Chloe Saunders is following her dreams at art school. She is striving to become a director and is finally becoming a "normal" teenager, except for the fact that she is a bit behind developmentally. Weird things start happening to her as she gets closer to puberty and ultimately, she suffers a breakdown of sorts from seeing ghosts. Being that she completely freaked out at school, her Aunt Lauren enrolls her in Lyle House, which is a reputable group home that will help Chloe recover. Her aunt plays a major role in her life since her mother passed away and her father is extremely busy working in Washington D.C. While at Lyle House, the doctors diagnose her with schizophrenia and Chloe is trying to "behave" in order to get out of the house quickly. Her housemates are all very strange and suffer from mysterious problems. Simon is nice, but his brother, Derek, is extremely creepy and Tori, the mean girl, is always giving everyone a hard time. She does have one good friend, Rae, but she claims to have an obsession with fire. As Chloe gets to know these people and spend more time at Lyle House she uncovers the mystery that surrounds the house and why these teenagers are truly there. Perhaps they don't actually suffer from mental illnesses? Kelley Armstrong's The Summoning, which is the first book in the Darkest Powers series, is entertaining, but for me, it wasn't that memorable.
This book is beyond spooky. There are parts of this novel that would translate perfectly to a horror film, especially as Chloe encounters ghosts in the basement of Lyle House. I'm not going to lie; that particular scene freaked me out, especially since I am not a fan of basements myself. I also liked that The Summoning is very appropriate for middle grade students. I can't say that there is anything in the novel that is too edgy or inappropriate as long as the reader can handle some eerie scenes. I know that a lot of my former seventh and eighth graders were hooked on this series and I can see the appeal. And speaking of hooked- the ending was extremely intense. Talk about a cliffhanger?! All of the questions that I had as I was reading the book Armstrong just started to address at the end of the novel and then before you know it, she hits me with an astounding cliffhanger.
I can't say I was overly invested in this novel and I lacked a connection with the characters, which is why I probably won't be reading the next few books in the series. Am I glad I read it since I know it's hugely popular? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Was it mind-blowing? I can't say it was. However, I will be putting it on the shelves of my classroom library and I'm sure my students will thoroughly enjoy Chloe and her adventures.