“When you have the Gift, your life is not your own.”
I was born to a family that harnessed the winds and could read futures in fire and water. Yet my mother kept her secrets.
Then the werewolf came, sharing his madness.
Now it’s my turn to keep secrets….
Descended from powerful magic-users, but ignorant of her heritage, young Alfreda Sorensson learns magic and wisdom from her extended family in an alternate early 1800s Michigan Territory.
This blurb came from Book View Café.
I have been relatively vocal about saying that if an author has a website, they don’t need to have a blog just a place for me to find out what is coming out next, what is out now, what was out in the past and where I can buy them. However, if an author does have a blog one of the things I love is seeing what they have read and enjoyed. I was browsing through Laura Anne Gilman’s blog about five months ago when she had a book recommendation post. She was recommending Night Called and made mention that she felt it belonged on the shelf with The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. I you have been following us for a while you know that I absolutely LOVE Robin McKinley and tend to re-read both The Hero and The Crown and The Blue Sword on a regular basis so that statement sent me on a clicking frenzy to get to the blurb. I really don’t know why I bothered to read the blurb because the combination of who recommended it and the recommendation itself I knew I was going to buy it. Life happened to get in my reading way so I didn’t manage to read Night Calls until after the New Year when I was dealing with the post holiday slump. After I finished reading it I knew three different things. First, I really hoped she Kimbriel was writing more Alfreda stories. Second, I HAD to review this and spread the word. And finally Gilman gives good book recs.
Night Calls is like an epic fantasy/alternate historic world coming of age with a heroine as the central character. Alfreda lived in a rather small town and dealt with the usual trials and tribulations of growing up and trying to fit in while being slightly different. Then after the visit by a werewolf Alfreda learned she was part of a world that she didn’t know existed. This was a world well known to her family, but her mother’s fears about the very real dangers kept Alfreda ignorant until it became obvious she was in even more danger with her lack of knowledge. Not only was she in danger, but for some reason her town seemed to attract a growing number of creatures or supernatural entities who thought of humans as prey.
Told from Alfreda’s perspective as she learns about this new aspect to hear world and the role she can play in it I found this story an absolute delight. Alfreda did not have all the answers, nor was she all-powerful but she was determined to learn and do the best she could to help deal with the problems. In addition to learning about her abilities, Alfreda was still dealing with school, first crushes, and adults disregarding her thoughts because of her age. I loved the combination of challenges both in her day-to-day life and in her training/apprenticeship.
Kimbriel also created a very interesting world. The merging of magic and supernatural with rustic historic living and superstition was very deftly done. I enjoyed the hints that not all supernatural was evil and sometimes what appeared evil was created by humanity itself. The supporting cast was also evenly balanced, they weren’t all good, bad, or indifferent but appeared to be fully fleshed out. I also think several other families from Alfreda’s town have secrets of their own I am looking forward to discovering. While the focus of the story is Alfreda, her training came from both men and women, which I loved because it showed gender wasn’t a limitation.
Night Calls was a wonderful reminder of why I read epic coming of age fantasy for years and still hope to find that sense of adventure and wonder. I will also agree with Gilman that Night Calls is one I plan to re-read right along with McKinley’s stories. I am looking forward to Alfreda’s continuing adventures.
I give Night Calls an A