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16 July 2010 @ 02:12 pm
"Summon the Keeper" by Tanya Huff  
"Summon the Keeper" (book 21) is the July book for calico_reaction's bookclub - I think the theme for this month was cats & one of the main characters in the book is a 17 year old cat called Austin. Who might be intelligent & talk, but he's still very firmly a cat & probably my favourite character in the book. Which unfortunately is faint praise, but I did like him.

So Claire is a Keeper - she's a magic user who fixes holes in the fabric of the universe before they tear everything to pieces. And Austin is her cat. The way it seems to work is that Keepers get feelings that lead them to the holes where they are needed - they get summoned - and they work to shut them if possible, or sometimes monitor them if there's no viable way to shut them. Claire turns up at the Elysian Fields Guest House on a dark & stormy night following one of these summonings, and wakes in the morning to find out the Guest House is now hers, complete with hole in the universe in the "furnace room" in the basement and a guest in room 6 who is a) evil, b) tied to the hole in the universe and c) has been asleep for decades. The action side of the plot therefore turns round whether or not Claire can close the hole.

And I rather enjoyed reading that side of the book - kept me turning the pages, wanting to know what happened. It was played pretty lightly, with a lot of humour that definitely made me laugh at times. And Austin had some great lines (as did someone else rather spoilery) as you'd expect for a cat (and for a something else). I liked how Huff tied in all the characters - the irritating nosy neighbour with her dog, and Claire's teenage sister were both plot important in the end as well as adding colour and humour to the earlier parts of the story. I also enjoyed how it wasn't clear-cut & obvious which way the plot would tie up - by halfway through the book I felt I could make a case for Claire closing the hole & moving on to fresh summons in the following books OR for Claire staying in the Guest House & running it for the following books (I suspect if I'd known the titles of the next books that would've given the game away, but all I knew was that it was a series).

From the tone of the preceding 3 paragraphs it is probably fairly obvious that there's a "but" coming. And if you've read the book you can probably even work it out what it is by noticing which characters I haven't so far mentioned ;) This Guest House also comes complete with a handyman/cook who lives in the basement, and a ghost (originally) in the attic. Dean (the live one) is cute-but-too-young and Jacques is cute-but-dead. So there's not only a love triangle but one where our heroine wants both but thinks she shouldn't want either because blah blah blah. It didn't help that I spent a large chunk of the book wondering if Dean would have a deep, dark secret coz no-one could be that nauseatingly nice. And I found Jacques bloody annoying - I couldn't see why Claire fancied him, except that he seemed to think she would coz all women did. And so there's a whole somewhat angsty subplot about will she, won't she, and who with anyway.

And I wasn't all that keen on Claire, either - I somehow didn't buy her as a 27 year old adult. I think if she'd been presented as younger (20 or so maybe) or at the very start of her independent career as a Keeper then I'd've felt the constant worry about how she was perceived and inability to deal with people were just part of being a sheltered young adult trying to cope & to live up to expectations. But if she's been doing this for 10 years, you'd think she'd pick up some people skills & not be so constantly a twitch about what other people might think. I guess if you normally get to wipe people's memories & move on all the time rather than deal with the consequences of anything then that maybe explains it, but even so.

Overall then a mixed reaction to the book. I think I enjoyed it more while I was reading it than in retrospect when I was thinking about it, and I don't regret reading it. But I don't think I'll bother reading the later books in the series - of the on-going characters I think I only like Austin enough to want to spend more time reading about him - a shame, as I quite like the world.
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Calico Reactioncalico_reaction on July 31st, 2010 01:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks for participating, and thanks for the review!