Terrific new children’s fantasy: ‘The Callers’ by Kiah Thomas
August 15, 2022
The Callers is a fabulous new book for middle-grade readers, particularly those who enjoy immersion in a skillfully drawn fantasy world that prompts consideration of the challenges facing our own.
Quin is the son of Adriana, the powerful head of the Council of Callers who rule the continent of Elipsom. ‘Calling’, the ability to conjure anything out of thin air, is in the DNA of his family and has been for generations.
But Quin is different. He cannot Call, which puts him at odds with his mother and his talented sister Davinia, and also with the expectations of his world.
When he discovers that the objects Callers bring into Elipsom are actually taken from another place where people also live, he decides to do something to change this.
He meets Allie, a girl who is also on the path to correct this long-standing injustice, and together they embark on a quest to preserve the future of Allie’s land. But Quin is now heading for a headlong collision with his own family.
This novel can be read as a sustained and sensitive metaphor for the risks of the environmental degradation facing our own planet, and also for the injustices perpetrated by centuries of colonialism. Is it fair that some should benefit from other’s loss?
The story is deeply engrossing and I loved that there was no need for pitched battles or physical violence in Quin’s and Allie’s efforts to change their world. The two work together, using their existing skills – and some previously undiscovered talents – to overcome the obstacles in their way.
Quin is uncertain, confused about his place in his family and society. Allie, on the other hand, is passionate and courageous and she shows Quin the reality of their two worlds, and how he can live in line with his own beliefs and feelings. There are many profound questions addressed in this slim novel, but it is such a great story that it’s never a lecture. I really cared about Quin and Allie and their quest.
It’s also, in a way, a coming-of-age story, about growing up and seeing your world, and the adults in your life, through a different lens:
His head was throbbing. How would he ever know what he believed anymore? Half of him wanted to simply dismiss what Allie was telling him. It would be easier to go on believing what he’d always known to be true. And who was this girl to tell him that every single thing about his life was a lie? What could she know?
The Callers p86
I loved this book right away and I hope Kiah Thomas writes more stories like this.
The Callers was published by Harper Collins Children’s Books in May 2022. My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.