The Summoning (Darkest Powers Series #1)

The Summoning (Darkest Powers Series #1)

4.4 1296
by Kelley Armstrong

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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

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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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Chloe, the 15-year-old narrator of this opener in the Darkest Powers trilogy, Armstrong's (Women of the Otherworld series) first YA novel, hasn't seen ghosts since she was a little girl-until the day she finally gets her period and starts seeing ghosts everywhere. Almost immediately Chloe is sent to a small group home, Lyle House, and diagnosed as schizophrenic. Readers will forgive these familiar and even formulaic plot devices, however, given Armstrong's well-timed revelations of paranormal activity at Lyle House. What is the eminently sane Chloe to make of her new peers, especially the antisocial Derek and his foster brother, who offer their own diagnosis-that she is "supernatural" like them? Are they psychotic or scheming to get her in trouble, or could their idea help explain why certain disruptive teens are mysteriously transferred from Lyle, never to be heard from again? Drawing on elements dear to horror lovers (secretly buried corpses, evil doctors, werewolves, telekinesis), Armstrong adds a stylish degree of suspense. The ending, while still a cliffhanger, brings with it a chilling closure. Ages 12-up. (July)

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Children's Literature - Amalia Selle
As book one in the "Darkest Powers" series opens, Chloe Saunders is living an ordinary teenage life. Her day-to-day worries include boys and her own appearance. Everything changes when is confronted by the ghost of a janitor. Chloe panics. Her father and aunt are as convinced as everyone else that Chloe is seeing things that don't exist. Packed off to Lyle House, an upscale mental home for rich teenagers, Chloe half-convinces herself that her therapist is right in saying that she is a schizophrenic. Yet her uneasy relationship with the brothers Simon and Derek causes her to question the veracity of what she is being told. Is she a mental case? Or is she someone who can communicate with the dead? The surprising twist at the story's end promises a thrilling second book. This first book delivers excitement and mystery, yet manages to leave the reader with as many questions as they had at the start. This is a well done, although typical, ghost story. Reviewer: Amalia Selle
KLIATT - Janis Flint-Ferguson
High school student Chloe is having a mental breakdown. She thinks that she is seeing people whom no one else is able to see. More than that, she believes that she is seeing dead people. In the aftermath of her breakdown, her Aunt Lauren, a local doctor, arranges for her to go to a small group home for troubled teens. While there she begins to realize that it's true that she is able to see the dead people and they do have something to tell her. However, if she ever wants to leave Lyle House, she can't let too many people know what she sees and what she hears. The other students at Lyle House are an odd mix. Simon's only problem seems to be that he and his adopted brother Derek have been abandoned by their father. Derek is a big kid whose shadow looms large and who doesn't seem to know how to control his own strength. Chloe is afraid of him and he doesn't seem to like her much either; that is, until Liz has a psychotic seizure and is removed from the house. Something about that incident doesn't feel right to Chloe or to housemate Rae, who is there for starting fires. Tori is the last of the housemates and she seems to have a crush on Simon, though he does not return her attention. But all of these teens share something else, some supernatural powers. It becomes increasingly apparent that Lyle House is not the group home that it seems to be; it harbors a dark, secret past. This is the first of a proposed trilogy so it lays out the conflict and the characters for the volumes to come. By the end of the novel, there is enough suspense and uncertainty to have readers clamoring for volume two. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
VOYA - Domina Daughtrey
When fifteen-year-old, aspiring movie-director Chloe Saunders awakens one morning, startled after having a terrifying dream, she has no idea that her life is about to forever change. Chloe suddenly begins to see things that no one else can-ghosts. Although she tries to distract herself from these apparitions, Chloe realizes that she cannot escape them. After a ghost-related incident at school that causes faculty to restrain her, Chloe finds herself at Lyle House, a small mental facility for teenagers, under the premise that she is there for a two-week evaluation. At first, Chloe reluctantly accepts her diagnosis of schizophrenia, takes her medications, and works toward her release. As the days go by, however, Chloe realizes that actually things are not quite what they seem. Chloe not only uncovers the fact that she is not mentally ill but also that she is a necromancer. She comes to understand that the other teens at Lyle House have unearthly powers as well. After she and her friends from Lyle House run away, Chloe discovers even more truths-Lyle House is not the mental facility it appears to be and the one person she trusts the most has betrayed her. Suspenseful, well-written, and engaging, this page-turning Darkest Power series opener will be a hit with high school students. The plot thickens nearly perfectly with each chapter, and Armstrong leaves readers with an awesome cliffhanger ending that will have them climbing the walls for the sequel. Reviewer: Domina Daughtrey
School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up

A well-written opening to a paranormal series. Chloe, 15, has the ability to see dead people, but before she can figure out what is happening, she has a breakdown, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and placed in a group home. She befriends some of the teens at Lyle House and tries to accept her treatment. However, two of her more mysterious housemates suggest that maybe she isn't crazy. Derek tells her to look up necromancy on the Internet, and she finds out that it's the ability to communicate with the spirits of the dead. He appears to have superstrength, and his foster brother has magical powers. Chloe's roommate, who causes things to fly around the room when she becomes angry, is taken away to a hospital and never heard from again. When she returns in Chloe's visions, Chloe suspects foul play, a misgiving confirmed when the dead speak to her again and reveal that they were "supernaturals" who were experimented on, killed, and buried in the home's basement many years before. Together with her new friends, Chloe escapes Lyle House, only to be betrayed. This suspenseful novel sets up a secret underworld where some people support and help supernaturals, while others persecute them. Armstrong combines bits of horror, teen relationships, and a dash of mystery to create a page-turner. Readers will look forward to the next installment.-Corinda J. Humphrey, Los Angeles Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
After seeing a ghost in her school, Chloe Saunders arrives at the Lyle House, a home for troubled teens, but specters keep surfacing, causing her to question both her sanity and supposedly safe surroundings. Readers of Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series for adults will recognize a familiar landscape, occupied by a strong female narrator and tightly drawn supernaturals. Revelations come at a wonderfully measured pace, pulling readers deep into Chloe's psyche and a world where necromancers, werewolves and sorcerers struggle with humanity. All the Lyle House teens grapple with emerging supernatural powers, but the narrative discloses little, keeping readers guessing at their conditions until the heart of the novel. Difficult supernatural transformations align perfectly with teen experiences; after all, uncontrollable bodily changes and a fearful recognition of one's own power both comprise the scary journey to adulthood. Terrifying ghosts, smatterings of gore and diverse teen voices will prompt young adults to pick up the next in this series. Armstrong's nail-biter ending will, too: A failed escape attempt leaves Chloe imprisoned and attracted to two supernatural brothers. Teen readers might scream loud enough to raise the dead. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“...splendidly haunting, with hair-raising suspense, disturbing effects, and a running undercurrent of unease.”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Suspenseful, well-written and engaging.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"...splendidly haunting, with hair-raising suspense, disturbing effects, and a running undercurrent of unease."
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“...splendidly haunting, with hair-raising suspense, disturbing effects, and a running undercurrent of unease.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“...splendidly haunting, with hair-raising suspense, disturbing effects, and a running undercurrent of unease.”
From the Publisher
Praise for Kelley Armstrong:
“Witty and original. She’s at her best when examining the all-too-human dilemmas of being superhuman.” The Globe and Mail

“[No Humans Involved is] hard-to-put-down entertainment.” Booklist

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Product Details

Publication date:
Darkest Powers Series, #1
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

12 years earlier...

Mommy forgot to warn the new baby-sitter about the basement.

Chloe teetered on the top step, chubby hands reaching up to clutch both railings, her arms shaking so much she could barely hang on. Her legs shook too, the Scooby Doo heads on her slippers bobbing. Even her breath shook, puffing like she’d been running.

“Chloe?” Emily’s muffled voice drifted up from the dark basement. “Your mom said the
Coke’s in the cold cellar, but I can’t find it. Can you come down and help me?”

Mommy said she’d told Emily about the basement. Chloe was sure of it. She closed her eyes and thought hard. Before Mommy and Daddy left for the party, she’d been playing in the TV
room. Mommy had called, and Chloe had run into the front hall where Mommy had scooped her up in a hug, laughing when Chloe’s doll poked her eye.

“I see you’re playing with Princess–I mean, Pirate Jasmine. Has she rescued poor Aladdin from the evil genie yet?”

Chloe shook her head, then whispered. “Did you tell Emily about the basement?”

“I most certainly did. No basements for Miss Chloe. That door stays closed.” When Daddy came around the corner, Mommy said, “We really need to talk about moving, Steve.”

“Say the word and the sign goes up.” Daddy ruffled Chloe’s hair. “Be good for Emily,

And then they were gone.

“Chloe, I know you can hear me,” Emily yelled.

Chloe peeled her fingers from the railing and stuck them in her ears.


“I c-can’t go down there,” Chloe called. “I-I’ m not allowed.”

“Well, I’m in charge and I say you are. You’re a big girl.”

Chloe made her feet move down one step. The back of her throat hurt and everything looked fuzzy, like she was going to cry.

“Chloe Saunders, you have five seconds or I’ll drag you down here and lock the door.”

Chloe raced down the steps so fast her feet tangled and she tumbled into a heap on the landing. She lay there, ankle throbbing, tears burning her eyes as she peered into the basement,
with its creaks and smells and shadows. And Mrs. Hobb.

There’d been others, before Mrs. Hobb scared them away. Like old Mrs. Miller, who’d play peek-a-boo with Chloe and call her Mary. And Mr. Drake, who’d ask weird questions like whether anyone lived on the moon yet, and most times Chloe didn’t know the answer, but he’d still smile and tell her she was a good girl.

Chloe used to like coming downstairs and talking to the people. All she had to do was not look behind the furnace, where a man hung from the ceiling, his face all purple and puffy. He never said anything, but seeing him always made Chloe’s tummy hurt.

“Chloe?” Emily’s muffled voice called. “Are you coming?”

Mommy would say “Think about the good parts, not the bad.” So as Chloe walked down the last three steps, she remembered Mrs. Miller and Mr. Drake and she didn’t think about Mrs.
Hobb at all . . . or not very much.

At the bottom, she squinted into the near darkness. Just the night lights were on, the ones
Mommy had put everywhere when Chloe started saying she didn’t want to go downstairs and
Mommy thought she was afraid of the dark, which she was, a little, but only because the dark meant Mrs. Hobb could sneak up on her.

Chloe could see the cold cellar door, though, so she kept her eyes on that and walked as fast as she could. When something moved, she forgot about not looking, but it was only the hanging man, and all she could see was his hand peeking from behind the furnace as he swayed.

Chloe ran to the cold cellar door and yanked it open. Inside, it was pitch black.

“Chloe?” Emily called from the darkness.

Chloe clenched her fists. Now Emily was being really mean. Hiding on her–
Footsteps pattered overhead. Mommy? Home already?

“Come on, Chloe. You aren’t afraid of the dark, are you?” Emily laughed. “I guess you’re still a little baby after all.”

Chloe scowled. Emily didn’t know anything. Just a stupid, mean girl. Chloe would get her
Coke, then run upstairs and tell Mommy, and Emily would never baby-sit her again.

She leaned into the tiny room, trying to remember where Mommy kept the Coke. That was it on the shelf, wasn’t it? She darted over, and stood on her tiptoes. Her fingers closed around a cool metal can.

“Chloe? Chloe!” It was Emily’s voice, but far away, shrill. Footsteps pounded across the floor overhead. “Chloe, where are you?”

Chloe dropped the can. It hit the concrete with a crack, then rolled against her foot, hissing and spitting, soda pooling around her slippers.

“Chloe, Chloe, where are you?” mimicked a voice behind her, like Emily’s, but not quite.

Chloe turned slowly.

In the doorway stood an old woman in a pink housecoat, her eyes and teeth glittering in the dark. Mrs. Hobb. Chloe wanted to squeeze her eyes shut, but she didn’t dare because it only made her madder, made everything worse.

Mrs. Hobb’s skin rippled and squirmed. Then it went black and shiny, crackling like twigs in a campfire. Big chunks fell off, plopping onto the floor. Her hair sizzled and burned away.
And then there was nothing left but a skull dotted with scraps of blackened flesh. The jaws opened, the teeth still glittering.

“Welcome back, Chloe.”


I bolted up in bed, one hand clutching my pendant, the other wrapped in my sheets. I struggled to recapture wisps of the dream already fluttering away. Something about a basement . . . A little girl . . . Me? I couldn’t remember ever having a basement–we’d always lived in condo apartments.

A little girl in a basement, something scary . . . Weren’t basements always scary? I shivered just thinking about them, dark and damp and empty. But this one hadn’t been empty. There’d been . . . I couldn’t remember what. A man behind a furnace . . .?

A bang at my bedroom door made me jump.

“Chloe!” Annette shrieked. “Why hasn’t your alarm gone off? I’m the housekeeper, not your nanny. If you’re late again, I’m calling your father.”

As threats went, this wasn’t exactly the stuff of nightmares. Even if Annette managed to get hold of my dad in Berlin, he’d just pretend to listen, eyes on his BlackBerry, attention riveted to something more important, like the weather forecast. He’d murmur a vague “Yes, I’ll see to it when I get back” and forget all about me the moment he hung up.

I turned on my radio, cranked it up, and crawled out of bed.

A half-hour later, I was in my bathroom, getting ready for school. I pulled the sides of my hair back in clips, glanced in the mirror, and shuddered. The style made me look twelve years old . . .
and I didn’t need any help. I’d just turned fifteen and servers still handed me the kiddie menu in restaurants. I couldn’t blame them. I was five foot nothing with curves that only showed if I wore tight jeans and a tighter T-shirt.

Aunt Lauren swore I’d shoot up–and out–when I finally got my period. By this point, I
figured it was “if,” not “when.” Most of my friends had gotten theirs at twelve, eleven even. I
tried not to think about it too much, but of course I did. I worried that there was something wrong with me, felt like a freak every time my friends talked about their periods, prayed they didn’ t find out I hadn’t gotten mine. Aunt Lauren said I was fine, and she was a doctor, so I
guess she’d know. But it still bugged me. A lot.

“Chloe!” The door shuddered under Annette’s meaty fist.

“I’m on the toilet,” I shouted back. “Can I get some privacy maybe?”

I tried just one clip at the back of my head, holding the sides up. Not bad. When I turned my head for a side view, the clip slid from my baby-fine hair.

I never should have gotten it cut. But I’d been sick of having long, straight, little-girl hair. I’d decided on a shoulder-length, wispy style. On the model it looked great. On me? Not so much.
I eyed the unopened hair color tube. Kari swore red streaks would be perfect in my strawberry-blond hair. I couldn’t help thinking I’d look like a candy cane. Still, it might make me look older . . .

“I’m picking up the phone, Chloe,” Annette yelled.

I grabbed the tube of dye, stuffed it in my backpack, and threw open the door.

I took the stairs, as always. The building might change, but my routine never did. The day I’d started kindergarten, my mother held my hand, my Sailor Moon backpack over her other arm as we’d stood at the top of the landing.

“Get ready, Chloe,” she’d said. “One, two, three–”

And we were off, racing down the stairs until we reached the bottom, panting and giggling,
the floor swaying and sliding under our unsteady feet, all the fears over my first school day gone.
We’d run down the stairs together every morning all though kindergarten and half of first grade and then . . . well, then there wasn’t anyone to run down the stairs with anymore.

I paused at the bottom, touching the necklace under my T-shirt, then shook off the memories,
hoisted my backpack, and walked from the stairwell.

After my mom died, we’d moved around Buffalo a lot. My dad flipped luxury apartments,
meaning he bought them in buildings in the final stages of construction, then sold them when the work was complete. Since he was away on business most of the time, putting down roots wasn’t important. Not for him, anyway.

This morning, the stairs hadn’t been such a bright idea. My stomach was already fluttering with nerves over my Spanish midterm. I’d screwed up the last test–gone to a weekend sleepover at Beth’s when I should have been studying–and barely passed. Spanish had never been my best subject, but if I didn’t pull it up to a C, Dad might actually notice and start wondering whether an art school had been such a smart choice.

Milos was waiting for me in his cab at the curb. He’d been driving me for two years now,
through two moves and three schools. As I got in, he adjusted the visor on my side. The morning sun still hit my eyes, but I didn’t tell him that.

My stomach relaxed as I rubbed my fingers over the familiar rip in the armrest and inhaled chemical pine from the air freshener twisting above the vent.

“I saw a movie last night,” he said as he slid the cab across three lanes. “One of the kind you like.”

“A thriller?”

“No.” He frowned, lips moving as if testing out word choices. “An action-adventure. You know, lots of guns, things blowing up. A real shoot-’em-down movie.”

I hated correcting Milos’ s English, but he insisted on it. “You mean, a shoot-’em-up movie.”

He cocked one dark brow. “When you shoot a man, which way does he fall? Up?”

I laughed, and we talked about movies for a while. My favorite subject.

When Milos had to take a call from his dispatcher, I glanced out the side window. A
long-haired boy darted from behind a cluster of businessmen. He carried an old-fashioned plastic lunch box with a superhero on it. I was so busy trying to figure out which superhero it was, I
didn’ t notice where the boy was headed until he leaped off the curb, landing between us and the next car.

“Milos!” I screamed. “Watch–”

The last word was ripped from my lungs as I slammed against my shoulder belt. The driver behind us, and the one behind him, laid on their horns, a chain reaction of protest.

“What?” Milos said. “Chloe? What’s wrong?”

I looked over the hood of the car and saw . . . nothing. Just an empty lane in front and traffic veering to our left, drivers flashing Milos the finger as they passed.

“Th-th-th–” I clenched my fists, as if that could somehow force the word out. If you get jammed, take another route, my speech therapist always said. “I thought I saw some-wha-wha–”

Speak slowly. Consider your words first.

“I’m sorry. I thought I saw someone jump in front of us.”

Milos eased the taxi forward. “That happens to me sometimes, especially if I’m turning my head. I think I see someone, but there’s no one there.”

I nodded. My stomach hurt again.

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