Title: Spirit Taken (Caleyna Summoner II)

Publisher/Author: Jolene Dawe

Pages: 35pp

Price: 99 cents

The Hook: Caleyna is a Summoner. Centuries after the Gods abandoned the world and monsters crawled up out of the darkness, Summoners walk the land, lending practical and supernatural aid to those human communities which still survive. Gifted with magical abilities by the Five Gods who remained behind, the Summoners are both loved and feared. When winter descends, they retreat to their island sanctuary, safe from human persecution and monsters alike .... But this winter is different. The island has been surrounded by bloodsickle, and the dryad of the carnivorous plant has a proposition that Caleyna cannot refuse ....

The Analysis: This is the second short story in Dawe's Summoner series. I adored the first story, and waited impatiently for the next installment. It has proven to be worth the wait. 

Caleyna is a great character. She is smart, experienced, determined, and loyal. And I love the fact that it is her courage and empathy which gets her out of this terrible situation, rather than brute strength and bloodshed.

The world she inhabits is both beautiful and terrible. No one knows why the Gods left, or where they went. No one knows why the monsters came, or where they came from. Life is uncertain and frightening, but also filled with moments of wonder. The plants which grow in this haunted landscape are sometimes hungry (especially for human flesh and blood), and are sometimes allies, offering healing and protection.

The Summoners are an interesting group of people. Wanderers by nature, they only return to their island because they have to; staying among people through the long winter -- and no one knows just how long it will be, as the seasons have lost all meaning -- is dangerous and has proven fatal to more than one Summoner. By the end of winter, they are anxious to be on the road again. But the island is also their home, the place where they studied with and were blessed by the Gods.

The Verdict: Spirit Taken is an excellent (long) short story. The characters are compelling, the world-building is rich, and the stakes are high. I look forward to Caleyna's next adventure.

Highly recommended to fans of Stephanie Burgis, Clara Coulson, Helen Harper, and Ana Mardoll.