Review: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land by Callie BatesThe Waking Land
Callie Bates
Del Rey Books
Published June 27, 2017

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About Waking the Land
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.

The Waking Land on AmazonMy Review
By far my favorite thing about this book is the rich imagery of the setting and the complex politics driving the story. The writing is excellent and the characters so easy to fall in love with.

That said, sometimes I did feel like, though the politics were really intriguing, sometimes the explanations went on a little long. It also gave the story much more of an adult fiction feel than a young adult feel, because while Elanna is caught up in finding her place among her people—adopted or biological—much of the story has to do with the political ramifications of her alliances and actions. The romantic relationship in the story also had more of an adult relationship feel to me than a teen relationship in the way the characters related to one another and how Elanna thought of her love.

Those things didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book, though they might make it less appealing to young readers. Hard to say. If you liked Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword or Leah Cypess’s Nightspell, you may want to snap up a copy of The Waking Land.

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

Cultural Elements
Elanna and her people have kind of a Scottish feel to them. Jahan is described as having dark curly hair and olive skin.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used very infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Sensual kissing between a young man and woman in her bedroom in one scene. Explicit sex in another scene. Other scenes include brief kissing. In more than one scene, Elanna is dressed only in an undergarment (though usually not for sexual reasons.)

Spiritual Content
Elanna has a magical connection with plants and the land. Ghosts of her ancestors visit and aid her in part of her journey. She briefly reflects on the difference between the gods worshipped in her adopted country versus the gods of her true homeland. She participates in a blood ritual several times as a part of trying to find her place among her people. She learns of another ritual, a legend in which a woman was said to “wed the land.” She participates in a celebration during which she and other participants become sexually aroused (they’re clothed and dancing around a fire.) She also learns of other mystic countrymen who travel large distances by walking “folds” of the land, which enable them to sort of jump from one place to another, skipping over the terrain between the two places.

Jahan and Elanna use magic to fight their enemies and rescue allies.

Violent Content
A poisoned mushroom kills the king, and his daughter plans to execute Elanna for his death. Several scenes include bloody clashes between soldiers of two groups. In at least one scene, soldiers attack young boys, gravely wounding one. Some battles prove fatal.

Drug Content
A poisoned mushroom kills a man. Brief references to alcohol. At one point, the prince becomes drunk and embarrasses himself with rude behavior.

The Waking Land on GoodreadsNote: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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