The Call by Peadar o Guilin
|The Call by Peadar o Guilin by Peadar o Guilin|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Fabulous near future dystopian set up with a narrative infused with Irish myth and legend. Could you survive The Call? We loved this!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: August 2016|
|Publisher: David Fickling|
Longlisted for the 2018 CILIP Carnegie Medal
The Aes Sidhe are back. And in their quest to win back Ireland from humankind, they have placed a magical seal around the entire island. Nobody can get in or out. North? South? Doesn't matter any more. What does matter is The Call. At some point during adolescence, every teenager is transported to the Sidhe realm, that grey, colourless land to which they were banished thousands of years before. If they can evade the vengeful faerie kind for a full day (just three minutes in the human world) then their lives are spared, although they are often sent back with horrific mutilations. Fewer than one in ten children survive.
Schools in Ireland have dropped all formal education. Instead, they resemble army training camps and prepare their children for the ordeal ahead. The more survivors, the more future weddings. The more future weddings, the more chance of children. And the more children, the better the chance for humankind to hold on to the Emerald Isle.
Nessa is an unlikely candidate to survive her calling because her legs are withered from polio - eradicated diseases have returned to this cut-off community. But Nessa's determination knows no bounds and she has dedicated life to the preparation. She's far beyond the commitment of mouthy Megan, her best friend, Anto, the gentle, peaceful boy she's trying not to fall in love with, and even Conor, the college's biggest bully.
But has she done enough?
Ooh! I loved, loved, loved this story. It's rooted deep in Irish mythology and landscape and at times has an almost mystic feel. Yet this deep awareness of the underlying mythos doesn't detract at all from the pace or the tension because the action is utterly remorseless. Neither does it undermine what is a very frank look at teenage life, with all its troubles and pitfalls - love affairs, bullying, mean girls. It's all there. Few stories manage to be simultaneously lyrical and realistic, but The Call achieves it with ease.
I loved Nessa, who is courage personified. She has the dedication of a samurai and is brutally honest, with herself as much as everybody else. I can't imagine a single reader who won't be willing her to succeed, especially in the wake of a ruthless body count. Most of the narrative is told from her point of view but interspersed chapters deal with her peers as they are Called one by one. They endure some bloody, bloody horrors and few of them survive.
There are a good many survival game stories about at the moment, but The Call feels fresh and interesting and powerful. It's beautifully paced, remorseless and is peopled with characters you can believe in. I couldn't put it down. I understand a sequel - The Cauldron - will follow, and I'll be first in line to read it.
If you want to read another fresh take on the Sidhe, try Firebrand by Gillian Philip, this time set in sixteenth century Scotland.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Call by Peadar o Guilin at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.