Title: The Waking Land
Author: Callie Bates
Series Status: Standalone currently but possibly a series
# of pages: 384
My rating: 3.5/5 stars
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.
This book confuses me on how I should feel, namely because the story seems completely wrapped up by the end but I’m seeing things saying that this is possibly a trilogy. It’s not just that though there are other things that caused this story to bother me.
We are introduced to this story with a first person narrative as the main character, El, flashes back to the day she was taken hostage by a neighboring kingdom. I have to say this introduction was a great hook because it brought up development and information immediately but didn’t make it feel like it was placed for that reason alone. This also brings light to the fact that the main character has Stockholm Syndrome and manages to handle this in a way that I thought was well done. El’s reluctance to give up on everything she has known up until this point was something I found to be a realistic character trait and one that tends to be glossed over in other fantasies but was in the forefront of this story.
So while I enjoyed the way that El’s story begins the further into the story we get the more it dragged and seemed to change directions with no meaning. It wasn’t that there wasn’t a clear plot but it felt as though the story kept making unnecessary stops or rabbit trails that could have been avoided and provided us with the same amount of interest. This made me lose interest in the story and made it harder to focus on the world building that was only vaguely explained.
The world building and magic system felt unexplained. With all these kingdoms and neighboring rulers and such I expected a more in depth explanation on what actually was going on and instead got a very simplistic description on where things were instead of a more complicated explanation I felt this story deserved. Then there was the magic system which I am still questioning points on because just when I thought I understood how everything worked there was this weird add in about her and the land that I don’t really understand and it isn’t really explained other than another character saying she doesn’t know why. This made me wish for an intricate explanation and even though it may have dragged the pace some it seemed necessary for the story for us to understand this piece of information.
I kind of mentioned the pacing above but the story had a roller coaster feel to it. There were these intense fast paced moments but then immediately after it was really slow again and I was struggling to remain focused on the story.
Overall this was an interesting story and I think that if it had possessed a more descriptive narrative it could have fixed most of the things I disliked about it.