Published: 1st June 2014 by Pan Macmillan AU
Format: Paperback, 444 pages
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Neryn has made a long journey to perfect her skills as a Caller. She has learned the wisdom of water and of earth; she has journeyed to the remote isles of the west and the forbidding mountains of the north. Now, Neryn must travel in Alban's freezing winter to seek the mysterious White Lady, Guardian of Air. For only when Neryn has been trained by all four Guardians will she be ready to play her role in toppling the tyrannical King Keldec.
But the White Lady is not what she seems. Trapped with Whisper, her fey protector, Neryn is unable to send word to her beloved Flint, who is in danger of being exposed as a double agent. When a new threat looms and the rebellion is in jeopardy, Neryn must enter Keldec's court, where one false move could see her culled. She must stand up against forces more powerful than any she has confronted before, and face losses that could break her heart.
The Caller is a hard book to review. When I turned the last page of this book, I couldn’t help but be sad. I’ve grown to love the characters in the Shadowfell series and the world they live in, and I’ve found it hard to say goodbye.
Neryn has gone through so much in the last three books that I sometimes can’t believe she’s the same shy, uncertain girl I met in Shadowfell. She’s really grown into her own and has taken her future in her own hands. Although she never forgot her place in the rebellion, and deferred to Tali (the leader of the rebels) when needed, I love that Neryn wasn’t afraid to follow her instincts and support her friends.
I can’t talk about this series without sighing over Flint. Flint breaks my heart 🙁 He and Neryn are so perfect together, and I love that the author hasn’t tried to make their story all about how they mightn’t be able to trust each other or something silly like that. Their romance is epic in every sense and I love that they never lose sight of their goal of a united Alban where they are free to be together.View Spoiler »I didn’t agree with the decision to keep sex as something the two of them had to earn at the end of the book. I understand that they couldn’t bring a child into the world, and so they were abstaining, but surely they had some sort of protection they could use (sheep’s intestine was popular back in the day). I think this was a really good opportunity to bring up safe, consensual sex, and instead we were treated to about six variations of ‘we can’t lie together as man and wife’ and ‘we slept chastely that one time we were together’. In fact, I think this speaks to my one and only frustration about The Caller: that the author seemed to continually under-estimate her audience and simplified too many things. « Hide Spoiler
Although I enjoyed the storyline in this book, I think that it could have been more ambitious. I’m left wondering whether the author felt that simpler plot-lines would work best for a YA audience, but my opinion is that everything went a little too easily and most of the cast came out too unscathed for it to be realistic of the kind of rebellion they lead. Their success was never in any doubt, and the key characters weren’t in real danger.
In addition to the Shadowfell world, which is based on Scotland, I really enjoyed getting to know more about the Good Folk and the Guardians (especially the White Lady). I’m fascinated by the fantasy element in this series and loved seeing everything come together in this book, and for the human and canny populations of Alban come together for the rebellion.
I say goodbye to Neryn, Flint, and the other rebels with a heavy heart. I’ve loved adventuring with them, and think that Marillier’s YA fantasy series will be enjoyed by those who like character driven stories set in exciting new worlds.