Synopses. Spoilers. Sarcasm.
Ah yes, once again my love for dark, creepy faeries made me extremely eager to read The Call. This book was definitely not long enough for such a terrifying and creative concept. This world was brutal and the story ended up being more of a horror novel then I ever imagined. Our main character Nessa lives in a world where the Sidhe have risen up against their age-old bonds and cut off Scotland and Wales from the rest of the world around fifty something years ago. Teenagers live in constant fear of being Called, where they are transported to Faerieland for a whole day – if they mange to survive the day, they are returned, but more often then not they are lost forever or returned with extreme deformities and messed up heads. Due to this phenomenon, children are sent to special schools to train in survival and defense for their Calling. This was way darker than anything faerie related I’ve ever read, so if you’re looking for a Stephen-King-meets-Holly-Black-esque horror, this is for you.
First of all, this world was by far the most savage Faerieland I’ve ever read. It was more like Fairyland-meets-Hell: trees bleeding black sap, lakes of fire, grey landscapes, grabbing trees. Plus there’s the joyful human/animal mutations of Calls never given back, and can we talk about the field of human heads laid out like cabbages???? The idea of getting Called pays homage to the Wild Hunt, which I liked. Then there’s the thing about parents killing their children before they reach teenager status so they aren’t Called. At the school kids shave their heads so the fae don’t have anything to grab hold of, walk around barefoot to toughen the soles of their feet for Faerieland, and participate in murderous ‘Capture the Flag’. The part that blew my mind was when the teachers found out you get smaller as you go to the fae world. There are all those legends of ‘wee folk’, even though faeries are regular sized in Faerieland. Their entire world could exist in a drop of water! This place gives me the creeps, but I’d love to watch this as a horror movie. Any movie producers reading this, I need you to get on that. This author also has the honour of giving me the CREEPIEST LINE OF ALL TIME, which is when one of the Round Table is sent back from a Call: ‘they have sculpted his face into a delicate flower of blood and skin’. Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew.
Unfortunately I didn’t connect with any character very deeply, but the overall character development was decent. Nessa was way more badass then I imagined. She doesn’t let anybody do anything for her. She’s strong and knows how to survive regardless of her disability. Connor kisses her and she beats him up! Hell yeah, Nessa, you’re no weakling! You punish Nessa? That BAMF escapes the cage you put her in and then climbs up the wall of the boy’s dormitory. This is what happens when you don’t skip arm day.
Anto is also hardcore, but in another way. He’s so sure of what he believes in (vegetarian, not hurting first years) that he won’t allow any amount of punishments to dissuade him. When he gets Called, his escape was Hellish Hunger Games style and I expected no less. There’s a really sweet moment between Nessa and Anto after he comes back from his Call, when he allows her to see his deformity and she tells him she doesn’t care, that she loves him for who he is. Cliche as it may be, it was a nice moment in a very serious book. Speaking of serious, this moment leads us to the ONLY funny moment in the book where the Professor knocks on Anto’s door and Anto says he can’t come to the door because he has no clothes on. The Professor gets all flustered and says, “I’m not here for you.”
Now this whole Round Table business was BS. Not that the characters were bad, they just get under my skin. They all try to hurt Nessa because she snitched on Conor for attacking her (Wow, petty people are in the apocalypse too). Then Connor gets Called and challenges the Fae King after stealing a ‘horse’ and insulting a bunch of faeries. Dude, you have balls, but you’re mega stupid (Surprise, surprise, he comes back with other people’s limbs). Aoife and Megan were some cool people that helped Nessa from getting jumped, so score 1 for friendship. I really liked Megan’s bravery, right until the end. She gets Called and taunts the fae about the colours and smells of the human world until they cry. Then she gets her face erased.
The big jazz in this book was finding a fae corpse in the woods. Basically everyone breaks the rules to go and see it, and they almost all get Called. You people are idiots. No wonder you’re all dying. On the bright side, this lets them figure out that the Sidhe are killing whole schools by poisoning the food. I didn’t see the ending coming, what with Melanie, a girl with a hole in her heart, conspiring with the Fae and Connor to poison students to get her heart back. And by ‘I didn’t see it coming’, I mean I never saw any build-up of this plotline, so it felt a little thrown-in.
And then, in the midst of a burning building, Nessa FINALLY gets her Call (Jesus, it took you long enough). This book had waaaaaaay to much build up. Her escape was cool though, how she bargained for her freedom like a champ. The ending of Connor being made King of the island by the Fae and then getting burned to death by Nessa was too fast. It was an epic ending, full of irony and triumph! There wasn’t enough of it and too much worrying earlier in the book. I was slightly disappointed.
I don’t know if this is a part of a series or not, and I don’t think I’ll get the second one if it is. However it was still a creepy read, and I’d recommend it for someone looking for a horror akin to Angelfall by Susan Ee or The Devouring by Simon Holt.
*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*