The Calling, by Kelley Armstrong

The Calling is the second book in Kelley Armstrong's Darkness Rising trilogy, which is in turn loosely connected to her bestselling (and ridiculously enjoyable) Darkest Powers trilogy. The Calling opens moments after the events of the earlier book: shape-shifting teenager Maya Delaney and a handful of her classmates have been bundled into a rescue helicopter after their remote Vancouver Island town is threatened by a forest fire. Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that this is less a rescue than a kidnapping, and when the helicopter crashes, Maya and her friends find themselves lost in the woods, with nothing but their ever-evolving powers to guide them to safety—and all manner of things hot on their trail.

The middle book in a trilogy is always a delicate balance. Authors want to keep their momentum rolling, so they can't resolve too many plot points, but they don't want to completely frustrate readers, either. Armstrong handles this by putting all of her eggs in one basket: hardcore action. Nothing gets resolved in The Calling, but the story zooms along at such breakneck speed readers are unlikely to notice. It isn't until you close the book that you realize you're still a full year away from getting any real answers.

Unfortunately, the heavy emphasis on action creates another problem for the book: the cover art becomes ridiculously incongruous. (Seriously, check out that exquisitely applied smokey eye.) The Calling is a survival story set in the Canadian wilderness, featuring a heroine who fearlessly fends off a variety of magical and mundane attacks—everything from a would-be rapist to angry wild animals to unidentified water monsters. Did Armstrong's publishers really have to choose an image that could easily double as an advertisement in a teen fashion magazine*?

*Probably for goth nail polish.
Posted by: Julianka


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