Hi everyone! Thanks for joining me here today on my stop for Charlie N. Holmberg’s “Smoke and Summons” blog tour, hosted by the amazing people at the Fantastic Flying Book Club! This was my first time reading one of her books so I was really looking forward to it. In addition to my review, I also shared a few of my favorite quotes from the book. There’s a tour-wide giveaway going on as well so don’t forget to enter for the chance to win a physical copy!
My Rating: ★★★☆½
A captivating world of monsters and magic from the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series.
As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon—a raging monster summoned to do his bidding. Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally.
A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day—a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom. But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs.
Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down…
I received an ARC from the publisher as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve actually never read any of Charlie N. Holmberg’s books before, but I do own a couple of the Paper Magician ebooks on my Kindle. I am really looking forward to finally giving one of her books a shot, especially her latest novel Smoke and Summons because of the unique twist to the concept of possession sounds so interesting.
Things I Liked:
Wow, the world-building in this book is so unique and in depth. I’ve read other books before that had some aspect of spirits and possession in them, but Holmberg’s twist to those concepts is so different than anything I have seen before and kept me turning the page. Can this be categorized as steampunk fantasy? Because it has that urban grungy tone to it, but also mixed with magic and spirits. Either way, it’s such an interesting combination and made for a compelling world to delve into.
I was actually really surprised by this, but Rone was actually my favorite character in this entire book. He’s not the typical hero or love interest; he’s not inherently kind, selfless, or heroic – these are traits Rone had to learn through his adventure with Sandis and even though I gaped at how awful his thought process were at times, I actually really loved it. It was so enjoyable to see all these layers to Rone’s character, flaws and all because they made his development and story-arc even more satisfying.
The magic system was so intriguing! It was fun learning about the numina – basically spiritual entities that live in another dimension and have varying levels of power, and can be controlled by being summoned into a vessel. Kazen, the main antagonist of the story, is absolutely terrifying and despicable but a very interesting villain
Things I Disliked:
As much as I loved the world Holmberg has created, there was a lot of info-dumping that made me lose interest quite frequently. Right from the start when we start getting all this information shoved in our faces, I started slowing down and found myself unable to read smoothly and at my normal speed because I started getting confused and overwhelmed. I also feel that due to all the excessive info-dumping, this book started to lose its balance between world-building and plot. The plot it did have felt so surface-level and basic; I found myself left wanting more at the end, and not just because of the cliffhanger.
I tried so hard to like Sandis’s character, but just couldn’t bring myself to. At best, I felt a bit sympathetic towards her situation and, at worst, she bored me to the point where I found myself skipping through her point-of-view. Often times it felt like she was just reacting to everything around her and didn’t really have much agency, and that left me disappointed and dissatisfied. I wanted her to be one of my favorite characters but she was definitely not even close.
Not as captivating as I had originally hoped to be, but I am really intrigued by the unique concept and setting. I also hope to like Sandis better in the upcoming books, and to find out more about the world. Let’s just hope there’s not as much info-dumping in the sequel now that the basics of the world has been established in the first book. I’m definitely going to be continuing this series!
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Smoke and Summons! (Please note, page numbers are based on the ARC.)
- “What’s your name?” the first gunman asked. “I’ll give you a hint,” he said, trying to measure where the man behind him stood. “It rhymes with Muck Kerself.” (pg. 70)
- “Families are permanent.” She looked up. “Something my parents used to say.” (pg. 78)
- He was protecting one of the most powerful blasphemies in existence. (pg. 126)
About the Author:
Born in Salt Lake City, Charlie N. Holmberg was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters who also have boy names. She is a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, owns too many pairs of glasses, and finally adopted a dog. Her fantasy Paper Magician series, which includes The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician, and The Master Magician, has been optioned by the Walt Disney Company. Her stand-alone novel, Followed by Frost, was nominated for a 2016 RITA Award for Best Young Adult Romance, and her novel The Fifth Doll won the 2018 Whitney for Speculative Fiction. She is a board member for Deep Magic Ezine and currently lives with her family in Utah.
Prize: Two (2) winners will each win a finished copy of SMOKE AND SUMMONS by Charlie N. Holmberg
Have you read Smoke & Summons yet? Are you planning to add it to your TBR? Share your thoughts in the comments! Thanks for stopping by my stop for the blog tour and be sure to keep up with the rest of the tour by checking out the schedule above. Until next time!