Review: “Long Hot Summoning,” Tanya Huff

Pros: Tense, engaging storyline; our favorite characters plus a few new ones
Cons: Some missing consequences
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

 

Long Hot Summoning is the third volume of of The Keeper Chronicles (you can find all three books together in The Complete Keeper Chronicles). Book one is Summon the Keeper; book two is The Second Summoning.

Long Hot Summoning finds Claire’s younger (and more powerful) sister Diana getting her first Summoning as an active Keeper. She and her talking cat Sam (who used to be an angel) set out for the local mall to see what’s going wrong. There they find a segue, a place where the forces of darkness are trying to overlap the Otherside and the real world such that there will be free and easy passage between the two, releasing–one more time–Hell on earth. She’s going to need the help of Claire, Dean, and Claire’s talking cat Austin if she wants to put a stop to the evil plans afoot.

I didn’t spend such a large percentage of the book this time cackling maniacally over the incessant humor, but that’s because I was wrapped up in the all-too-engaging storyline. Don’t fear: there’s still plenty of fun.

The circles of light that overlapped throughout the parking lot had all been touched with red, creating a sinister–although faintly cliched–effect. At just past nine, with the mall officially closed, the acres of crimson-tinted asphalt were empty of everything but half a dozen…

“Minivans. It’s worse than I thought.”

This time Claire and Diana have to do most of their fighting on the Otherside, where there are many Rules that must not be broken. They don’t have access to most of their power, and so they have to enlist the locals–a bunch of elves in hockey armor and an anime version of the Immortal King Arthur–to help them defeat the all-too-familiar enemy. The power of belief is key here, but the subconscious mind can screw a Keeper over in a heartbeat. Just to add to the panic, Dean remained behind at the guest house, where he and Austin are dealing with a life-sucking mummy that’s lying in wait for Claire.

I found it easy to get caught up in the life-and-death struggle at the mall. The elves have a certain poignancy to them, and there are plenty of new side characters who make things complicated, sweet, hilarious, frustrating, etc. I loved seeing how the Otherside works, with its odd effects on the flow of time, its beasties and bad guys, its archetypal heroes, and the Rules that the archetypes have to follow. After all, if one side breaks a Rule, then the other side can too–and then everything goes pear-shaped.

There is one case of a Rule being broken where I felt it lacked quite the consequence-teeth that it should have. On the other hand it wasn’t a massive break, and the characters did find a clever way around the consequences it did have. Hard to say. Not a big deal, but mildly confusing.

All in all, this is a wonderful conclusion to the Keeper Chronicles. It’s funny, sweet, tense, engaging, and a sheer delight to read.

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