Book Review

Book Review: Smoke & Summons (Numina Trilogy #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 332 pages
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Publisher: 47North
Release Date: February 1st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


A captivating world of monsters and magic from the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series.

As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon—a raging monster summoned to do his bidding. Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally.

A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day—a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom. But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs.

Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down…


The summary unfortunately had me convinced of a lot more than the book gave me. I know it’s the first in a trilogy, but I expected a different story than I read.

We were immediately thrown into action, which I don’t mind at all. Everything was happening and it set the tone for the rest of the book. But then, the plot essentially was Rone and Sandis running around the same city in the same places hiding from a man while simultaneously trying to find another guy they know nothing about.

Sandis was dull. She has the extraordinary capability to become this fire horse, Ireth. Instead of learning about her powers and how to summon on her own she ran around having Rone save her over and over. I was hoping to see a lot more of the Numen and understand their history, but I think that must be a plot line further down? I’m not sure, background information and world building was altogether missing.

Rone was the best part of the story. He was sassy, a little wicked and had a deep rooted passion to protect his mother. This I am totally behind. Rone really was the bigger protagonist of the two. I loved his inner dialogue and his struggle to make a best decision among a handful of bad options.

I have a lot of questions about all of the bad guys. There’s an evil cult leader who plays his part well, but I don’t know why he’s awful. Then we have the ancient spirit, Kolosos, who we’re supposed to be afraid of the entire time and I am confused as to why on that too.

The story is there and I am still considering the second book. I can see how Sandis’s character can grow and change over the series in awesome ways. The plot definitely thickened toward the end and left me anticipating what would happen next.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Very little language
  • Romance: flirting
  • Violence: guns, physical, knives
  • Trigger warnings: small scene of brief sexual assault