Summon the Keeper - Tanya Huff This is a reread, but after a dozen years, it reads like new.


Claire – a cranky twenty-seven-year-old Keeper. People of her lineage keep the world from sliding into Hell – literally. Wherever holes into the darkness open, Claire hears the Summons and travels, sometimes around the world, to close those holes. Able to manipulate the fabric of the universe, she is ready to sacrifice her life for the good of the ordinary citizens. She thinks she knows best what is good for everyone. Often, she does, but unfortunately, her powers not only make her justifiably conceited but also inevitably lonely.
Dean – a twenty-year-old cook, handyman, and Claire’s developing heartthrob. Raised by a preacher grandfather, Dean belongs to the rarest category: he irons his jeans and helps old ladies across the street. Claire’s first impression of him:
“In spite of his age, or rather lack of it, this was the most grounded person she’d ever met. … he’d never push a door marked pull, he’d arrive on time for appointments, and, in case of fire, he’d actually remember the locations of the nearest exits. Glancing down at his feet, she half expected to see roots disappearing into the floor but saw only a pair of worn work boots approximately size twelve.”

He also has brilliantly white teeth, wide shoulders, narrow hips, and “a pair of blue eyes surrounded by a thick fringe of dark lashes.” The Keeper is clearly enchanted but resisting it.
Austin – Claire’s cat. No explanations required except that unlike the majority of cats, Austin can talk. He talks a lot, and his sarcastic comments constitute the treasure of this novel.
Jacques – a French sailor ghost haunting the hotel. Claire has a fling with him.


In answer to the current Summons, Claire arrives in Kingston, Ontario and finds a huge, un-closable hole to hell in the basement of an old, run-down inn. The bulk of the story is stationary: it takes place inside the inn. The only change of location happens, when the heroes climb up or down the stairs.
Surprisingly, the tension mounts steadily, as Claire studies the complicated hole in preparations for closing it, argues with the cat, and plays the innkeeper to a stimulating variety of paranormal guests. She also combats her growing attraction to Dean with the increasing levels of rudeness and arrogance. And she is loosing the battle.
Small, disjointed mini-scenes populating the novel add to the sense of approaching doom, as the tension escalates. Soon, the reader thinks and avidly turns the pages. The love triangle between the Keeper, the ghost, and Dean flavors the tale with droll absurdities and exacerbates the reader’s already frayed nerve endings. Soon… Something must happen soon.
It speaks highly of the writer’s mastery of her craft that she managed to create a fascinating, multidimensional story without leaving the walls of the hotel. She also made her story amusing, mostly through dialogs which contain all the different aspects of funny. Sometimes the characters’ verbal exchanges are witty, at other times humorous or ironic, and occasionally sharply caustic.

Unusual, fast-moving, and entertaining. Recommended.