Almost a exactly a year ago, I read the first and second books in The Keeper Chronicles. Now we conclude this trilogy with Long Hot Summoning. Tanya Huff increases the role of Claire’s younger sister, Diana, giving her a Summoning of her own and more responsibility for saving the world. It’s a fresh and fun adventure with much of the charm but also most of the flaws of the first two books. Also, the cover art is very DAW and very early 2000s and quite honestly I love it.
Diana has graduated high school, which officially means she is an active Keeper. She couldn’t be more thrilled. Her first Summoning comes as she walks out of high school on her last day, and it takes her to familiar territory: Kingston. Normally Claire’s domain, this Summoning requires the most powerful Keeper—and as the second child, that’s Diana. Along with Claire and their respective cats (Sam, a former angel; and Austin, a curmudgeon of a cat if ever there was one), they need to stop an evil shopping mall from manifesting in this dimension.
I enjoyed this much more than Second Summoning. I’m not sure if I just prefer Diana’s perspective to Claire’s or if the new main character just made things more interesting. This book is also less frenetic in setting than Second Summoning was: most of it takes place in the mall (albeit a distorted, Otherside version thereof), with secondary scenes back at Claire’s bed and breakfast. There’s also less snarky Hell banter, which I think helps as well.
I still struggled with the constant low-level horniness of all the characters. On the one hand, I don’t want to pan the book too much for this because, hey, normalize female protagonists being horny on main (including Diana, who is very obviously queer in this book, yay!). On the other hand, as a sex-averse aro/ace gal, the background horniness does little for me and is, if anything, a distraction.
As with the previous books, the way that Hell manifests as a general nefarious force that slowly aggregates its sentience into a single being is an interesting concept on paper but a less interesting concept … well, on paper. The book lacks a strong antagonist, and while we are constantly told that the stakes are high and the Otherside winning would be Bad, it never really seems to manifest. At the same time, the mummy subplot involving Dean, while fun, also feels very trite and predictable.
I am working my around to this opinion of Tanya Huff as an author: I really like her sense of humour and her writing, but I don’t know that I actually love her books all that much? Like I heartily recommend her to other people but I can’t call her one of my personal faves—and I guess that’s all right.
Not as good as the Gale Women series in terms of story, stakes, or characterization. But still a fun, undemanding read for a weekend on the deck.