‘Waer‘, SCBWI West member Meg Caddy’s debut, has been on my TBR list since its release a few months ago. I was keen to see what caught the eye of Text and led to its shortlisting in the Text Prize (and a contract!).
Getting a contract as a previously unpublished author seems about as easy as brushing your hair with a glue stick. So I LOVE reading debuts. Half of me enjoys hearing a new voice and celebrating their success. I firmly believe that the more great books published, the more kids will want to read.
One writer’s success is a win for all writers.
The other half of me hopes I will pick up that final, vital hint about how to write a novel publishers will latch on to.
So, what did I discover in Waer?
- Seamless and brave world-building
- Two vivid POVs
- A decidedly unexpected twist.
And beware (be waer?) (sorry) the odd, tiny little spoiler ahead.
A world you can feel
Caddy has created a world of great depth, and it was one of the highlights of the book for me. Rulers, invaders, religion, myths (or are they??), cities above and cities below. This is a place dreamed of and written into being and then polished until it absolutely shone.
I can’t think of any other fantasy world that this reminds me of. It’s brand new, and I love that.
Two unique first-person POVs
Nice. The story is narrated by Lowell (gentle nice-guy, family-loving, happy-to-be-waer waer) and Lycaea (angry and abused, crazy-family, hates-being-waer waer) and it’s a clever way of putting the story together. They each take a chapter. Oh, but let’s not forget Kaebha, the evil torturer who starts us off on the journey.
Because there’s no way you can forget her…
Lowell and Lycaea each have solid arcs, relevant to the plot and natural-feeling. Personally, I would have liked a tiny touch more foreshadowing of the romance that developed between the two of them by the end. Not just because I’m a sucker for a romantic sub-plot, it also would have increased my dread levels as I kept reading and realised there was something far-far worse I didn’t yet know about Lycaea. And Lowell had no idea either. And it was going to hurt to find out.
Which leads me to…
The hang-on-a-moment oh-my-goodness-I-didn’t-see-that-coming clever-and-twisted plot twist
I’m not going to tell you. You’ll have to read the book. Suffice to say it’s done well and I loved that it was there. I didn’t see it coming.
I’m not suggesting I’m so clever, that a plot twist I don’t spot is special. But… it is nice to be surprised. I thought I’d worked it all out.
I hadn’t. Yay!