“The Waking Land” by Callie Bates
Del Ray Books, 400 pages, $27.00, June 27, 2017, Goodreads
Callie Bates’ debut young adult fantasy novel, is about Lady Elanna, who was stolen from her parents at the age of four to punish her parents for trying to mount a rebellion against the king. She soon grows to love the king like a father, but when he is murdered and she is the number one suspect of the regicide she must escape back to her homeland and fight to destroy everything she has come to love.
Though I was entertained by this book, I felt like the pacing was way off. The beginning was slow to start, but by the time I got through two-thirds of the novel it sped up to maximum speed. At the end, things got tied up in a nice bow, except for one conflict, which will presumably be the subject of the next book in the series. It was a bit too convenient to me.
I feel as if Bates was trying to create something epic, but she fell a bit short. The concept was unique and captivating, but the execution lacked discipline and finesse. A lot of things change within Elanna, but the only time in which we are told that her loyalties might be changing is in one or two lines. Her character wasn’t transparent enough to project her dynamic-ness.
As a reader, I also felt that there was a lot of things that happened in the book that was never explained. Some of the magic that happens in the plot definitely suffered from this. As well as the decision at the end of the novel for Elanna to wake the land and not only take back her homeland from the empire, but to overthrow the then queen. We are never told that is the new plan of action except when it’s happening. I felt completely lost.
Unfortunately, when I read the inside jacket of this book I was super excited to read it, but once I started I didn’t feel as if I was connected to the material and that had a lot to do with the lack of transparency in character journey, plot points, and basic information about this fantasy world. I hope Bates’ next installment gets the pacing right because I really couldn’t look past that to enjoy anything else about the narrative.
Callie Bates can be found on Twitter at @calliebywords, Instagram at @callie_bates and on Goodreads.