This was an interesting novel. Four Summoner's Tales is actually four novellas within one book, each one very different than the others. Christopher Golden and Jonathan Maberry came up with the idea of writing short novellas all with the same premise, to see what different minds could create. They came up with this idea after discussing how many different stories all share essentially the same plot. So each author was given one premise in which to create a story about. Their premise had to do with raising the dead, for a price. It was amazing to see the different spins and individual approaches these authors took in writing their story. Not one is alike, yet all have the same basic premise.
The first story in the book is called Suffer the Children, written by Kelley Armstrong. She has long been one of my favourite authors and this book actually fell into my hands after winning one of her online contests! The basic idea in this story is that there are many children in a small town who have recently died from a disease. A few days later, two mysterious men arrive, claiming that they can bring these children back to life, if only for a small fee. But what that fee is, is rather interesting. The main characters, Preacher, his wife, and their adopted daughter, Addie, think that this idea is a very bad one indeed and wish to put a stop to it, only to find they may be too late. This story was very well written and kept the reader engaged through the entire thing. I also enjoyed how she wrote from a few different viewpoints, in order to get a better sense of what was going on.
The second story in the book is called Pipers, written by Christopher Golden. In this story, a gang comes in and kills a number of townspeople all in one night. Shortly afterward, a new man comes to town offering to bring all of their loved ones back from the dead, but only if they all choose to participate, and they also find out that the price they have to pay is that they need to do something for this man. The main theme around the raising of the dead in this book is revenge. The man wishes to create an undead army. It was an interesting read, and you realize you never know who you can really trust.
The third story is called A Bad Season for Necromancy”, by David Liss. This story takes you back to England, 1712. A young man, with the name of January, escapes his abusive father and leaves with everything that he can steal from what his father has. He builds himself a new life and tricks people into believing he is wealthier than he is, and in doing so he finds love. But things take a turn for the worse when his father hunts him down and exposes his lies. January finds a book amongst his father’s possessions that shows him how to raise the dead and he takes revenge on those new found friends who abandoned him when they learned the truth of his past, including the love of his life. I love how this book is written, and the way it flows leaves you wanting to keep turning the pages.
The fourth and last story in this book is titled “Alive Day” by Jonathan Maberry. This particular story takes you to Afghanistan in the middle of the war-torn country. A U.S. military team is sent in for a search-and-rescue mission, only to find themselves up against something more ancient and more horrendous than they could ever imagine in their wildest dreams. Maberry takes you back and forth from the perspective of the military operative in charge of the search-and-rescue mission with the leader of the team that has gone missing. This story was a little bit harder to get into for me because I don’t typically read books about the military and war. But after the first few chapters, which are relatively short, the storyline gets intense, and I found that it was very hard to put the book down.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the stories within this book, and if you are looking for a fun read, I would recommend this. The stories themselves are short, but powerful. And it is very interesting to see just how different a person can make a story based on one premise. Each story is so unique and so unexpected. I never imagined the course these stories would take.