Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen (US) / Little, Brown (UK)
Publication Date: April 2010
Hardcover: 400 pages
My name is Chloe Saunders. I’m fifteen, and I would love to be normal.
But normal is one thing I’m not.
For one thing, I’m having these feelings for a certain antisocial werewolf and his sweet-tempered brother—who just happens to be a sorcerer—but, between you and me, I’m leaning toward the werewolf.
My friends and I are also on the run from an evil corporation that wants to get rid of us—permanently.
Definitely not normal.
And finally, I’m a genetically altered necro-mancer who can raise the dead, rotting corpses and all, without even trying.
As far away from normal as it gets.
Stand alone or series: Book 3 in the Darkest Powers trilogy
How did I get this book: Review Copy from the publisher
Why did I read this book: Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Power books have gotten progressively better. I truly enjoyed The Awakening and could not wait for the release of The Reckoning, the climactic third book in the series.
**A CAVEAT: This review contains necessary spoilers for the first two books in the series. If you have not read the first two books, or do not wish to spoil yourself, STOP READING NOW! (If you’re looking for the giveaway – a complete set of the Darkest Powers books, scroll all the way to the bottom of the review). You have been WARNED.**
The Reckoning begins immediately where the The Awakening leaves off (literally, the next day). A quick recap: Chloe Saunders and her fellow test subjects Derek (a brooding teenage werewolf), Simon (cute, funny sorcerer), and Tori (a powerful young witch) have escaped the clutches of the nefarious Edison Group – twice. After being forced into a halfway house for supposedly “unbalanced” teens, they’ve discovered that they all have something in common: each of them have extraordinary supernatural powers. Powers, it turns out, that are a direct result from genetic tinkering from the Edison Group scientists. After escaping Lyle House only to be betrayed and placed in a high security lab in The Summoning, and then breaking out and spending a week on the run in The Awakening, Chloe and her friends have found solace in Andrew’s home (a family friend of Derek & Simon’s) – who also happens to be a member of a Cabal dedicated to bringing down the Edison Group.
Things seem safe for Chloe, Derek, Simon and Tori at the moment – but then Chloe starts to have some trouble with a nasty half-demon ghost (read: poltergeist) of a boy named Royce that died in Andrew’s home. There’s also the problem of the adults – Andrew and the Cabal are understanding and helpful, but a few of the adult members of the team are more skeptical of the teen fugitives’ supposed magical abilities and their version of events (especially those impossible tall tales about the Edison Group killing troublesome subjects). And then there’s the problem of Derek – someone is out to hunt and kill him at any cost. Plus, Chloe has started to develop some confusing feelings. She’s always felt an affinity for the good-looking, charming Simon, but there’s a connection with his surly, abrasive brother Derek that she cannot ignore. Faced with an increasingly desperate situation and a gnawing suspicion that their “safe house” is anything but safe, Chloe struggles to uncover the truth to save herself and her friends.
As with the books before it, The Reckoning is another fast paced fugitive type of caper, with a supernatural twist. Ms. Armstrong packs in a ton of action (excellent for reluctant or easily distracted readers), writing a fitting, dramatic conclusion to a thrilling Young Adult trilogy. Interestingly, The Reckoning feels like a nice, encompassing kick-back to the first two novels in the series, as it mixes the uncertainty and claustrophobic feeling of Lyle House from The Summoning with the “on the run” elements from The Awakening. Worldbuilding-wise, The Reckoning does a good job in its own limited scope as the book is narrated in the first-person by Chloe, a fifteen year old girl that knows little to nothing about her own powers and the dangerous supernatural world to which she’s just been introduced. Fans of Ms. Armstrong’s adult Otherworld series will like some of the series easter eggs in this third novel (mentions of a werewolf pack in Syracuse, for example). While there isn’t much in the way of revelations in this final novel (exactly what – beyond the obvious – is the Edison Group trying to achieve with their genetic tests?), there are some brief answers given to questions that will have been nagging readers since the first book – which open the door to even more questions.
In terms of characters, these are the same enjoyable, reluctant friends from the first two books. As a narrator, Chloe goes through a lot in this book, and it’s clear that she’s grown up a lot from the meek, timid, stuttering girl from The Summoning. A loyal friend and incredibly powerful necromancer, Chloe’s forced to make some difficult decisions in this third novel – using her necromantic powers to raise the dead, cut deals with ghosts and demons, even to kill – in order to save herself and her friends. Of course, the thing I was looking forward to the most from this book was the interplay between Chloe and Derek (because, let’s face it – I love this unlikely pair). There’s an annoying feint at a triangle early on in the novel between Simon, Chloe and Derek (which, to anyone reading the prior books is just silly because it’s painfully obvious Chloe and Derek are where the attraction’s at!), but that’s quickly overcome. I LOVE Chloe and Derek – I love how Chloe doesn’t let Derek walk all over her (again, a sign of how far she’s come from the first book), and I love how Derek is abrasive and aggressive, which is only natural given his wolf-tendencies. I also loved popular bitch-girl Tori a whole bunch, and truly appreciated how much she’s changed over the books. She’s still bitchy Tori, but she’s a part of the team, and I loved her unlikely friendship with Chloe. In contrast to the teens, the adult characters are a little transparent…but that’s ok, because it’s the kids that are the draw to the book. The tension between the teens and their adult counterparts, the lack of trust (and even the presence of revulsion) on the part of these adults that are supposedly on the kids’ side makes for a very interesting read.
The Reckoning is the third and to my knowledge (and according to author Kelley Armstrong’s website) the final book in the Darkest Powers trilogy. I have to hope that there will be more though, because, damn, The Reckoning is fun. The book ends the series on a sweet, hopeful note, but there’s still so much room for more, still so many unanswered questions that I can only hope Ms. Armstrong chooses to revisit these characters in the future! (Hey, an older Chloe and Derek? That could totally work).
Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:
AFTER FOUR NIGHTS ON the run, I was finally safe, tucked into bed and enjoying the deep, dreamless sleep of the dead . . . until the dead decided they’d really rather have me awake. It started with a laugh that slid into my sleep and pulled me out of it. As I rose on my elbows, blinking and struggling to remember where I was, a whisper snaked around me, words indistinguishable.
I rubbed my eyes and yawned. Dull gray light shone through the curtains. The room was silent and still. No ghosts, thank God. I’d had enough in the last few weeks to last me a lifetime.
A scrape at the window made me jump. These days, every branch scratching the glass sounded like a zombie I’d raised from the dead, clawing to get in.
I went to the window and pulled back the curtains. It’d been nearly dawn by the time we got to the house, so I knew it had to be at least midmorning, but the fog outside was so thick I couldn’t see anything. I leaned closer, nose pressed to the cold glass.
A bug splattered against the window and I jumped a foot in the air. A laugh sounded behind me.
I whirled, but Tori was still in bed, whimpering in her sleep. She’d thrown off the covers and was curled up on her side, her dark hair spiked across the pillow.
Another chuckle erupted behind me. Definitely a guy’s laugh. But no one was there. No, strike that. I just couldn’t see anyone. For a necromancer, that doesn’t mean no one is there.
I squinted, trying to catch the flicker of a ghost and saw, off to the left, the flash of a hand that was gone before I could see more.
“Looking for someone, little necro?”
I spun. “Who’s there?”
A snicker answered me—the kind of snicker every fifteen-year-old girl has heard a million times from jerk boys.
“If you want to talk to me, you have to show yourself,” I said.
“Talk to you?” he said in an arrogant high school quarterback voice. “I think you’re the one who wants to talk to me.”
I snorted and headed back to bed.
“No?” His voice slid around me. “Huh. I figured you’d want to know more about the Edison Group, the Genesis experiments, Dr. Davidoff . . .”
He laughed. “Thought so.”
The four of us—Tori, Derek, Simon, and me—were on the run from the Edison Group after discovering we were subjects in the Genesis project, an experiment for genetically modifying supernaturals. My aunt Lauren had been one of the doctors involved, but she’d betrayed her colleagues by helping us get away. Now she was being held captive. Or so I hoped. Last night, when the Edison Group tracked us down, a ghost had tried to help me . . . a ghost who had looked like Aunt Lauren.
We were supposedly in a safe house owned by a group opposing the experiments. Now a teenaged ghost showed up, knowing about the project? I wasn’t about to banish him, however tempting it might be.
“Show yourself,” I said.
“Bossy little necro, aren’t you?” His voice slid behind me. “You just want to see if I’m as hot as I sound.”
I closed my eyes, pictured a vague male form, and gave a mental tug. He began to materialize—a dark-haired guy, maybe sixteen, seventeen, nothing special, but with a smarmy smile that said he thought he was. I could still see through him, like he was a hologram, so I closed my eyes to give him another pull.
“Uh-uh,” he said. “You want more, we gotta get to know each other a little better.” He disappeared again.
“What do you want?” I asked.
He whispered in my ear. “Like I said, to get to know you better. Not here, though. You’ll wake your friend. She’s cute, but not really my type.” His voice moved to the door. “I know a place we can chat in private.”
Yeah, right. Did he think I’d just started talking to ghosts yesterday? Well, close—two weeks ago, actually. But I’d already seen enough to know that while there were some ghosts who wanted to help and some who just wanted to talk, there were more who wanted to cause a little trouble, spice up their afterlife. This guy definitely fell in the last category.
Still, if he was another Edison Group subject, one who’d presumably died in this house, I needed to find out what had happened to him. But I wanted backup. Tori had no experience helping me with ghosts and, while we were getting along better, she still wasn’t anyone I wanted watching my back.
So I followed the ghost into the hall, but stopped at Simon and Derek’s door.
“Uh-uh,” the ghost said. “You don’t need to bring a guy along.”
“They’d like to talk to you, too.” I raised my voice, praying Derek would hear me. He usually woke at the slightest noise—werewolves have superhearing. All I could hear, though, was Simon’s snores. There was no one else upstairs. Andrew, the guy who’d brought us here, had taken the downstairs bedroom.
“Come on, necro girl. This is a limited-time offer.”
You know he’s up to no good, Chloe.
Yes, but I also needed to know if we were in danger here. I decided to proceed with extreme caution. My subconscious voice didn’t argue, which I took as a positive sign.
I started walking.
Thanks again to Harper Collins’ wicked cool Browse Inside feature, you can read the rest of this excerpt, along with the first eighty pages of The Reckoning for free!
Also, for a limited time you can read book 1, The Summoning in its entirety for FREE online HERE. And for more on The Reckoning and the Darkest Powers books, check out the official website – www.chloesaunders.com (I love the character illustrations, free Darkest Powers short story, and other bonus material).
Verdict: A fitting end to a fantastic young adult series. I loved The Reckoning and can only hope that this isn’t the end for Chloe and her friends. Highly recommended!
Rating: 8 – Excellent
Reading Next: The Returners by Gemma Malley
We are giving away a FULL SET of Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers trilogy – The Summoning, The Awakening and The Reckoning – to one lucky winner! To enter, simply leave a comment here letting us know what supernatural creature you would rather be: werewolf (Derek), witch (Tori), sorcerer (Simon), part demon (Liz/Rae), or necromancer (Chloe). ONE entry per person, please – multiple entries will be disqualified! The contest is open to residents of the US and UK only, and will run until Saturday, April 10 at 11:59 PM (PST). Good luck!