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To Summon Nightmares

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Three years ago, Cohen Brandwein was "Ireland's Favorite Daughter", a popular teenage author and internet celebrity. But ever since he came out publicly as trans, the media's treatment of him has been less than golden, and these days, Cohen is desperate for escape.

When he inherits an old house in the country, Cohen sees it as a perfect opportunity to escape the press and work on his new book. What he doesn't count on is becoming embroiled in a small town murder mystery and falling for the primary suspect, a man whose reality makes Cohen's fantasy books seem like child's play...

164 pages, ebook

Published November 5, 2014

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About the author

J.K. Pendragon

10 books68 followers
J.K Pendragon is a Canadian author with a love of all things romantic and fantastical. They first came to the queer fiction community through m/m romance, but soon began to branch off into writing all kinds of queer fiction. As a bisexual and genderqueer person, J.K. is dedicated to producing diverse, entertaining fiction that showcases characters across the rainbow spectrum, and provides queer characters with the happy endings they are so often denied. J.K. has several romance novels and short stories published with Less Than Three Press, and published their first Young Adult book, Junior Hero Blues with Riptide Publishing's new YA imprint Triton Books in November 2016.

Notable works by J.K. Pendragon include Junior Hero Blues, a light-hearted YA Superhero novel, and To Summon Nightmares, a horror-fantasy that follows the journey of a young trans man into a world of magic and danger. To Summon Nightmares is the winner of the 2015 Rainbow Awards' 'Best Transgender Fiction' award. J.K. also contributed to Less Than Three Press's 'Geek Out: A Collection of Trans and Genderqueer Romance' and wrote about their experiences in the romance community in '#Trans: An Anthology about Transgender and Nonbinary Identity Online.'

J.K. currently resides in British Columbia, Canada with a boyfriend, a cat, and a large collection of artisanal teas that they really need to get around to drinking. They are always happy to chat, and can be reached at jes.k.pendragon@gmail.com and on twitter @JKPendragon.

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5 stars
24 (22%)
4 stars
48 (44%)
3 stars
23 (21%)
2 stars
10 (9%)
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2 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 57 books7,842 followers
November 10, 2014
Absolutely cracking. Loved Cohen, a terrific character, brave and vulnerable and very human. Cohen is trans, which is not the greatest of his troubles in this book, and the way his gender dysphoria is portrayed is amazing. I don't know a lot about this but it was written in an extremely powerful and convincing way, all the more so because it wasn't the main focus of the book.

I wanted this to be longer! Why do all the best books I've read recently run short while the world is full of 800pp behemoths that I don't want to read?

Lovely use of magic. Great atmosphere. Niall wasn't as fully characterised as Cohen but a very likeable hero indeed, the sex was really well done, and the horror really creepy. The author controls the points of view very well, with a few necessary shifts done in a way that isn't confusing or head hoppy.

(NB Don't be put off by a couple of editing fails if you download the sample first, it's absolutely fine in the majority of the book.)

A strong, vivid author with a lot to say, and I hope they relax into a longer book next time to give the worldbuilding more chance to breathe. Very good stuff.
Profile Image for Mel.
648 reviews78 followers
June 12, 2016
This was just great! I thoroughly enjoyed reading 'To Summon Nightmares'. It was so easy to read, suspenseful, romantic and sweet, and had great characters.

Not only the protagonists were immensely lovable and three-dimensionally crafted, I thought it was remarkable that the two adversaries in the book had a lot of depth to them, too. They were both tragic figures, but villainous still. I actually loved that I had to make up my mind if I considered them evil or not.

Cohen and Niall are very sweet together and made for a great counterpoint to the scary, gory parts. I loved how they started their relationship, how it processed, and how Cohen's issues with being transgender did not magically disappear.

I also found the suspense plot to be believable, awful, and entertaining. I had actually started the book once when I was in the mood for something 'harmless', but had to put it aside. This time I was in the mood, and wasn't disappointed :D
I could relate to and understand the protagonists's struggles and actions. The ending... was a little WTF, but after thinking about it some more, I think it is a happy ending with a promise of an interesting future.

I think it was absolutely amazing how the author wrote this lovable transgender character who was a hero and not a victim, but still had and has to figure things out.

I am looking very much forward to more books by this author. Recommended :D

Oh, I forgot. Gosh, can these two kiss. *melts*
Profile Image for Pam Faste aka Peejakers.
175 reviews45 followers
March 29, 2016
Wow, fantastically gripping story! Once I started reading, I couldn't drag myself away; I found myself wanting to tear through the book to find out what happens with the suspense & horror elements of the story, yet reigning myself in to properly appreciate the characterizations & relationships & all the other great parts of this story.

I really liked Cohen & the story of his developing relationship with Niall. Cohen was an intensely sympathetic character & the parts about his gender dysphoria were so emotionally affecting; it wrung my heart to read them. Cohen is a young trans man & the moving story of the challenges he faces based on that, physically, psychologically & socially, and the courage with which he deals with all of it, would make this a book well worth reading for that reason alone. But there is also romance, horror, suspense & magic! What's not to love?!

Niall is a sympathetic character as well, but it's Cohen who formed the heart of this story for me. Their romance is fraught with difficulty for multiple reasons & his dysphoria makes sex with Niall quite scary for Cohen, particularly as but their relationship is really quite moving & lovely & warm.

The suspense is really just riveting. One morning it took me over an hour to prepare a simple breakfast because my eyes were so glued to my Kindle; I didn't want to wait one extra second to find out what came next ;-) There are also some truly horrifying, even gruesome scenes involving the supernatural, but always intrinsic to the plot. And there is some just plain deliciously scary-descriptive writing. Like this: "The beast drew breath, and smoke and fire and death bellowed forth from its glowing centre." Omg! *shudders happily*

There is also witchcraft & magic! Spells great & small, much of it dark & frightening, but some of it just plain wonderful. For the big stuff there is one fantastic scene involving two major characters that I totally loved; it was absolutely cinematic :-) For the smaller stuff, I was utterly romanced by a Eee! Talk about hard acts to follow!

I will leave the balance of plot description to the blurb & other reviewers. But I really enjoyed this book & will be looking forward to reading more from this author.

As a caveat, readers should bear in mind this is not pure romance but a horror story that contains romance, so bear in mind with regard to the ending
Profile Image for willaful.
1,155 reviews371 followers
November 12, 2014
(This is an edited review, because my original arc of the book had a major error. Reviewed from an e-arc provided by NetGalley)

3 1/2 stars. At 16, Niall helped his lover Jacky raise a demon, hoping to save him from his abusive father. Instead, both boys wound up endowed with frightening power, with their relationship permanently disrupted and a government agency called The Guild after them. Niall is hiding out in Ireland when he meets Cohen, a young trans man who's beginning to physically transition and needs time away from his family. It could not be a worse time to find a new love, because Jacky is out for revenge against the Guild, and he has no scruples whatsoever about achieving his goal.

I haven't read many books with trans* characters and I appreciated finding one which isn't about the character's gender identity, although of course it's a very important aspect of his life. I don't know enough to say whether the portrayal of Cohen is accurate, but it felt very real and created a lot of empathy in me for him. I would have liked to see the rest of the story fleshed out more -- it's a little short and thin for the complex issues it raises, and the ending is quite abrupt.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
Author 21 books105 followers
October 29, 2014
Tags: Gay, Fantasy, Trans, Explicit, Graphic Violence, Scenes of Self-Harm/Cutting (From Publisher)

The story begins with Niall and Jacky as teenagers. They are trying to summon a demon in order to have the power to stop Jacky's Dad from abusing him. The ritual works but there are consequences that neither could have anticipated. Namely, The Guild. They end up spending the next five years in a Guild facility undergoing tests. Eventually, they are able to escape but Jacky has become so angry that Niall and he end up splitting ways. Niall settles down to a life of hiding and anonymity in a small town. Everything seems to be going well until bodies start showing up - bodies he is pretty sure Jacky is making.

Enter Cohen. Cohen is a writer who is overwhelmed by all the press and family pressures after coming out as trans. He is having the epitome of a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day when he is dropped off at tiny train station, in the rain and his ride doesn't show up. He is met by Niall who gives him a ride home. Cohen ends up being Niall's alibi when he is suspected of the murders Jacky is committing. Cohen and Niall bond as Niall reveals his past and Cohen helps him to make some difficult decisions regarding his old friend.

This book was very exciting. I read it as a serial on the Less Than Three Press website and every week, I waited with baited breath for the next installment. J.K. Pendragon did a lovely job weaving the relationship and emotional plots with the action and magic plots. It never felt bogged down by one or the other. Furthermore, both characters felt very authentic and neither were easy characters to write. On the one hand, Niall is trying to decide what to do about a murderous friend with the full knowledge that stopping means giving up his life (to death or imprisonment). On the other hand, Cohen is dealing with dysphoria and a growing attraction that he isn't always sure what to do with.

One of my favorite parts about this book is the ending. I'm not going to say much about it because that would be more spoilers than I would ever want in a review. Just know that the day is saved in a way I did not expect. Also, the last paragraph was golden. I am hoping it means there might be a sequel but even if there is not, I love the feeling that we got to travel with these two on a very important part of their journey but their journey is far from over.

The only warnings are those stated in the tags. Especially if Self-Harm is a trigger for you, you might want to avoid this or have someone you trust read it first and let you know what parts to skip over. Other than that, I would definitely recommend this book. I give it 4 Stars.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog, Romancing the Word
Profile Image for Kira.
320 reviews17 followers
May 25, 2015
This book is like a skeleton of the story or a small painting done with very big strokes where you can't see any details. It also has a pretty misleading summary, so if, like me, you didn't look how it was usually shelved as, you should know that it's paranormal, not contemporary. I was hooked in by a prospect of a bestselling writer who happens to be trans, but instead I've got a trans person who, as it mentioned several times, happens to be a writer. The circumstances of his career, family or transition are really vague. We don't even meet Cohen till chapter 3, and I had to check a couple of times before that to see if I bought the right book.
I'm not saying I don't like books with magic, but it was startling and, like the writer thing, didn't really live up to its potential. There're a lot of blanks to fill in, about magic and the Guild, about Niall and Cohen and their life before they meet. Cohen experiences as a trans person are detailed, and it is clear that this topic is dear to the author, but the rest was at times so sketchy, it felt like a trans self-help book.

There was also a pretty big plot twist in the last couple of paragraphs that turns the ending into a cliff-hanger. Seeing as the author doesn't plan to continue the story, I'm left scratching my head. Was that really necessary? This book leaves too much to our imagination as it is.

Overall, it was an okay read, but more as an educational book, not a real, full-fledged story.
Profile Image for Karen Wellsbury.
822 reviews38 followers
November 30, 2014
This is the review that should have been on Scuttlebutt, but isn't.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. The combination of some totally sympathetic characters, a gentle and moving love story and a good dose of horror is pretty compelling.

There are some established elements of horror here, the old house, left by a deceased relative, the small village where everyone knows everyone else and people who have lived there for 20 years are still outsiders. Selling something to a demon, and the consequences thereof. And they are dealt with very effectively, its scary.

There is also a gentle and moving love story between Cohen and Niall, which I found incredibly moving, I can't remember that last time I cared for a character as much as I did for Cohen, his honesty and integrity was beautiful. JKP writes him as a geeky self conscious man, but it was wonderful to read about a character who was beautiful because of what was within, as opposed to a description of physicality. What I particularly enjoyed was Cohen's acceptance of himself.

The book starts with a bang, and then gently builds up, there is a pervasive feeling of how can this be resolved, that hangs over the last 30%, but it is. And successfully.

While I don't believe that a sequel is on the cards, I would defiantly read one, and will be looking out for more from the author.

Profile Image for Shira Glassman.
Author 24 books505 followers
March 14, 2016
This book in one sentence: (mostly secular) bi Jewish trans man vs. his new gentile boyfriend's Scary Past with the Occult.

I don't read a whole lot of horror/paranormal/urban fantasy, so as an outsider there I can speak to the clear and easy to follow worldbuilding of this book's magic systems, government entities, etc. In other words, if you're here for the Jewishness or the written-from-a-trans-author transness, don't be scared off by the whole 'summoning demons' and 'government conspiracy' angles. And if you're here for that, well, I think you'll find it well constructed!

Warning for violence, minor character deaths, self-harm/dysphoria, and some random microaggressions/misgendering.
Profile Image for Haley.
267 reviews36 followers
August 22, 2021
I received this book as an eARC from Netgalley. All opinions are my own!

Cohen thought that inheriting a house in the Irish countryside would be a relaxing way to get out of the public eye. He never imagined that he would get caught up in a paranormal murder mystery along the way.

What can I say to explain how much I enjoyed this book?! I read it all in one sitting because there was absolutely no way that I could put it down. Cohen was amazingly relatable, not to mention that the plot was so unique. I wasn't expecting the places that this story would go, and I really enjoyed that it did go there!

I also felt as though I learned a lot from this book and the trans representation in it. I loved that Cohen so deeply explained dysphoria and that he embodied so many of the daily struggles that trans people live with. I really enjoyed connecting with Cohen in this way and I loved being part of his story!

If you're looking for a paranormal LGBTQ+ thriller, this is the book for you!
Profile Image for Haley.
267 reviews36 followers
August 22, 2021
I received this book as an eARC from Netgalley. All opinions are my own!

Cohen thought that inheriting a house in the Irish countryside would be a relaxing way to get out of the public eye. He never imagined that he would get caught up in a paranormal murder mystery along the way.

What can I say to explain how much I enjoyed this book?! I read it all in one sitting because there was absolutely no way that I could put it down. Cohen was amazingly relatable, not to mention that the plot was so unique. I wasn't expecting the places that this story would go, and I really enjoyed that it did go there!

I also felt as though I learned a lot from this book and the trans representation in it. I loved that Cohen so deeply explained dysphoria and that he embodied so many of the daily struggles that trans people live with. I really enjoyed connecting with Cohen in this way and I loved being part of his story!

If you're looking for a paranormal LGBTQ+ thriller, this is the book for you!
Profile Image for Devann.
2,433 reviews130 followers
August 29, 2021
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley

A decent read but I think it could use another round of editing and also just wasn't necessarily what I was looking for. I was incredibly confused at first and thought maybe I somehow ended up with the wrong book because the main character from the summary isn't even in the first two chapters but then he showed up and it became clear how seemingly disparate plotlines would come together.

If you're just looking for a romance with a trans character then you will probably enjoy this but the summary makes it sound like there's going to be a much larger mystery aspect to the plot when in reality the characters just meet randomly and one goes 'oh yeah I know who's killing everyone' and then they flirt a lot and finally get around to stopping the guy at the end. It's a very quick read which is probably what saved this from being a 2 star read for me but if you don't mind plot being sacrificed for romance I'm sure this will be perfectly enjoyable.
Profile Image for Elizabetta.
1,212 reviews34 followers
November 14, 2015

3.5 stars

It’s all a bit improbable.

But it is a story about magic, after all.

Cohen is the unsuspecting new guy in a creepy small town somewhere in Ireland. He just moved into a dank and creepy house. His inheritance from a recently deceased aunt. Cohen is a popular online writer and videographer. He’s looking for peace and quiet, needs to write that next book and escape the hordes. Ever since he came out online as trans, he’s been too much in the spotlight.

The story starts with a conjuring, some five years in the past. Two teens, Niall and Jacky need help from a powerful demon. These two have some capacity for magic but do they really know what to do with it?

Improbable, yeah, but I just went with it. The author had me in the palm of their hand with this one. I just never knew quite where it was going. What is the connection? -- between magic and a young trans man who desperately wants the right body to live in? It becomes clear as you read. What a clever way to delve into the dilemma.

An odd, trip of a story… Witches, monsters, a serial killer, lots of bloody gore, all-round creepiness…  

… but what makes it special is the treatment of Cohen. This is my first romance with a trans main character. And what a compelling guy… kind-hearted, generous, sweet, courageous… The story also digs into Cohen’s pervasive feelings of dysphoria, as he calls it. His constant fight with depression. Of his longing to feel comfortable, within himself and without, but always feeling inadequate. His longing for a body that matches who he is inside. It never feels manipulative or laid-on-too-thick. It touched my heart.

“Cohen had never had a boyfriend before, and he’d never allowed himself to think that he might… he’d identified as a lesbian and had a string of girlfriends before ever coming out as trans. He’d always known he was bi, really, but he’d also always felt like gay men were unattainable to him, like he was an imposter for even being attracted to them.”

When Cohen meets Niall in that remote village it does seem improbable. Their connection is immediate; their relationship takes off suddenly. But why not? They are two lonely souls who desperately need physical connection and acceptance. They fit together.

When Cohen gets the incredible chance to set everything right, he makes an important decision. An ‘ah-ha’ moment that illuminates his waking nightmare-- his twist between self-hate and self-love-- and his depth of character.

I have to recommend this (please heed the tags). For Cohen. To Cohen.

(The ending is totally WTF, though-- it seems that the creepiness wins out. I’m so wondering what is up next.)

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. For this and other reviews, author interviews, and general fabulousness, visit Love Bytes:

Profile Image for Izzy.
Author 2 books39 followers
June 22, 2015

What a child might use as a toy, an adult would use as a weapon…

This story could be seen as a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for. I read ‘To Summon Nightmares’ with great enjoyment and relish. The story is intriguing, the characters likewise intriguing, interesting and likeable. The pace of the book and the created atmosphere means the reader is always slightly off balance, anything can happen and probably will.

Set in an alternate reality where magic exists unknown to society, and a shady organisation governs those who have and use magic. This organisation has become corrupt at the top levels and two young men, Niall and Jacky, are kept and tortured by the ‘Guild’, following an ‘incident’ when they were sixteen. Their story is one thread of this novel, which eventually entwines with the story of Cohen.

Cohen Brandwein is a trans* man who has ‘escaped’, from the comforting world of his family in Dublin to transition, and discover if he can survive by himself. He inherits a large old house, in a small Irish town from an aunt who was thrilled when he became a young published author. His books, a fantasy series, are very popular, but Cohen has also made videos for You Tube in which he has detailed his thoughts, as a young trans* man on his path to transition. These have become very helpful to, and popular with, his readers. I love the character of Cohen he is kind, sensible, brave and although he has such needs, he is never needy. The writing that details the pain and anxiety, surrounding his gender dysphoria, is so heart wrenchingly real it made me cry.

Stories entwine when Niall saves Cohen from a rain soaked walk, when his lawyer fails to pick him up from the train station. Unable to gain access to the inherited house, Cohen stays the night at Niall’s and life will never be the same for either of them.

This novel is so much more than the sum of its parts. It is a romance, and one in which the relationship, and especially the sex scene, is very sensitively and believably written. It is a mystery, as there are murders occurring in this small town, and Niall is the main suspect in the beginning. It is fantasy, and contains magic with references to myth and legend. However, the story also includes small town prejudices, family and individual struggles with gender identity, moral dilemmas regarding the common good and magical battles.

The author subverts gender norms and stereotypes with aplomb and it is a joy to read. I suspect it could have been a temptation to some authors to make the young trans* man the weaker of a couple, emotionally as well as physically, but J.K. Pendragon does not fall into this marketing trap. Cohen is mentally very strong and has had to be all his young life. Niall is the more lean muscled gay man with the power, but he leans on Cohen for much of the book both for emotional support, and for moral direction. The more I write for this review the more I see in this novel. A must read.
Profile Image for Alison.
752 reviews30 followers
December 5, 2014
I loved this novella. It's got magic and love and murder and some quite creepy stuff and two lovely, very human Irish guys, one of whom is trans (and bi and Jewish, and the other one is vegetarian--score for diversity!). It's a vivid, exciting story and I thought it was very well done. I really liked the characters and their relationship and I loved how the gender stuff was written--it seemed honest and it was quite moving at times. This is a big story in a small package. I might even say it's much too short, but it's a fast, gripping, and enjoyable read. Plus, the ending is cool. Recommended.
Profile Image for AMHH.
93 reviews
September 19, 2021
This book packs a lot of story into a relatively short duration, and while I was totally swept up in it and kind of didn’t want it to end, I can and will acknowledge that actually the pacing works really well, and that ideas, events, and characters are fully developed over the course of the story. I liked that the first two chapters set the stage so well, giving readers a full picture of the horrors Niall has endured before introducing Cohen. Niall is a sympathetic character: he’s courageous, complicated, and has held on to a sense of empathy and care through unimaginable trials. He’s not, however, standard hero material, in that his empathy is also somewhat paralyzing, and it’s up to Cohen to make some really hard decisions when Niall can’t. Cohen is everything you’d want in a hero: determined, idealistic but not delusionally so, sure of his moral compass and what needs to be done, even when it’s frightening. His life is composed of plenty of acts of bravery, small and large, and his ability to stand up to transphobic villagers and ancient, potentially malevolent forces alike showcases a strength that’s not without cost. The connection that he and Niall forge under the worst of all possible circumstances is beautiful in it’s acceptance and care, and while the novel doesn’t draw an explicit parallel between Niall struggling to cope with powers he never wanted and Cohen taking on the dysphoria that haunts his inhabiting of his body, they both see enough of that tension in each other to empathize and share strength.

At the crux of this story is the problem of power, and the consequences of its abuse: Jacky’s father and the Guild are catalysts for calamity precisely because of the way they twist and misuse the power they’re given, whether it be over a single dependent child or a community of magic users. The human capacity for cruelty and exploitation is the root of the evils this story takes on, and they’re far more frightening, on an existential level, than demons and magically enhanced violence. For me, Kathleen is the most terrifying character, supernatural or human, in the book, because she *knows* what she’s doing is beyond wrong, but she chooses it, because evil is easier, and she’d rather cling to the illusion that she has no choice than try to fight back. To save one life, she’ll destroy any others that her bosses tell her to, and that’s disgusting, but also super relatable-- we see this every day. There's a parable here about people who work for corrupt agencies and institutions while knowing that they’re part of something wrong: it’s horrifying not because it’s unlikely, but because it’s downright prosaic.

As a final note, let’s talk endings, because as much as this novella has an awesome romance it is a horror story with a romantic subplot, and that means that it ends, as good horror stories do, with an open-ended, could be good, could be fine, may indeed be very very bad, moment. It fits the story, and I’m personally hoping for a sequel, but even if that never comes, this is a good place, true to genre and the choices made by the characters, for it to finish up.

*I received an ARC of this book and voluntarily composed an honest review.
Profile Image for Bekah Rod.
145 reviews13 followers
August 20, 2021
I loved this book!! It was super easy to read, fast-paced, and thought provoking. With amazing characters and suspenseful plot, I was hooked.

This book starts out with two teenage boys, Niall and Jacky, who decide to use magic to get Jacky away from an abusive parent. However, things don't go as planned and these two end up taken hostage by a magical enforcement group, the Guild. Flash forward several years, the boys are able to escape and will forever be hunted by the Guild. Those years in captivity caused Niall and Jacky to change. They aren't the same boys they once were - they aren't in love anymore. Next we meet Cohen, a famous author and publicly out trans young man. He has inherited an old house in a small-town in Ireland. It's here Cohen meets Niall and he becomes entangled in a new relationship as well as paranormal murder mystery. .

I loved that each character wasn't truly the hero or villain of this story. They were all written very three-dimensionally. Each has faced setbacks or hardships that make the reader feel for them, but also may have done some pretty horrible things. This causes the reader to really think about the motivations and moral "lines in the sand" that they want to stick by. I think Cohen's dysphoria was written so well, I may not have quite a lot of knowledge on this topic to give my opinion but I felt it was very powerful and honest. It didn't seem glorified or glossed over.

My only negatives were that I hated the name "Jacky" and the book went by so quickly I wanted more. I will definitely be looking out for the next book!

I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine!
Profile Image for Kat.
303 reviews172 followers
September 18, 2021
4 stars! (published August 23rd!)

**Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.**
#ToSummonNightmares #NetGalley

+ Canadian, bisexual, genderqueer author
+ rep: trans man, trans girl, bisexual, gay, PTSD
+ plot: In high school, Niall summoned a demon to help get rid of Jacky's abusive father. Jacky makes a deal with the demon and both Niall and Jacky get strong powers, are kidnapped by a magical council, and tortured for years. Fast forward years. They escape. Jacky is out for revenge. Niall just wants to live a quiet life, probably alone. Until the day he offers a ride to Cohen.
+ Niall (MC): a gay witch with immense power who just wants to live a quiet life in the Irish countryside
+ Cohen (MC): an ex-Irish celebrity looking to get away to write his next book and come into his own after transitioning
+ I really loved Niall and Cohen so, so, so much. Their cis (Niall) and trans (Cohen) conversations, dynamics, acceptance, and slow build were endearing and heartbreaking. Niall is so sweet and soft despite being a big guy and Cohen is so strong and resilient.

- The synopsis is a bit skewed and I was confused at first. We don't follow Cohen for the first part of the book. It's about Niall and Jacky in the past then goes forward in time to intersect with Cohen's timeline.

TW: self-harm, cutting, gender dysphoria, accidental and intentional mis-gendering, death, gore, trauma, PTSD, abusive parent, a terminally ill child, torture (off-page)
Profile Image for Lia.
158 reviews4 followers
August 28, 2021
Thanks, Netgalley and publisher for the opportunity to read and review!
This is the first book I read about a trans character being the main protag, but this was his uniqueness and yet not everything that was special about him - he is brave, sweet, romantic, vulnerable and actually, carries everything deep that makes us all human. There's the character of Niall, who is so very interesting as well, but not that developed as Cohen. I really wished there was a little bit more of him, but still, his relationship with Cohen started and developed beautifully and realistically - Cohen still has a lot on his mind and a lot of issues to solve, but he's getting there and this time, he's not alone. There's some serious gore, which I'm not entirely used to, but isn't the main focus of the book, so it's something I could get through in the name of plot and character development!
Profile Image for Books+Coffee=Happiness Blog.
258 reviews12 followers
August 22, 2021
A tale of magic, tragedy, and love… and did I mention magic?

The first bit of the book felt a little disjointed and confusing but once Cohen and Niall meet it starts to make more sense. I loved how protective Niall was from the beginning. What he saw as weakness was actually his strength. He had a huge heart, but it allowed people like Jacky to take advantage.

Cohen was brave, a bit quirky, and completely endearing. I was rooting for him and Niall to find happiness together. They’d both suffered and deserved a fairytale ending… but with the last scene in the book, I’m not so sure that’s in the cards for them. I really hope there will be a sequel.

Overall an action packed read that left me wanting more.
Profile Image for Oliwier.
183 reviews3 followers
September 1, 2021
Thank you netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for a review

I liked the plot and writing style of the book, I loved the fact the MC is a trans man (who does his own T shots !! I was so happy to read this part), however some aspects of the book were too dark for me. I think that a lot of people will like it, it's just that I'm sensitive to some subjects (and it's clearly me fault for not reading the trigger warnings more carefully). So I had to read this book during the day and not right before bed, but I still managed to finish it and I liked the story in itself !
Profile Image for Katie.
219 reviews6 followers
August 28, 2021
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the digital ARC, this has not affected my honest review.

I really enjoyed To Summon Nightmares and read it all in one night, it's an easily accessible book with a fast moving plot and interesting characters. I loved Cohen and his transgender experience and how that shaped his interactions with the world. I enjoyed his relationship with Niall as well and how the two of them worked together in the end.

The only part I didn't like was the lack of supernatural and fantasy elements up until almost the end but this was a fun and diverse read. It's definitely important to read the trigger warnings for this book.
Profile Image for Ami.
304 reviews60 followers
May 9, 2017
Once again, Pendragon started out so well, but had faltered by the end. There were too many unanswered questions, not enough characters were fleshed out well and the end was incredibly rushed. This is a tale that would have done better in the telling with at least a hundred more pages. And a much better synopsis on the cover; this is certainly not what I would term a mystery.
Profile Image for DFZ.
359 reviews14 followers
April 6, 2021
Magical trans romantic thriller novella by a queer author! Don’t get to say that a lot. Much to like about this book, but definitely agree with others that it was on the short side. I’d definitely wish for more detail, more fleshing out, to really understand this world and watch relationships develop.
Profile Image for Fay Babette.
103 reviews
August 23, 2021
I hope there's a next instalment of this. Dangerous and romantic. This was chilling in every way and I adored this novella!!! So many questions and so much more could be told please make this a series!!! Each character in such a short book is so defined it blew me away!!
The best dysphoria representation I have ever came across. Heart breaking. MUST READ.
Profile Image for Annarella.
10.4k reviews101 followers
January 31, 2022
A good mix of romance with horror, fleshed out and likeable characters, a sweet romance.
It's the first book I read by this author and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Well written, compelling, and entertaining.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
3 reviews
February 2, 2019

It's brilliant book as great magic and romance Cohen and Naill. It's interesting different name characters. J.K. Pendragon is a good writer!
184 reviews5 followers
October 29, 2022
A good read for spooky season. Some horror, some romance. Recommended. Thanks to netgalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for Laura B..
Author 9 books5 followers
September 6, 2021

This book hooked me in from the start and pulled me along for an absolute roller coaster!

I loved the relationships between all the characters. I can't wait to spend more time with them.

This book comes with quite a few trigger warnings, and I highly recommend that potential readers check those out as this book deals with a lot of sensitive issues in a really respectful way.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
602 reviews45 followers
December 2, 2014
Things I like about this book:

*Cohen. The main character delights. He fills the "ordinary-person-discovers-magical-underworld" trope, and what makes him a rare gem is that he's still ordinary after he finds out. He doesn't fulfil a prophecy or discover latent magic or an aptitude for weapons. He's in over his head, and sometimes he makes bad decisions because he doesn't know what he's doing. That feels very real to me. I appreciate Pendragon's handling of Cohen's dysphoria, though I wish even passing mention had been made of the fact that every trans* person experiences and deals with dysphoria in their own way.
*The pacing. For 90% of the book, both the action plot and the romance plot move at a believable pace, and Pendragon does a nice job of making each plot integral to the other.
*The love story. Though I would've liked to get to know present-day Niall better, given what we learned of his past, making him something of a cipher makes sense. I'm kind of over the "mysterious guy with a tortured past" trope, but Pendragon rescues Niall by maintaining his ability for emphathy and keeping his "self-sacrificing idiot" quotient low.

Things that didn't work for me:

*The order of scenes (aka "the other 10% of pacing"). While I don't adhere to the rule that the love interests must meet on page one, we don't meet Cohen, the purported MC, until a third of the way through the book. I really struggled with this and almost abandoned the book several times because of it. IMO, this book would be stronger if it started with Cohen on the train and meeting Niall at the station and we got the rest in flashback later. This would introduce the MC faster and heighten and prolong the mystery of What's Up With Niall. A win-win.
*The math. The book never specifies how many books Cohen's published. It's at least two, and I infer three, because of how well-known they are as a series. But paper book publishing is a glacially slow process--especially if he's working with one of the Big 6, which he would almost have to be to gain the kind of international notoriety he seems to have.* So unless "The books I wrote when I was 16," means he wrote all three books in one year, I can't swallow that he's had time to: write and publish three books; rise to international acclaim; come out as trans*; fall out of public favor; AND make the decision to retreat to the country by age 19. It wasn't a constant problem, but every time someone mentioned Cohen's writing career, "doing the math" threw me out of the story.
*Cohen's deal with the Titan. Yeah, I said I like that Cohen makes mistakes, but if ever there were a time for him to get his shit together, this was it. He had a Titan under his command. If Jacky could've used the Titan to destroy the Guild, and Cohen used them to alter the Guild's memory of Niall, why not make the Titan create a change of heart (and practice) for the Guild? It can still police the magcal world, but without the unfeeling consequentialism of its current practices. Even granted that Cohen didn't have a lot of time to plan, his list of demands still feels like the contents of my shopping cart look when I go to the store hungry and without a list.
*The ending. OMG, THE ENDING. This book was released on 11/4/14, so I really hope a sequel is in the works, because THE ENDING. An abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion--unless we'll be seeing more of these guys in the future, which I would certainly welcome.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Trans-cending-literature.
142 reviews315 followers
October 14, 2021
Pro: trans character, good horror premise, trans positive sex scene

Cons: the romance felt very forced, plot kinda all over the place, and as a trans reader I’m tired of reading the self hating angsty trans character and I was sad to see it here

Probably would be a two if it was any longer, but it was short and fast paced enough that I didnt get too bored or annoyed
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