I review The Call by the wonderful and incredibly talented Peadar Ó Guilín.
The Hunger Games meets horror in this unforgettable thriller where only one thing is certain . . . you will be Called.
Thousands of years ago, humans banished the Sidhe fairy race to another dimension. The beautiful, terrible Sidhe have stewed in a land of horrors ever since, plotting their revenge . . . and now their day has come.
Fourteen-year-old Nessa lives in a world where every teen will be “Called.” It could come in the middle of the day, it could come deep in the night. But one instant she will be here, and the next she will wake up naked and alone in the Sidhe land. She will be spotted, hunted down, and brutally murdered. And she will be sent back in pieces by the Sidhe to the human world . . . unless she joins the rare few who survive for twenty-four hours and escape unscathed.
Nessa trains with her friends at an academy designed to maximize her chances at survival. But as the days tick by and her classmates go one by one, the threat of her Call lurks ever closer . . . and with it the threat of an even more insidious danger closer to home.
I heard about The Call when it was still just a twinkle in Peadar’s eye. I was hobbling around with a walking stick at WorldCon, and he collared me into telling him about my illness with the promise of free coffee. He told me about a Hunger Games-style story, where teenagers fight for their right to live (and party, maybe), and how he wanted the protagonist to be different, to be struggling with a disability on top of everything else. So we chatted, and I heard his ideas with the excitement of a kid at Christmas.
Although he didn’t use my illness in the end, Peadar manages to perfectly describe the space between knowing you need to take more care of yourself, and wanting to be the same as everyone else. As someone with a disability, I don’t want pity, I don’t want more or less than anyone else, but sometimes I need to make difference choices, and have different options available to me. Nessa’s thoughts portray these emotions well, and so, as a grown woman, I found myself relating to this teenage girl far more than I expected to.
I don’t think I could survive the training necessary for The Call. It sounds horrible, and the schools are nothing like Hogwarts. The Sidhe are complicated enemies, and you’ll find it difficult to resist feeling some sympathy for them. The characters are varied and colourful, and Peadar manages to bring them fully to life with their chapters, and particularly their Calls. He doesn’t hold back with the violence, the despair, but there’s hope there too.
Expected out later this year, The Call is a grim, terrifying, clench-your-fists and gasp-out-loud kind of story that takes hold and won’t let go.
Could you survive The Call? Keep an eye on Peadar’s Twitter (@TheCallYA) for updates,
and look out for my Q&A with the author coming soon.
To find out more about Peadar’s previous work, check out this interview.