ARC Review: Evocation by S.T. Gibson

Today’s review is about EVOCATION by S.T. Gibson. It’s the first book in Gibson’s new The Summoner’s Circle series. It focuses on the psychic prodigy David Aristarkhov try to shake off an old family bargain with a demon.

Author: S.T. Gibson
Series: The Summoner’s Circle, #1
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Angry Robot
Publish Date: May 28, 2024
Print Length: 304

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Official Synopsis

From The Sunday Times bestselling author of B&N’s best books of 2022 A Dowry of Blood, comes a spellbinding and vibrant new series.

The Devil knows your name, David Aristarkhov.

As a teen, David Aristarkhov was a psychic prodigy, operating under the shadow of his oppressive occultist father. Now, years after his father’s death and rapidly approaching his thirtieth birthday, he is content with the high-powered life he’s curated as a Boston attorney, moonlighting as a powerful medium for his secret society.

But with power comes a price, and the Devil has come to collect on an ancestral deal. David’s days are numbered, and death looms at his door.

Reluctantly, he reaches out to the only person he’s ever trusted, his ex-boyfriend and secret Society rival Rhys, for help. However, the only way to get to Rhys is through his wife, Moira. Thrust into each other’s care, emotions once buried deep resurface, and the trio race to figure out their feelings for one another before the Devil steals David away for good…

My Review

I received a free advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.

Set in Boston, EVOCATION focuses on high-achieving David Aristarkhov, a lawyer by day and psychic prodigy by night. David does his best to stay busy with his rigid schedule. It keeps him from having to think or process much else. That is, until during one psychic house call he encounters something old and terrifying that seems hell bent on taking his soul. With the fabled family curse in the back of his mind, David decides to do another terrifying feat: ask for help.

There are three points of view in this story: David, a psychic constantly fighting his own long-term inner demons; Rhys, a sorcerer and David’s ex; and Moira, Rhys’s wife and a witch. From the beginning the reader knows some tension and quiet animosity simmers between David and Rhys as a result of some event unrelated to their past relationship. David isn’t someone who endears himself to anyone, much less issues an apology. After their volatile history Rhys is all about setting boundaries and protecting the relationship he has with Moira. Meanwhile, Moira herself is very intuitive and essentially is, in her own way, the bridge between the two.

I enjoyed each POV and was particularly partial to Moira’s. The characters realize the strength and warmth she possesses and that clearly came through in Gibson’s writing. This becomes more evident as Moira and Rhys work to help David break the demonic family bargain. I think the reader is also supposed to be invested in a rekindling between David and Rhys as the story progresses. However, I found the chemistry more tangible with David’s and Moira’s platonic relationship. I really looked forward to their moments together.

Based on the official synopsis of EVOCATION I expected the occult have more prominence in the plot. However, while various settings and elements (e.g., crystals, mentions of scrying or summoning) of that are present, the occult seemed to take a back seat to the relationship development between the trio. David’s curse eventually comes into play more toward the end of the book. But I felt it could have been played up more by incorporating more flashbacks. The sole flashback sucked me in. While I had hoped to read more occult practices or experiences in this first installment, perhaps this will be a stronger element in the rest of the series

I could say the same for the teaser of polyamory in the marketing leading up to EVOCATION. But I can let that one slide a bit more because Gibson does a great job bringing David, Rhys, and Moira together to explore the future possibility of it. In other words, experiences and figurative trust falls first result in the realistic development of friendship and healing old wounds.

At the end of the day, EVOCATION is less a book about the occult than it is about letting others in. It’s about realizing that sometimes you can’t go it alone and there is strength in numbers.

Rating: 3.75
Content warnings: sexual content (consensual), blood, child abuse (historical)
Reading format: ARC paperback

8 thoughts on “ARC Review: Evocation by S.T. Gibson

  1. I’m glad you reviewed this early, now I’m even more curious to read it. It sounds like the relationship among the three characters is well done.

    1. Yes, I did feel that the relationship between the trio of main characters was done well. I’m looking forward to how their relationship with each other develops further in the next book.

  2. I’m glad to see you liked this one. It’s a bummer there isn’t more of the occult, but I’m happy to hear that the characters and their relationships are done well. I’m looking forward to reading this one. ????

    1. Yea, I was hoping for more occult action, but the well-done relationship development is what stole the show. I hope you like it when you read it!

  3. I’m glad to hear your review! I would have loved an occult book, it’s a shame the topic isn’t more present. I don’t think i’ll pick it up right now, but if you praise the sequel, then i might go back for it <3

    1. Thanks! Who knows, maybe there’ll be more occult action in the next book. I plan on reading it, so you’ll see my thoughts on that in the future. 🙂

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