Note: This review will contain mild spoilers for the previous book, Summon the Keeper.
I was entertained by Tanya Huff’s first KEEPER’S CHRONICLES novels, Summon the Keeper, about a woman named Claire whose job, as a Keeper, is to travel around closing evil holes in the fabric of the universe when they pop up around Canada and the US. In Summon the Keeper, Claire and her talking cat (Austin) were “summoned” to a bed & breakfast which was endangered by a portal to Hell that had opened in the furnace room. I liked the B&B setting, the cat (I’ve never met a cat I didn’t like), and Dean, the hot housekeeper and cook. At the end of that book, both Claire and Dean left the B&B.
In book two, The Second Summoning, Dean has been driving Claire and Austin to their various summonings. Claire is aware of Dean’s feelings for her and her own feelings for him, but she does not want to get Dean mixed up in dangerous Keeper business, so she dumps him. Meanwhile Claire’s little sister Diana, a high school student who is even more powerful than Claire, starts meddling with the cosmos a bit when she’s on her high school’s decorating committee. The consequences of all this (you just have to go with it) is that a bewildered (but hot) male angel appears in the world and has no idea what he’s doing there. And then, because there has to be balance, a female demon shows up. Claire and Diana need to restore everything to its right place in the universe.
I enjoyed the humor of Summon the Keeper, but The Second Summoning was just a bit too silly for me. It’s amusing at first but then the humor becomes repetitive as Tanya Huff takes multiple swipes at 70s, 80s, and 90s pop culture icons:
The only sound came from the rectangular bulk of the heating unit under the window that roared out warmth at a decibel level somewhere between a DC9 at takeoff and a Nirvana concert — although it was considerably more melodic than either.
…and as Samuel the angel takes everything literally:
“You can get a meal and hear the word of God.”
Samuel smiled in relief. This, finally, he understood. “Which word?”
“Well, God’s said a lot of words, you know, and a word like ‘it’ or ‘the’ wouldn’t be worth hearing again but it’s always fun listening to Him try and say aluminum.”
“What are you on, Samuel?”
This was easier, he glanced down. “Laminate.”
This type of humor got old pretty quickly for me. The plot, also, was similarly shallow and frivolous, which is totally fine — there’s a place for that — but it just doesn’t serve to elevate the book in any way. Likewise the prose is nothing special. In fact, there isn’t anything I can point to here and say “this is really well done” except for the audiobook performance by Amy Melissa Bentley. Tantor Audio’s new edition is excellent.
I still like these characters, especially Dean, and the audiobooks are great, so I’m going to listen to the third book, Long Hot Summoning, which has just been released in audio format. I think the B&B may be part of the setting for book three, so I’m looking forward to it.