As the weather has begun to finally cool off, I have been in a serious mood for fall. Snickerdoodles, pumpkin cream cold brew and, of course, spooky reads. I immediately chose The Summoning by J.P Smith and it was exactly what my mood ordered.
The concept of the novel drew me right in: Kit, an out of work actress turned con woman, who uses the obituaries to fuel her business as a medium. However, something begins to change, and Kit starts to feel unsettled as her seances begin to feel more real. As the tagline for the novel states, when it comes to contacting the dead, it’s easy to go a step too far.
I am usually hesitant with any type of paranormal thriller since it is very easy for the plot to become a.) too convoluted b.) too far-fetched and hokey or c.) a quick start with a disappointing ending. I was pleased to find out that this novel had none of those issues.
Smith chooses to lay out the story with a multi-perspective narration that was really was a treat. Between Kit’s inner workings of her business and her panic as things begin to unravel, and the police who are zoning in and then surprised to find themselves wrapped up in something paranormal, I was completely engaged. The novel is definitely more of a slower burn at the beginning and, to be honest, I didn’t find Kit very likeable initially; however, this characterization is exactly what made me want to keep reading. I am always in awe at authors who can create characters that make me feel conflicted, and I absolutely had a strong reaction to Kit. For such a short read (coming in at around 300 pages), I was expecting the story to be fairly straightforward. However, I was wrong. I was pleased with Smith’s ability to keep me guessing and was genuinely shocked by the ending.
This read just felt like fall and, to me, that is one of the highest compliments. I’d absolutely recommend this one.
Does anyone else seem to be suckered into popular book recommendations? Oprah suggests it? Sure. On a list from the New York Times? Seems legit to me? Reese Witherspoon gives it her stamp of approval? Sign me up! That is how I came to read We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz.
Essentially, the novel follows a pair of BFFs, Emily and Kristen, on their yearly backpacking trip to Chile. All is going well until Emily arrives back to her hotel room and finds her friend covered in blood with the backpacker she had been flirting with dead on the floor. Shockingly, this isn’t the first time this has happened. From here, we get insight into Emily’s trauma and a seriously bad vibe about Kristen.
Having never read the author’s previous books, I was really pleased to find out I enjoyed the writing style of Bartz; I felt like she had a nice flow and I was able to get into the story pretty much immediately. It was a very quick read; I was able to binge it fairly quickly. Which was lucky for me since I had to have it read for my book club and I have a six month old baby, so my time is scarce! The concept of the book had me intrigued, however, the characters left much to be desired. I didn’t really care about either girl. They were both pretty unlikeable- which I guess was the point. Both gave me the same type of Gone Girl vibes as Amy. Manipulative, edgy and surely a threat.
Now, while I enjoyed the writing style and the intentional character flaws, I really did this there was a TON of repetition in this book that was not necessary. I feel like it could have been 100 pages shorter and still have had the same effect. I found myself skimming some paragraphs or finding myself become disengaged with the story because it just felt like I had read something similar the chapter prior. I also found the ending to be very abrupt and rushed.
Overall, it was a quick read, but not my favourite.