Review: “The Second Summoning,” Tanya Huff

Pros: Funny, hilarious, silly, amusing, entertaining, laugh-a-minute, whimsical, playful, absurd…
Cons: Occasionally a little too surreal
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

 

The Second Summoning is book two of The Keeper Chronicles (you can find all three books packaged together in The Complete Keeper Chronicles). I would not recommend reading these books out of order, but then it’s a trilogy instead of one of today’s endless series, and you can get the whole thing in one volume, so that isn’t a negative–just a warning. In this installment, Claire, Dean, and Austin (the cat) are having relationship troubles. Dean wants to be with Claire, but he’s having trouble getting a word in edgewise. Claire wants to be with Dean, but she’s putting her calling as a mystical Keeper above him. As for Austin, he just wants his two humans to stop being such idiots. Thanks to the meddling of Claire’s ridiculously powerful younger sister Diana, as well as the strength of the feelings between Claire and Dean, an angel and a demon have manifested in the world. There’s just one, not-so-small problem: angels and demons are supposed to be sexless, and these two, thanks to a colossal misunderstanding occurring during the angel’s manifestation, have gender. That little flaw is enough to allow the world to start corrupting them. Now all of our heroes have to fix the metaphysical ‘accidents’ caused by the problem, stop the demon from loosing Hell on earth (naturally), and figure out: what do you do with an angel and a demon who are beset by teenage hormones?

 

The Second Summoning is every bit as funny as Summon the Keeper. It ranges from sly humor to Mel Brooks-like slapstick, and once again the cats are giving me strange looks because I’ve been laughing out loud in an empty house.

WE ARE THE HEART OF DARKNESS; YOU CANNOT PREVAIL.
“Can too.”
“Diana, don’t argue with Hell.”

My only minor difficulty is that the humor occasionally gets quite surreal in this one, partially thanks to Diana’s sheer power level and the super-thinness of the fabric of reality in certain areas (meaning that reality doesn’t just bend in some places–it breaks, and oh the metaphors and euphemisms go strange when that happens). The only problem with this is that sometimes I got a bit confused as to what, exactly, was actually happening.

As for the relationship between Dean and Claire: normally I hate “I must protect you by leaving you!” angst, because it’s almost never really believable. In this case, however, Claire’s more-Keeper-than-thou arrogance, as well as the way in which everything unfolds, make it believable. Also, Huff doesn’t try to drag it out over the entire book the way some authors would, instead finding plenty of other ways to keep the relationship dynamic and troublesome.

The characters are wonderful. Claire manages to be arrogant without being unlikable. Diana manages to be a rebellious teenager without being stupid. Dean is still obsessed with cleanliness–and yet he isn’t reduced to just that quirk. Instead he’s absolutely endearing. Add to that a couple of annoying teenagers (Samuel, the angel, and Byleth, the demon) who exude confused awkwardness on steroids, not to mention the aging and increasingly cranky Austin, and you have a recipe for hilarity.

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