Four Summoner’s Tales

Kelley Armstrong, Author, David Liss, Author, Christopher Golden, Author, Jonathan Maberry, Author
Kelly Armstrong, Christopher Golden, David Liss, and Jonathan Maberry. S&S/Gallery, $16 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-4516-9668-4
Reviewed on: 07/29/2013
Release date: 09/17/2013
Powered by adept story-crafting skills, this anthology of novellas delivers limited thrills, but it does successfully showcase four prominent authors’ inventive takes on a central theme: “A strange visitor comes to town, offering to raise the townsfolk’s dearly departed from the dead—for a price.” The worthy, if not terribly satisfying, “Suffer the Children” from Armstrong (the Otherworld series) follows the prompt most literally, with actual strangers, and an actual town. “Pipers” from Golden (The Graves of Saints), about the victims of a Mexican drug cartel becoming a vengeful undead army, has a jarringly sepia-hued evocation of Texas border life. Maberry recruits his own series lead, Joe Ledger, for “Alive Day,” perhaps the most ambitious of the quartet, and, unfortunately, the least effective. Confusing point-of-view changes and a nonsequential narrative turn his depiction of a death cult in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan into a muddle of feverish hallucinations, dismembered bodies, and blustering dialogue. Liss (The Twelfth Enchantment) rescues the project from mediocrity with “A Bad Season for Necromancy,” a witty account of a necromancer who blackmails rich widows in 18th-century London. (Sept.)
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