My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

ARC Review: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Please note:  I received an advanced reader's copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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.

When I read a new fantasy book, one of the things I look for is how well the author does world-building.  It can be really tricky to give out he necessary information so that everything makes sense, yet keeps the ball rolling so the story doesn't stall.  I thought The Waking Land, by Callie Bates, did a wonderful job of introducing the reader to this world, while keeping a fast-paced story moving along.  This was a very enjoyable book with a love story that took some wonderfully unexpected turns.

What I Liked:
Elanna is headstrong yet is very conflicted about who she should be loyal to.  Although king Antoine has treated her as a daughter, the fact remains that Elanna has been a hostage in Eren for fourteen years.  She is very resentful the fact that her father never tried to rescue her.  

It's no surprise that as the story begins, Elanna is certain her allegiance lies with Antoine and his kingdom of Eren.  But she begins to question everything as she flees for her life, travelling to her father's lands in Caeris.  Was king Antoine really such a benevolent leader?  Did her parents actually forget about her?  I liked that Elanna had to take in lots of conflicting information and decide who to believe.   

I also appreciated that she wasn't a fool for love.   She forged her own path with the men in her life, not letting custom dictate what she should do.

Most of the other women in the book were equally complex.  Her childhood friend, Victoire, also begins to question what she has been taught, and must decide how to respond to the reality that her father worked to hide money for the king.  Elanna's mother appeared to be uncaring and too consumed with her own pursuits to care about Elanna.  Yet, she actually finds ways to contribute to the cause for freedom.  Her actions are subtle and show how women often work behind the scenes to get things done.

I thought the author did a wonderful job of creating several different kingdoms.  Eren is supposed to be the superior, refined kingdom.  People in that capitol regard the people of Caeris as uneducated barbarians because they use magic and are in tune with the land.  The mountain region of Dalriada is an isolated part of Caeris that is the home of the wardens of the mountains.  They live more simply than the people of Eren, but are highly educated and have an intricate society.

I particularly enjoyed the complex structure of power in Caeris.  Power is shared equally between a King, the wardens of the mountain, and the Caveadear, the steward of the land.  However, there hasn't been a king, or a Caveadear, in nearly 200 years.  When Elanna shows that she has magical powers, her father determines that she is the Caveadear.   Is she really destined to be the steward of the land?  Or is her father just trying to use Elanna to grab power for himself?

Love Story:
At first I groaned when I saw that there would be a love triangle between Elanna, Finn, and Jahan.  Finn is set to be the new King of Caeris and there is pressure for Elanna and Finn to marry.  But she has already formed a connection with Jahan.  I think this plays out in a very smart way.  It wasn't forced and it showed that Elanna could maintain her independence.  

There is a sex scene in this book.  While it does not go into "mommy porn" territory, the moment is frank so I would recommend this for older teens and up.

What I Was Mixed About:
I thought the character of Princess Loyce was a bit two-dimensional.  She served the purpose of creating a situation where Elanna would need to escape to Caeris.  But we don't have any idea of why she is so vengeful toward Elanna.  I would have also liked to have seen how Loyce was coping with suddenly becoming queen.  This would have provided a great contrast with Elanna's struggle to understand her new role as the Caveadear.

This was an exciting book that was hard for me to put down.  As the land wakes up, so does Elanna.  She not only finds out the truth about her family, but finds her own way to live in the role life has given her. 






Release Date:  June 27th, 2017

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  ARC E-Book 

Recommendation:  For older teens and up.  An exciting page-turner, with strong female characters and fantastic world-building.

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2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


80% 80% 100 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge
clean sweep 2017

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