I’ve been looking to broaden my YA reading for a while now.
I’ve read the obvious (‘Yer predictable, Harry!’) and dabbled with Rysa Walker’s excellent time travel adventures, The Chronos Files, but otherwise I’ve not read much YA fiction since I was a YA. There’s a lot of it out there, and finding something new to sample has been an excellent way to avoid editing chores on my own YA book.
Then I noticed that someone who had retweeted my podcast had a YA Fantasy series out. Seemed like a chance to get some YA research in, and thank her for the RT, so I picked up book one of the Gateway series. Here then, are my thoughts on The Calling by Louise G White.
Carolyn is a teenage girl who suffered a unique tragedy, and is dealing with it in an unusual way: her mother and brother were snatched away by a magical gateway that also triggered a change in Carolyn. Now she is called to other gateways to fight demons with her own new-found magical abilities. Along the way she encounters demons, wizards and secret agents, discovers more about her family’s history, and struggles through a complicated first relationship. With a shape-shifting snake demon.
The setting for The Calling is very interesting. Earth is being protected from the other realms of demons by an organisation of wizards and agents, but the organisation is factionalised and working at seemingly cross-purposes. We see only glimpses of the demons’ realms, but they too seem politically complex and sophisticated, more so than Carolyn realises at the start of the book.
The main cast are likable enough. Although it’s clear that not all of them are entirely on Carolyn’s side, if they could just bring themselves to talk honestly with each other, a lot of their problems would just drop away. But that’s teen angst in YA for you, I guess.
If there is one note about The Calling that I find troubling, it is how much of Carolyn’s fate is outside her own control. Between mind controls, compelling and sudden unexplained bonds Carolyn comes across as… powerful but weak? My favourite part of the book is early on when Carolyn is on the run stealing things from Argos. The more Carolyn is tied into the plot, the weaker, and honestly less sympathetic her character becomes. Carolyn has a strange arc, that leads almost inevitably to darker places.
In summary, I enjoyed The Calling, and will swing around to book 2 once I’ve worked through some more of my TBR list. I will have to ding a point for my uncomfortableness with Carolyn’s lack of control, but if I read book 2 and it pays off with Carolyn triumphantly taking back her life, I’ll come back and apologise! My rating 3.5 stars.