Grey Land #1: The Call – Peadar Ó Guilín

What was I thinking?! I discovered this book in 2016 and gave my initial read ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. What?? This is clearly a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ book! I’d borrow more stars right now if that was possible!

Put to the ultimate test for your survival, you will find out exactly what you’re made of when you’re Called; literally if you’re not quick enough, wily enough or lucky enough. At some point during your adolescence you will be Called to the Grey Land. Your body will return, dead, alive or somewhere in between, exactly three minutes and four seconds after you disappear, but in the Grey Land you must survive an entire day of horror beyond measure.

Cowards have the opportunity to become heroes. Those who are certain they will survive aren’t so sure once they breathe in the acrid air and encounter the first of the Sídhe (fairy, in English) who want to play with them, agonisingly twisting and reshaping their body beyond recognition.

‘The Nation must survive! The future is ours!’

With only one out of ten people surviving the Call it’s wise to not get too emotionally attached to anyone. However it’s impossible not to have a few of the teens penetrate your protective emotional armour. My favourite character doesn’t survive their Call but their time in the Grey Land proved to me exactly why I loved them from the moment I met them.

While at first glance it seems clear who the monsters of this story are, the longer I read the more I questioned my initial judgement. It appears there are monsters on both sides of this war and I felt some surprising empathy for the Sídhe as I learned more of their history.

This is the spirit of the Call itself. Deadly and inevitable and imminent.

This is one seriously messed up fairy (Sídhe) tale and I love it! It’s a brutal and at times quite gory story, with characters I cheered on to survive (or otherwise), and locations that came to life in my mind. This is definitely not a world I would ever want to visit because there’s no way I’d survive the Call, but I was fully immersed the entire time in this imaginative, well thought out world.

I have the Hugo Awards to thank for finally getting my act together to reread it. The Invasion is a finalist in the 2019 Hugo Awards category, Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, so I had the perfect excuse to revisit the awesome horror of the Grey Land in The Call.

Books within the book: I wish I could get my hands on the hundred page History of the Sídhe book mentioned in The Call, as well as all the volumes of the Testimonies.

Content warnings include ableism, sexual assault, bullying, physical assaults and torture, mental health, and brief mentions of family violence and suicidal ideation.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Imagine a world where you might disappear any minute, only to find yourself alone in a grey sickly land, with more horrors in it than you would ever wish to know about. And then you hear a horn and you know that whoever lives in this hell has got your scent and the hunt has already begun.

Could you survive the Call?

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