vivid life, with a great cinematic result in the reader's mind's eye. At the same time this, and the subtle (if over-used) way of avoiding swear words, allows the reader of whatever age to have the scares she or he deserves – there is neither anything too strong and blatantly suggestive for anyone over the age of ten, nor any sense of things being pulled back for the young audience the book readily deserves.
The book is a slight read in the end – the page count may well be over 300 but they're very small pages when all's told – but a satisfying one. For a self-contained horror adventure for the 11+ age bracket (why the leads are GCSE-age I never could work out), The Summoning provides a very nice entertainment. It loses a little bit of a mark here are there for being a little predictable, and for some unevenness in level of threat, but for a sustained and palatable horror for the young it gets an easily justified Bookbag recommendation.
The Summoning by E.E. Richardson is in the Top Ten Books For Children Who Love To Be Scared Silly.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Summoning by E.E. Richardson at Amazon.com.
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