Book Review: The Summoner by Layton Green

The Summoner was not an easy novel to read.   Having previously read and reviewed both fiction and non-fiction about Africa,  I was intrigued when indie author Layton Green offered a review copy of  The Summoner— a novel about Dominic Gray, a diplomatic security investigator with the US embassy in Harrare, Zimbabwe who is assigned to investigate the mysterious disappearance of another embassy employee.

Green’s portrayal of Zimbabwe is vivid and compelling.   He also has clearly done a great deal of research into the religious practices of the “Juju”,  an ancient, mysterious and powerful religion,  which continues to play a role in modern Africa.  The setting and locale and the extensive factual research were most impressive.

The story, however….

My friend Holly wrote a while back about I believe it was the Seven plots that make up all literature.   And most of the time I think it is in fact true that there really aren’t any new stories in fiction.   Only new retellings that can make us love the same old stories all over again.   Perhaps it is because I have been studying the craft of fiction,  but as I read The Summoner I found myself very aware of the formula– Boy Meets Girl/Girl Is Threatened/Boy Rescues Girl.   So very aware of this basic story arc that I failed to be much moved,  even by the remarkable locale.

Honestly,  I find myself just the tiniest bit frightened that learning more about how to craft stories may somehow lessen my great enjoyment of them.    I almost find myself wanting to go back and read a great old favorite,  just to be certain that the magic of fiction still works.   While I peruse my shelves for a novel sure to still have the old kick,   I give a cautious Recommended to The Summoner,  particularly for those with any interest in Africa or the occult.

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