About This Book:
Lady Elanna Valtai is fiercely devoted to the King who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder and must flee for her life. Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition powers that suddenly stir within her. But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.
*Review Contributed By Kristie Lowry, Staff Reviewer*
Magic, battles, and a love story too!
THE WAKING LAND by Callie Bates begins with five-year-old Elanna Valtai being taken hostage because it has been discovered that her father, Ruadan (the Duke of Caeris) is behind an attempted insurrection against King Antoine of Eren. King Antoine has promised to keep Elanna safe as his ward as long as Ruadan doesn’t leave Caeris and doesn’t cause any more trouble.
Elanna—El—is now nineteen. She has spent fourteen years pushing memories of her family and her homeland away, focusing on her love of botany and the few friends that she has made in Eren. King Antoine has been true to his word, and he has treated El as well as he treats his own daughter, Loyce. The young women don’t like each other at all though, and Loyce and her friends go out of their way to try to make El unhappy at every opportunity.
There’s WAY too much to fit into a short synopsis of this book, so suffice to say that the real action in THE WAKING LAND starts when King Antoine is murdered and El is considered one of the main suspects. As she runs away from Eren and those accusations, she ends up heading toward Caeris and the life she was meant to live as the daughter of a duke and the key to returning the land to its past glory. Unfortunately, El remains conflicted. Her time as a hostage wasn’t difficult, and she was taught a slanted and negative view of the country of her birth. She’s not originally sympathetic to the rebellion that continued to boil while she was under King Antoine’s care, and she’s angry that her parents left her (seemingly) without any trouble at all and never bothered to try to get her back.
THE WAKING LAND tells a story that is typical for the fantasy genre, drawing from the history and mythologies of the United Kingdom for its plot. Elanna is a standard fantasy protagonist: she continually doubts herself and the magical abilities that she knows she has but can’t figure out how to nurture—particularly since anyone suspected of “witchcraft” is persecuted. There are so many characters in THE WAKING LAND that it’s often hard to keep up, and the secondary characters don’t get much time to develop as the action sweeps them along at a brisk pace. That’s unfortunate; many of those characters have interesting stories of their own that it would be great to follow. There’s also the standard love story as Jahan, a young man with secrets and magical abilities of his own, engages, intrigues, and bewilders El.
And the cover of the book… if I were to buy a book based only on its cover, I would have paid full price for this one and bought it for all of my friends and family too. It’s gorgeous.
THE WAKING LAND concludes neatly, so it works as a stand-alone novel. However, with so many potential stories lingering in those secondary characters, I hope we’ll have a chance to revisit Caeris soon. I’ll welcome the chance to read Callie Bates’s future novels. Although the world she has created doesn’t feel fully formed, and the characters need a bit more flesh, her story pulled me along. I’m definitely interested to see where the story of Caeris and its people will go next.
My thanks to NetGalley and the pubisher for a copy of the e-book in exchange for my honest review.