Book Review

Summon the Nightmares

“Summoner of Sleep,” by A.I. Winters

A.I. Winters is a new author with a YA supernatural adventure series, and her new book, “Summoner of Sleep,” is a straight up genre-horror, adult cautionary tale.

Cautionary Tale:
noun. A story that gives a warning.

Cambridge Dictionary

In other words, don’t expect a happy ending.

If you love to see the evil side of botany, but “Little Shop of Horrors” was too light-hearted for you, this book is for you.
If you love genetically modified dystopias, but “Brave New World” had too much sex, this book is for you.
If you love straight horror with all its suspense, monsters, and gore, this book is for you.


As for many horror books, the “heroes” have more flaws than virtues. “Summoner of Sleep” starts off from the perspective of Ryder, a lawyer who had nothing growing up, gained everything he could have ever wanted, then lost it all because of his night terrors of clocks.

As we see Ryder fall apart, we learn of Claude, Ryder’s next-door neighbor. He’s retired and tired of waking up every night from Ryder’s screams. So, he investigates in a tonic called the Summoner of Sleep. Unfortunately, anything so much as a whiff of the stuff (not to mention the mere research of it) drives a person crazy and into the mountains where the plant is grown.

That’s where we meet Mary, a third generation resident of Marble Woods (the small village where Summoner of Sleep is made). She’s been exposed to “Summoner of Sleep,” but is one of the few to largely resist the drug.


The plot is heavy with intrigue, leading the reader to ask what’s going on, why, and how’s it going to stop? Answers only lead to more questions. Even when you think it’s all been explained, you’re only half-way through the excavation of discovery.

Most of the story revolves around botany, going into the different uses of plants, how they’re alive, and how they seem to have minds of their own. “Summoner of Sleep” takes it one step further that the main plant of interest is part demon and can bless people with youth, strength, and healing…at the price of their soul.

There’s a romance subplot which is (thankfully) innocent. Ryder’s recently separated from his wife and catches Mary’s attention, and Claude has a woman he’s fond of. There’s one scene of a monster failing to woo a woman, but the couple on-screen kisses are simple and without detail.
Highlight for Vague Spoiler >> I’m not a fan of the method Mary uses to gain Ryder’s affections, but after finishing the story, I theorize it was ineffective anyway.<<
As for other sensitive areas…


I almost stopped reading after the first F-bomb in chapter 1. I counted 8 F-bombs through the book, plus several droppings of other 4-letter words and names in vain.

As a genre-horror, I expected blood in every chapter, and “Summoner of Sleep” delivers with a side of agony. The bloodiness and fantasy violence is on the level with “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train” (average people will rate it R, but those accustomed to the genre will say it’s TV-14).


It wasn’t my personal cup of favorite hot chocolate, but “Summoner of Sleep” did a decent job at what it set out to do. A.I. Winters has clean syntax and very few proof edit issues (much better than I can say for most beta-reads). My initial thoughts were to rate it at 3.5 stars, but that was entirely for personal reasons (I’m sensitive to excessive swears and gore, I wanted something lighthearted to break the tension every once in a while, and I forgot that it was a cautionary tale, so I was surprised by the abrupt ending).

Putting aside my personal judgements, I put it at a solid ****4 stars****
The novel was interesting, surprising, and good at creeping me out. However, it had a few character holes and some abrupt transitions between scenes.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Summoner of Sleep,” by A.I. Winters will be released July 1st.

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