The Call by Peadair O’Guilin
I read it as a: hardback
Source: personal collection
Length: 307 pp
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Thoughts: If you’re into super dark faerie tales, this is the book you are looking for. In O’Guilin’s Ireland, the Sidhe, the faerie folk of Irish legend, have declared war upon the land and its inhabitants for forcing them into the Grey Lands. Twenty-five years ago, the Sidhe magically sealed off the borders of Ireland, preventing anyone from entering or leaving the country. Additionally, without warning, they steal the children who are between 12 and 18 and take them to the Grey Lands. These children then have 3 minutes in the human world to survive, though a whole day passes in the land of the Sidhe. During that time, the Sidhe hunt them, and when they catch the humans, they will change them into horrifying caricatures of people before sending them back, sometimes alive, usually dead. Across Ireland are military-like “survival colleges,” designed with the sole purpose of teaching children as much as humans know about the Sidhe to help them survive. Nessa is a student at one such school and she awaits her Call with more dread than most. She survived polio and her legs are atrophied as a result, leaving her unable to run as she will need to do when she is Called. She has to learn the best way to use the skills she has to survive when only 1 in 10 physically able children manage to make it back, and most of them don’t come back in one piece.
This was one of the darkest faerie tales I’ve ever read, and I loved it. None of the characters were very likeable, which I think is understandable and believable under those circumstances. Everyone in the book is traumatized in one way or another. I thought it was an interesting take on the legends that depict the conflict between humans and the Sidhe and other fey beings of Irish mythology. I also really liked that, although this is listed as the first of a series, it can be read as a standalone. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger and it had a satisfying conclusion, although it has plenty of ground to continue the story. But I am thrilled that I don’t *have* to read the next book in the series. I enjoyed this book and I’m sure I will eventually read the rest of the series once it’s complete, but I get SO tired of series, especially fantasy or sci-fi series, that go on and on for a floppity jillion books. It is a welcome change of pace to find one that can be its own standalone novel.