The Waking Land (Spoiler Free!) Review

“This is why magic is dangerous. It lures you in. It makes you curious.”

-Callie Bates, The Waking Land 

Hey guys! Not too long ago, I was very lucky to receive a beautiful hardback of The Waking Land by Callie Bates, from the lovely people at Chapter 5 books! I devoured it one Sunday morning and absolutely loved it.

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Here’s the official blurb from inside the front jacket:

It’s been fourteen years since King Antoine took Elanna hostage. Fourteen years since her father’s rebellion failed. Fourteen years spent being raised by the man who condemned her people to misery. A man she’s come to love as a father.

Now twenty, Elanna is about to be taken prisoner once again…but this time by her father’s mysterious right-hand man. Her father wants to reignite his rebellion, with Elanna as a figurehead. He will tell his followers she is the legendary Wildegarde reborn, a sorceress who could make the very earth tremble.

But what no one knows is that magic really does flow through Elanna’s veins. Now she must decide which side she’s on, and whether she’ll use her powers for mercy…or revenge.

The Waking Land is the first book in a new trilogy and I loved the fantasy land that was brought richly to life by Callie Bates. Rather than being the stereotypical Medieval fantasy land, this one was based on more of a 19th century world, which instantly intrigued me. Elanna was a great, strong heroine and I liked that she knew her own mind; she struggles to trust people and she’s torn between two different lands, two different father figures, leaving her relying more on herself and her own instincts. As well she should: This is a land where everyone has an ulterior motive and betrayal can come from any direction, not to mention the constantly lurking danger. The main plot wends around Elanna’s journey of self-discovery and if she will or won’t accept her magical destiny, not to mention her awakening from the Stockholm syndrome of being taken from the age of 5 and fed constant lies about her home land, until she believes them.

There was some romance in The Waking Land, which was a nice counterpart to the more adventurous parts, and kept the whole plot moving along at a good pace. The earth magic that Elanna possesses was a really fun element, and I look forward to seeing how that’s developed in the next two books, as well as the romance! You all know I like a little romance, so having two characters to ship was nice. In fact, I thought that all of the secondary characters were well fleshed out, and it was great to see some good female friendships in there as well. The plot was quite twisty at times, and I was quite engrossed the whole way through. It does start off slow and brooding, but I enjoy a brooding, atmospheric read, so this didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the book, I enjoyed soaking up the beautiful writing and becoming gently immersed in this fantasy world.

If you’re like me and you love your fantasies to be deliciously atmospheric and gorgeously written, then give this one a go! The main character is 19, so it falls between older YA and young NA and crosses over nicely. I’m giving this one 5/5 stars because I just adored it!

Has anyone else read this one? What did you think of it? What fantasies have you all been reading lately?

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