The Waking Land
Author: Callie Bates
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Pages: 400 (HC)
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
Where to start with this novel… it was so much to take in. I really wanted to love this read, and with a beginning like the one The Waking Land had, I felt like it was going to quickly become a favorite. Somehow, it was the exact opposite of it. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy any of it, or that it didn’t have that magical feel I was hoping for, it just had too much of it. Along with a bit of a creepy factor I wasn’t expecting, it was a little off putting.
Even with that I hoped that the characters would make this story much more interesting for me and put some of those other feels behind me, but sadly that was not at all what happened. I didn’t connect with many of the characters and I feel like a big part of it could have been that there were so many of them and they were on constant rotation (yes, that’s how it felt for me). I was not very fond of Elanna, and that was not for lack of trying, she just didn’t have any traits or qualities that set her apart, even having the land in her corner.
As it moved along, I hoped the love story that played out would sway me more in the direction of great reads, and that also felt a little bit of a let down. Don’t get me wrong, Jahan was more of a likeable character than Elanna’s, but that bond they were forming felt a little unbelievable. He was in and out of the picture often and not much she could really trust as he wasn’t even someone she’d known until all the chaos ensued. What really set me off from this romance was the way they cemented their new relationship. It was definitely cringe worthy.
That’s where it really gets even weirder and not a good shocking moment, at all. I loved that she had the ability to use the land at will, being able to defend those that needed, or get herself out of a deadly situation, but it was the bond she had to form to really be part of the land that I couldn’t stomach (there enters her love and the extremely squeamish scene in the novel). Even more, was what she had to give up for having to wed the land because yes she actually became its bride.
While I enjoyed the parts of the magic involved and the story it began with, how the king was not as he portrayed himself to be, or what her people truly represented, even the fact that she was fighting to defend the freedom and unity of the people, everything else seemed to have dragged on. While all of that happened, even more characters were being introduced and being killed off or removed for one reason or another. I felt like I could have really liked this novel more if a good amount of that had been omitted, and the whole connecting with the land for all its power was not so disturbing. It just wasn’t what I was hoping for.
***I received this copy from Del Rey Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.***