– SPOILER FREE REVIEW –
Title: The Call
Author: Peadar Ó Guilín
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror
Release date: 30th August, 2016
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Thousands of years ago, humans banished the Sidhe fairy race to another dimension. The beautiful, terrible Sidhe have stewed in a land of horrors ever since, plotting their revenge . . . and now their day has come.
Fourteen-year-old Nessa lives in a world where every teen will be “Called.” It could come in the middle of the day, it could come deep in the night. But one instant she will be here, and the next she will wake up naked and alone in the Sidhe land. She will be spotted, hunted down, and brutally murdered. And she will be sent back in pieces by the Sidhe to the human world . . . unless she joins the rare few who survive for twenty-four hours and escape unscathed.
Nessa trains with her friends at an academy designed to maximize her chances at survival. But as the days tick by and her classmates go one by one, the threat of her Call lurks ever closer . . . and with it the threat of an even more insidious danger closer to home.
The Call is a pretty grim novel with a unique, twisted and nerve-racking concept that hooked me from page one. It introduces Nessa, a kick-ass main character that can’t walk quite well as the result of contracting polio as a child. Having a disabled character in an action-packed story such as this one is something we hardly see and I really enjoyed how the author did it.
I thought the concept had a lot of potential, but, by being so fast-paced and having so many points of view, there was hardly any time to explore all the themes or characters I would have wanted. Still, it was a very entertaining read that I’ve seen people describing as gruesome and not for the faint of heart, although I didn’t find it that graphic or gory (that might be my seemingly heart of stone talking).
“The next morning is Halloween. To celebrate, the Sídhe have left a gift in the boy’s dorm. It is Keith, one of the Round Table. They have sculpted his face into a delicate flower of blood and skin.”
I loved Nessa as a main character, even though we don’t get to know her that much. Her desire to live and to prove to everyone that she could survive motivated her and made her strong, both physically and mentally. I think her being disabled was well represented throughout the novel because it was recognized as a disadvantage regarding her chances to escape the enemy, but it never meant she thought less of herself because of that.
I also appreciated that Nessa wasn’t perfect and did some foolish things as anyone under those circumstances would have, especially at that age. It was good to see her put up the front of being the most level headed person around and then catch a glimpse of her inner struggle and doubts.
Sadly, I didn’t really care about any of the other characters. Sure, some sounded interesting, but we never got to truly know them. That’s why I didn’t mind if they died or survived. I just wanted to find out more about the Sídhe from their point of view, which is pretty much the purpose most of them served within the story anyway. Maybe this has to do with the narration style, which jumped from one person to the next without notice and then, as quickly as it came, it was over.
“Never has a generation of Irish children been so aware of its own folklore.”
Prior to reading this novel, I had no knowledge of Irish mythology and I loved being introduced to it. The whole concept of the Sídhe -the ancient fairy race from Ireland-hunting, disfiguring (for lack of a better word) and killing the teenagers was terrifying and it made me nervous to think of being in that situation. My problem with this was how little we came to know them and how vague were the descriptions of how they look and what they did to the kids.
The Call is definitely a twisted story about survival, strength and hope, and an entertaining one at that for sure. Despite the lack of character development for the secondary characters and having too many points of views in the narrative, Nessa comes through as complex and you can’t help but root for her. It’s been said that there will be a sequel and I can’t wait to explore more of this frightening world Ó Guilín imagined and hopefully learn more about the characters he introduced here.