CM Magazine: The Call of the Rift: Flight.
________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 32. . . .April 20, 2018


The Call of the Rift: Flight.

Jae Waller.
Toronto, ON: ECW Press, 2018.
478 pp., trade pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-77041-354-2.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Kim Aippersbach.

*½ /4



I streaked through the forest, paws slamming the dirt, branches snagging my fur. My wolf body knew how to run. I’d never gone so fast in my life, but I knew exactly where to put my feet, how to make four legs coil and spring in perfect timing. From the moment I attuned, I heard shouting, clanging metal, whistling arrows, shrieking horses. The smell of blood followed—hot, metallic, mixed with the sweetness of sap and decay.

A horse with an empty saddle dashed past me. I rose into my human body, stumbling over a gnarled root. The charcoal fox keeping pace with me shifted into Nili. Birds swooped down, changed in midair and hit the ground running.

The Corvittai hadn’t fled the north barricade. A column of riders writhed along the path like a snake with a hundred heads. Spearmen and archers in leather armour, a few in steel plate, wooden shields painted with black kinaru. Spears cut the air, sending out sprays of blood.

We crashed into them like a wave. I hurled balls of ice at the soldiers, calling new ones as they left my hand. A rider fell from the saddle and met Fendul’s blade with his throat. Arrows hurtled past. Bodies littered the path in a tangle of crushed leaves and churned soil.


Call of the Rift: Flight is the first book of a fantasy series set in a fictional world similar to the Pacific Northwest. Kateiko belongs to one of the jouyen tribes; she has the ability to control water and to change into a wolf. Because she disagrees with her tribe’s rituals to honour the dead, she travels south to join a different tribe. She becomes embroiled in conflicts between colonist groups and falls in love with a colonist mage. The air spirit Suriel seems to be attacking villages and setting people against each other, and Kateiko tries to save colonists who don’t want to listen to a jouyen girl. In her attempts to communicate with Suriel and stop his aggressive behavior, Kateiko betrays the mage she loves and works with Parr, a local colonist leader. Kateiko’s tribe is attacked by the Corvittai, presumably following Suriel’s orders, but she learns that Parr was behind the attack. She kills Parr and the leader of the Corvittai, but Suriel is nowhere to be found.

      Call of the Rift: Flight has an extensively developed world, taking some inspiration from interactions between Coastal First Nations and European colonists, but with completely original religion, magic and history. The history is convoluted enough to require an appendix with a timeline. Unfortunately, the plot of Call of the Rift: Flight requires a deep understanding of this history and the relationships between several jouyen tribes and two foreign ethnic groups, and so the narrative involves a lot of explanation.

      For a story about magical and ethnic conflict, the pacing is slow. Dialog is stilted, often being used to convey information, and action scenes are confusing and labored. Character motivations are not always clear, and the magical/spiritual system is muddled.

      Kateiko does not have a convincing character arc. She makes choices based on what the plot needs her to do; other than saving people from Suriel, we have no idea what she actually wants. Teens will be frustrated with the romance: her relationship with Tiernan is not developed, and her decision to sleep with Parr is sudden and odd. In general, Call of the Rift: Flight does not read as a YA novel; the characters are all adults and Kateiko interacts with them as an adult.

      Waller has an epic vision with the potential for exploring cultural identity and prejudice and developing an interesting magic system, but the writing is not up to the task. Teen readers are unlikely to have the patience to unravel the story’s complications and will probably not find Kateiko an engaging protagonist.

Not Recommended.

Kim Aippersbach is a writer, editor and mother of three in Vancouver, BC.

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