Friday, November 28, 2014

Review: The Caller by Juliet Marillier

Title: The Caller
Author: Juliet Marillier
Series: Shadowfell, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: 9 September 2014

In the final book in this gripping, romantic fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of Robin McKinley, Kristin Cashore, and Shannon Hale, Neryn’s band of rebels reach their climactic confrontation with the king. The stunning conclusion to the story that began with Shadowfell and Raven Flight is full of romance, intrigue, magic, and adventure.

Just one year ago, Neryn had nothing but a canny skill she barely understood and a faint dream that the legendary rebel base of Shadowfell might be real. Now she is the rebels’ secret weapon, and their greatest hope for survival, in the fast-approaching ambush of King Keldec at Summerfort.

The fate of Alban itself is in her hands. But to be ready for the bloody battle that lies ahead, Neryn must first seek out two more fey Guardians to receive their tutelage. Meanwhile, her beloved, Flint, has been pushed to his breaking point as a spy in the king’s court—and is arousing suspicion in all the wrong quarters.

At stake lies freedom for the people of Alban, a life free from hiding for the Good Folk—and a chance for Flint and Neryn to finally be together.

I'm finding this, the final book in the Shadowfell series, a bit hard to review. Ever since first picking up Shadowfell and being introduced to Neryn, and the land of Alban that she inhabited, I was invested in this story. I grew to love the characters, the world, the magic the permeated it. My heart was with them as they were crushed under the tyrannical rule of King Keldec. My hopes lifted with the rebellion. Trust came with difficulty - and in fits and starts. I began to see how it could be done.

Raven's Flight lifted me even higher. With a tighter story, the stakes raised, and my heart already connected to the characters and the world, I bit my nails as I raced through the book. I knew the entire time I was reading it that I wouldn't get the climax and resolution that I so wanted, because there was one more book to come. But I couldn't help but needing to know how Neryn, and everyone else I loved was. Were we any closer to the freedom that Alban so deserved?

When I finished Raven's Flight I had no idea how I was going to manage the wait to The Caller. Somehow, with a few re-reads thrown in, I managed it. And it was definitely worth the wait. The Caller was, nearly, everything I could have asked for in a concluding chapter of this story I'd become so intensely invested in. And if this review were to be about the first 95% of the book I would have easily given it ALL the stars, an A+, everything I could have.

There was tension that kept me on the edge of my seat, enough emotion to have me near tears, characters that I ached for - that I wanted to simply have the peace and happiness they so deserved. Everything I could have possibly asked for upon finishing Raven's Flight was in The Caller. I could find no fault with it what-so-ever. Because of spoilery reasons I'm having a hard time talking about everything I loved. There were shocks, and drama, hard choices, and good instincts. Every decision was hard made and thought over. Neryn and company realized the possible ramifications of their choices and made the conscious choice to deal with those consequences, if need be. I loved them for that. Things aren't always easy, there's not always a right answer; sometimes you just have to do the best you can with what you have.

Then came the climax - as fraught with tension and hope as it should be. Sorrow and joy. Love and hate. It was all there for the taking. My emotions were in a whirlwind of ups and downs. I was both proud of and terrified for Neryn. She had accomplished so much - could she and her rebels do this last, biggest, thing? When it was over I think I breathed for the first time in 20 minutes.

Five percent of the book left to tie everything up - and this is where I'm left slightly disappointed. How can you possibly tie up everything that these characters, this world, have been through in just a single chapter? With a hint, a hint of what could be, what might be. It wasn't enough for me. There's too much left to be decided, too much left to be done. Yes, I can imagine it for myself, but I would have liked more. More time to catch my breath, relax into new reality, and see where things were going to go now. It's really hard to get into this without spoilers....I felt I only got to see part of the resolution, not the entirety. There's a lot of doubt left in my mind about where things are heading, and after how much I came to care for so many of these characters - I want more surety.

So. How to grade a novel that had me breathless throughout, and then left me feeling let down at the very, very last bit of the end. It's such a minor thing, the denouement of the novel, the place where it all comes to conclusion. Usually, I'm one that will say "less is more" here. Don't show and tell me everything - let me imagine it for myself. But here, I think, there was a little too much left to imagination. And, yet, this book - and especially this series is SO worth reading. I'd highly recommend it to anyone that has a love for fantasy and great characters. After all, Juliet Marillier only left me wanting more.

Grade: A

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