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Early Review: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

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The Waking Land by Callie Bates // VBC ReviewThe Waking Land
Callie Bates
Published: June 27, 2017 (Del Rey Books)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review Source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 5 stars

Ripped from her family at gunpoint at the age of five, Lady Elanna has been raised by the king who took her. She has been treated more or less as a daughter, and she has no desire to remember the parents who let her go or the homeland she came from—nor the mysterious power she has always had. When the king dies, seemingly murdered by the very plant Elanna has been studying, she is accused of regicide—and so she flees…ending up for the first time back in the homeland from which she was taken. As her power grows, so do the threats against her, and Elanna finds herself the figurehead of a rebellion against the only place she has ever called home.

The Waking Land has a distinct Celtic feel to it, from the people all the way to the lands they call home. Even some of the language rings as though it may have come from Eire herself. However, the world within the book is a creation of Bates’, and she did a wonderful job evoking the lush feel of the forests, as well as the sometimes stifling feel of a city. The descriptions of the various settings within the story are so vivid that picturing them, and feeling the emotions tied to them, comes easy. Standing stones are a very important piece of the puzzle in this land, and Bates managed to create a plausible reason for them, within the magic structure she wrote. They are not just stones, but they are alive—and they guard those who live within the land.

The characters are just as well written, their lives flowing off of the page like the magic that Elanna has. While she may be the main character, she truly is surrounded by a cast of characters who all help the story come to life, from the King, all the way down to the stableboy who finds himself in over his head. However, it is Elanna who truly carries the book. She is strong, determined, and absolutely refuses to let the circumstances of her life dictate who she must become. She makes her choices, and is prepared to stand by them. Elanna also does a lot of growing up in the book—from a girl who grew up in court, to a girl in charge of a rebellion—and she truly figures out who (and what) she is.

Overall, I simply enjoyed The Waking Land far more than I anticipated. It’s a coming-of-age novel, though done far better than so many others. The writing is beautiful, and the story is one I keep coming back to in my head. While it is a stand-alone novel (from what I have been able to determine), I would be thrilled if Bates wrote another book set within these magical lands—and even more so if she wrote a sequel. As this is also her debut novel, I look forward to following her work in the future!

Sexual content: none

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