Admittedly, I was first attracted to Tanya Huff’s Summon the Keeper by its cover. A talking male cat, assisting his human (well, she’s a keeper who can reach into the Impossibilities and draw magic) takeover the running of a B&B in Kingston, Ontario. Much against her will. But Claire Hanson is on assignment, and follows the summons to the Elysian Fields Guesthouse, site of metaphysical goings-on which require a keeper to sort out. Keepers, for the record, are a select group who keep the universe in one piece, against wicked gnomes, vampires, ghosts, et al.
Austin, her elderly companion, is an opinionated cat who seldom lets a sarcastic comment go by unuttered. He’s also the only one who knows what’s best for Claire (and the rest of the universe).
This book is the first of a series of three, and the SMSA Library carries the entire trilogy – second and third being The Second Summoning and Long Hot Summoning. All three provide funny, often hysterical, original fantasy plots set in present day Kingston, crossing mainstream humans with out of this world magical inhabitants. Infused with a good dose of light humour and one-liners, this trilogy are classics and can stand re-reading every year. Typical of the repartee are the following two sentences, where Dean, the hunky human handyman who works at Elysian Fields, realises that Austin can talk. After recovering from his surprise, he staunchly remarks to Claire:
“The cat talks.” To which Claire replied, “The cat never shuts up”.
Recommended for lovers of Terry Pratchett, fantasy and Bewitched humour.