I’ve been wanting to dig into Mckayla Eaton’s writing for a while, so I jumped on the chance to receive an e-ARC of her debut novel, SUMMONED. What I discovered was a fun fantasy, though subtly-layered in the tradition of YA. Set up as the first of THE DEMON SUMMONER trilogy, Eaton has made an engrossing addition to the shelves of coming-of-age, YA fantasies.
Alton is seventeen and bored. He wished he had a tutor that he could actually present a challenge to his wits and abilities. Then Professor Victor Orvius shows up late one night and recruits Alton as his student, the only condition is that Alton has to follow his rules and he will teach him magic without the usual limits. Naturally, Alton jumps on this opportunity, but soon finds himself not the sole student of the mysterious Professor.
Enter Reagan, a brash young witch, who has a talent for being abrasive and sarcasm. Alton, like any teenage boy who sees a pretty girl, is star struck, but is immediately met with her barbed tongue and aggressive use of magic. They clash and are consistent rivals until there is a far greater threat than their schoolhouse scruples, a demon has been summoned.
Not only has one been summoned, but it threatens their very lives. If Alton and Reagan cannot overcome their differences and get along, they may not get out of this alive or risk being trapped in the demon realm forever.
Sitting down to read Eaton’s debut, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it reads. Alton is relatable as a main character, despite being a somewhat navel-gazing teenager. The beginning stars with an almost “Harry Potter” feel, which depending on how you feel about HP, will cause you to chuckle or cringe when Eaton gives a small nod in homage.
The plot begins to take shape once Reagan is introduced and you can’t help, but appreciate her angsty, rebellious nature. Orvius is one of the better contributions who straddles being a Dumbldore/Snape-esque character, while also maintaining some more distance from his two students.
Eaton manages to throw plenty of fun humor and the banter between Alton and Reagan is always engaging, and the magic is rife with imagination, while still following some classic “rules.” The main beats of this book do become peak points, while some of the transitions from action to more action, often can feel more like filler than genuine plot progression. These transitions are sometimes interspersed with character development, especially with Alton as he reflects, though he often remains too much in his own head rather than acting on it. Maybe that’s part of what Eaton is attempting to portray, but it’s pure speculation on my part.
The book’s climax and ending are somewhat stilted, because of this being the first book in a series, while also pulling double duty of laying groundwork for later entries. This may leave some readers scratching their head, but Eaton is sure to deliver a last line or two that really make you want to revisit Alton, Reagan, and Orvis.
So, if you’re a fan of Harry Dresden, Harry Potter, or teachers of magic in general, this would be a great pick for your next read!
It is being released on September 3rd from The Parliament House Press.