Title: To Summon Nightmares
Author: J.K. Pendragon
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 53,000 words
Rating: 4 Quills
Tags: Gay, Fantasy, Trans, Explicit, Graphic Violence, Scenes of Self-Harm/Cutting
Link to Purchase: Click Here
Release Date: Nov. 5, 2014 (available for pre-order at a discount)
Three years ago, Cohen Brandwein was "Ireland's Favorite Daughter", a popular teenage author and internet celebrity. But ever since he came out publicly as trans, the media's treatment of him has been less than golden, and these days, Cohen is desperate for escape.
When he inherits an old house in the country, Cohen sees it as a perfect opportunity to escape the press and work on his new book. What he doesn't count on is becoming embroiled in a small town murder mystery and falling for the primary suspect, a man whose reality makes Cohen's fantasy books seem like child's play...
The story begins with Niall and Jacky as teenagers. They are trying to summon a demon in order to have the power to stop Jacky's Dad from abusing him. The ritual works but there are consequences that neither could have anticipated. Namely, The Guild. They end up spending the next five years in a Guild facility undergoing tests. Eventually, they are able to escape but Jacky has become so angry that Niall and he end up splitting ways. Niall settles down to a life of hiding and anonymity in a small town. Everything seems to be going well until bodies start showing up - bodies he is pretty sure Jacky is making.
Enter Cohen. Cohen is a writer who is overwhelmed by all the press and family pressures after coming out as trans. He is having the epitome of a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day when he is dropped off at tiny train station, in the rain and his ride doesn't show up. He is met by Niall who gives him a ride home. Cohen ends up being Niall's alibi when he is suspected of the murders Jacky is committing. Cohen and Niall bond as Niall reveals his past and Cohen helps him to make some difficult decisions regarding his old friend.
This book was very exciting. I read it as a serial on the Less Than Three Press website and every week, I waited with baited breath for the next installment. J.K. Pendragon did a lovely job weaving the relationship and emotional plots with the action and magic plots. It never felt bogged down by one or the other. Furthermore, both characters felt very authentic and neither were easy characters to write. On the one hand, Niall is trying to decide what to do about a murderous friend with the full knowledge that stopping means giving up his life (to death or imprisonment). On the other hand, Cohen is dealing with dysphoria and a growing attraction that he isn't always sure what to do with.
One of my favorite parts about this book is the ending. I'm not going to say much about it because that would be more spoilers than I would ever want in a review. Just know that the day is saved in a way I did not expect. Also, the last paragraph was golden. I am hoping it means there might be a sequel but even if there is not, I love the feeling that we got to travel with these two on a very important part of their journey but their journey is far from over.
The only warnings are those stated in the tags. Especially if Self-Harm is a trigger for you, you might want to avoid this or have someone you trust read it first and let you know what parts to skip over. Other than that, I would definitely recommend this book. I give it 4 Quills. Remember that I only give 5 Quills if something stands up to the test of the re-read. This one definitely has the potential to get there.