Had potential but didn’t quite get there.
This is set in Ireland in a future where the Sidhe, or the Tuatha de Danaan, have reappeared to get their vengeance on all Irish people after being trapped in a kind of hell for the last few thousand years. Ireland has been cut off from the rest of the world and all teenage children are ‘called’ to survive in the Grey Lands for twenty-four hours, though back in Ireland they will only be gone for three minutes. No one knows when they will be called.
Our main POV is Nessa, who is crippled, isn’t expected to survive but we get most of the story from her perspective. The story is set in a training camp/school which is set up to train kids to survive the experience, with some chapters from a person’s perspective when they called.
I don’t know what I expected from this book but it wasn’t this. It was billed as a kind of Irish Hunger Games (very original) and there were definite elements of that. The harsh training and the fact that the chances of survival are minuscule all add to that comparison. I think I was hoping for more from the Sidhe point of view or that there would be more time spent in the Grey Lands but there was hardly any of that. Instead most of the book’s focus was on the training and the interpersonal relationships between the students. That again could have been fine but it all came off as more the stereotypical bully and lackeys up against our noble hero protagonist and friends. There was also lots of mooning over relationships.
Honestly I just thought the whole Conor arc was pointless. Like there is enough menace and danger to the protagonists in the story anyway without having to take up more than half of the book dealing with the social pecking order at a school. I found it boring and unnecessary. The Sidhe were severely underused and I hope they are explored more in the sequel. The problem is I read the blurb for the next one and couldn’t face it. Maybe some day I’ll get around to it.
There are good points. What we do learn about the Sidhe and the treaty are really interesting and I love that the author has portrayed them more true to legend; they’re vicious, cruel and mercurial. The glimpses we get on how Ireland has had to adjust to be being cut off, and the loss of so many young is also tantalising but again not enough time is spent on it which is a shame. There is a brilliant book in here somewhere but was kind of wasted by throwing in too many tropes.
2.5 rounded up.