It isn’t often that I get really excited about doing a review. It isn’t often when doing reviews for Odyssey that I find myself forgetting that this is an independent author, that it’s an Odyssey review, and that it’s work. It isn’t often I get something of such quality; I truly believe it should be sitting on the shelf at any bookstore. But it happens, it does. Of all of the reviews I’ve done, I can count three or four books that are shining examples of independent publishing. The Summoner by Layton Green is one of those.
I’m going to be naughty and start with the not-so-good things, and that is one thing, and one thing alone... and that is the cover. I received the book in epub format and did not see the cover until I was preparing to post this review, and I was somewhat disappointed at the sight of it. It’s...well... self-publishy looking. Sorry. I imagined something quite sophisticated, based on the writing, and I was bummed. But hey, I’m here to tell you that you should not judge this book by its cover. The meat of this book is what makes it excellent.
By page 22, I knew this was going to be a five-medallion book. Editing aside (which was a marked win, by the way), the writing is unbelievably good. The description of characters for instance, is excellent... more than excellent. They paint three-dimensional images of characters with backgrounds, motivations, depth and significance. The book has that classic detective story feel to it. It has that mood... the jaded investigator, his complex and deliciously dark past, the dank and eerie places where the story and the clues lead him... Ugh, love it. But what makes this book really exceptional is the rugged African setting which is written with detail and vivid imagery. There are wonderful the cultural nuances. The author’s knowledge, experience and obvious careful and excellent research add interest and ‘texture’, bringing a new level of believability and realism. Of course, the paranormal side to it makes it all the more intriguing. I could hardly put the damned book down. I forced myself to leave my Nook at home so I wouldn’t be tempted to read on the clock at work. This book is going to stay in my Nook library.
The story is centered on the experiences of Dominic Grey, a dogged investigator for the Embassy/Consulate in Zimbabwe. He has been asked to look into the mysterious disappearance of an American diplomat. What Grey uncovers is a dark and terrible chain of clues and characters that lead him headlong into an encounter with the occult. From animal to human sacrifice, the Grey is drawn into a world of horrors he never knew existed. I will not elaborate more than that. The eerie tale aside, this story carries the reader smack into the meat of Zimbabwean culture, into the diplomatic communities, into the struggles between the privileged and the destitute. This book is a wonderful study of culture and anthropology alike, and this book is above and beyond in its narrative, its cohesiveness, the depth of its characters and the quality of the writing. This is one of the best books I've ever read for Odyssey Reviews. I didn't want it to end. This author should be on a big publishing house's frontlist. No doubt.
So naturally, and obviously, Layton Green gets five medallions for this book.
Oh, and also, to the author's editor I award him/her 5 medallions as well. That is top-of-the-line editing work.
In addition; a while back I began bestowing the Odyssey Reviews ‘Award of ‘Indie’ Excellence on books that were of exceptionally great quality and purchase-worthiness. Layton Green’s ‘The Summoner’ is a clear candidate for this award. This book is the kind of work that all self-published authors should strive to emulate—well, except maybe a little improvement on the cover. I truly look forward to more work by this excellent independent author.