The Reckoning (Review)

Title: The Reckoning

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 391

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

In the end, there’s always a reckoning.

Chloe Saunders’s life is not what you would call normal. First of all, she can’t figure out how she feels about a certain antisocial werewolf or his charming brother — who just happens to be a sorcerer. Then there’s the fact that she’s running for her life from an evil corporation that’s trying to kill her and her supernatural friends. And finally, she’s a genetically altered necromancer who can raise the dead, rotting corpses and all, without even trying.

Not normal.

But Chloe has a plan. And the end is very near.

(This is the third and final book in the series, after The Summoning and The Awakening.)

The beginning of this book follows in the tradition of the rest of the series: action-packed and full of the promise of a great escape. Intrigue and betrayal, harrowing near-captures and daring rescues. About halfway through, though, the pace just … shifts.

To be honest, I found this a kind of unsatisfactory end to the series. Yes, many of the loose ends are tied up, but not everything. It felt like an incomplete ending. There could be another book afterwards, easily, to continue the story … and yet there isn’t. That’s just where it ends. And it feels unfulfilling.


The Awakening (Review)

Title: The Awakening

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publication Year: 2009

Pages: 368

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

You don’t have to be alive to be awakened.

Chloe Saunders is a living science experiment — not only can she see ghosts, but she was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group. She’s a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control, which means she can raise the dead without even trying. Now Chloe’s running for her life with three of her supernatural friends — a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch — and they have to find someone who can help them before the Edison Group catches them.

Or die trying.

(This is the second book in the series, after The Summoning.)

After the character and plot revelations of the last book, this one was quite different. It was way more action-packed and focused on the escape attempt – and, obviously, capture attempts – than the previous book. It shines a bit more light on what the Edison Group has done to try to alter the powers of the supernaturals they are working with, and really set the scene for Chloe’s rebellion against them.

The Awakening was a good “middle book” in the trilogy. It explored the teenagers’ interactions and powers a bit, while not closing off all of the loose ends. Definitely a good setup for the final book.


The Summoning (Review)

Title: The Summoning

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publication Year: 2008

Pages: 390

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don’t even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost — and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won’t leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a “special home” for troubled teens. Yet the home isn’t what it seems. Don’t tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It’s up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House . . . before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy lately, but this is the first series that I’ve picked up that had anything to do with ghosts. It’s not usually something I’m all that interested in, but I’ve heard lots of positive things about Armstrong’s books over the years, and I figured I’d give them a shot.

The Summoning does a great job at making the reader unsure of what’s going on at first. You want to believe that Chloe is seeing ghosts, but then she’s diagnosed as mentally ill, as schizophrenic, and her “symptoms” seem to go away with medication. But that’s can’t really be the reason, can it? I found it an interesting take on things, something that isn’t usually touched on in fantasy novels. Plus, there’s the aspect of the book where there are multiple kinds of supernaturals, which also isn’t that big of a thing. I kind of like it, but at the same time, it makes the story a bit scattered. Why would all these different kinds of supes be in the same place? No spoilers, but it does eventually make sense. And eventually, I had a bit of a soft spot for more of the characters than just Chloe.

While this wasn’t the best modern-world fantasy novel I’ve read recently, it was still quite interesting. Something a little bit out of the ordinary, a little bit different. It’s also less romance-focused than most, which was kind of refreshing. If you’re looking for a coming-of-age book that includes supernatural elements, The Summoning might be just what you need.


The Iron Knight (Review)

Title: The Iron Knight

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publication Year: 2011

Pages: 400

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

My name — my True Name — is Ashallayn’darkmyr Tallyn. I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her. My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…

To cold faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase — a half human, half fey slip of a girl — smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the unwelcome company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end — a quest to find a way to honor his vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron Realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. And along the way Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

(This is the fourth book in the series, after The Iron King, Winter’s Passage (novella), The Iron DaughterThe Iron Queen, and Summer’s Crossing (novella).)

I think that this was my favourite book of the series so far. Not that I don’t find Meghan’s story interesting – I do – but there’s something about a boy going to the ends of the earth to make things work with a girl that breaks the mould of most YA narratives just enough to interest me.

What’s more, there’s a certain level of awesomeness achieved by the bromance/faux-hatred between Ash and Puck in this book that really kept me turning the pages. I know the trend is for falling-in-love stories in YA, and that’s fine, but there’s something to be said for exploring complicated relationships between friends that remain just that: friendships.

The Iron Knight ties up some loose ends in the series, but also creates some others to be dealt with. For starters, what will things be like if Ash does manage to give up his fae-hood? How will his relationship with Meghan change then?


Summer’s Crossing (Review)

Title: Summer’s Crossing

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publication Year: 2011

Pages: 51

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Source: E-book borrowed from the public library

From the cover:

Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Summer Court prankster, King Oberon’s right hand, bane of many a faery queen’s existence — and secret friend to Prince Ash of the Winter Court. Until one girl’s death came between them, and another girl stole both their hearts.

Now Ash has granted one favor too many and someone’s come to collect, forcing the prince to a place he cannot go without Puck’s help — into the heart of the Summer Court. And Puck faces the ultimate choice — betray Ash and possibly win the girl they both love, or help his former friend turned bitter enemy pull off a deception that no true faery prankster could possibly resist.

(This is a novella in the Iron Fey series, after The Iron King, Winter’s Passage (novella), The Iron Daughter, and The Iron Queen.)

As in the earlier novella in this series, the events of Summer’s Crossing aren’t completely essential to the overall plot of the series. However, it’s still an entertaining addition.

The antics of Ash and Puck get a little crazier in this story, but their friendship really shines through, even when Ash is expressing his “hatred” for Puck. And when it seems as though it might be in Puck’s best interest to give in to this “hate” and return it, it was entertaining to see the different sides of his personality warring.

In the end, the plot events are less important in this novella. Instead, it’s once again the relationships between characters that make this a great addition to the series for me.


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