Having loved the beginning of Fletcher’s journey in THE NOVICE (if you’ve not read that, go hunt down a copy right now), I couldn’t wait for this second installment in Taran Matharu’s tale of a teenage summoner and his salamander demon from a parallel realm.
As I’m currently wrapping up Book 2 in the DARK GIFTS trilogy, I was keen to see how Matharu handled the transition between books 1 and 2 in his SUMMONER trilogy.
It turns out that ‘splendidly’, is how. (Plus, like me, he’s a fan of the cliffhanger. Consider yourself warned!)
My favourite aspect of THE INQUISITION was the new secondary world. From Hominem, the human world in which book 1 was set, we are plunged deep into the orc jungles. It drips with atmosphere – especially in the culminating scenes. Matharu draws on Aztec culture to paint the orc realm, and it’s such a marvellous match you wonder why you’ve not seen it (and by ‘it’, I mean ‘orcs’) done that way before. It’s just one of the ways these books take familiar tropes, but shake them up so creatively that what you’re reading feels fresh and original.
So the world widens … and relationships deepen. A winning cast of supporting characters is introduced, like Cress the fierce, wisecracking female dwarf. Imagine the love-child of Brienne of Tarth and Tyrion Lannister. (No, really do try to.) A personal favourite is Verity Faversham, who is not quite what readers of Book 1 may be expecting, given her family background.
Matharu excels at involving readers in the bond between Fletcher and his demon, Ignatius, and in this book Fletcher acquires two more non-human helpers. To say more would be much spoilers, so giveaway, wow. And then a conclusion that’s one part loyalty, one part treachery, and two parts shocking revelation. In all, the perfect cocktail to leave you thirsting for more… Shame it’s another year till the final SUMMONER installment!
(Oh, and both SUMMONER books have just become New York Times bestsellers in the ultra-competitive YA charts – congratulations, Taran Matharu!)