This prequel is just as fierce and thrilling as the three titles before it, and newcomers can read it before beginning the original titles in the series. The Summoner series is both addictive and fascinating, and will please adult fantasy readers as well as teens, especially fans of Holly Black and Cassandra Clare’s The Magisterium series — along with readers of Shannon Messenger’s Keeper of the Lost Cities series. You’ll leave the prequel hopeful that Matharu isn’t finished with this incredible universe.
While attempting to flee his dead-end life as an orphaned stable boy, Arcturus accidentally does the impossible: he summons a demon. After a flurry of questioning he doesn’t completely understand, he finds himself at Vocans, the academy for summoner students, with an adorable new friend, a Canid demon he names Sacharissa. Unfortunately, not all of his new classmates are pleased to meet him, and those who feel threatened by his ability and mysterious parentage go out of their way to cause him and Sacharissa harm. Elizabeth, Alice, Elaine, Edmund and even Prince Harold forge friendships with him that are soon tested both in the school and on the battleground, as a holiday at Raleighshire becomes a fierce fight for survival when rebels attack. Orcs lurk close by with threats of their own, and Arcturus finds his life a tumultuous reversal from the one he has left behind, with responsibility for those he considers his new family heavy on his adolescent shoulders. (FEIWEL & FRIENDS, May, 384 pp., $18.99, 12 & Up)