The Shield

Don’t read in the dark

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With Halloween just around the corner, many are trying to get into the holiday spirit by watching scary movies, carving up pumpkins and visiting local Haunted Houses. However, if you wish to experience shivers crawling up your spine and the thrill of being creeped out, I highly recommend picking up the novel “The Call” written by Peadar O’Guilin.

If you thought the aspect of “The Hunger Games” was terrifying, it seems like a playdate for teenagers compared to the horrendous fight for survival that is the Call. Set in future Ireland where the country has been cut off from the rest of the world, faeries known as the Sídhe take vengeance out on humankind for taking Ireland away from them by making every teenager sometime in their adolescence experience the Call.

The Call is when a teenager is unexpectedly whisked away to the hell that is known as the Gray Land, where they spend 24 hours that is merely 3 minutes in the human world being hunted down by the Sídhe and trying to survive the 24 hours so they can return to their world. Because of this, teenagers spend their whole lives training and preparing for when they are Called, even though people rarely return alive and unmutilated.

The Call is as unpleasant as it sounds, and after reading the book you will be glad you do not live in a world as terrifying as the world these teenagers live in. Throughout the story you are introduced to many different teens that attend an academy that serves to train them, and as each and every one of them are Called, you find out just how awful the Sídhe are. The whole time they are hunting the teenagers, they are happy and treating it all as an innocent game. They never act evil or menacing. The faeries smile and laugh as they hunt their prey, even if some of their own are killed in the process.

It is very terrifying how gleeful they are when they kill and mutilate characters. When they mutilate people, they describe it as “making them beautiful”. They even wear clothes made from human skin and body parts. And all the monsters in the Gray Land are made from trapped humans, such as hunting dogs made from stretched out human beings. Very messed up and bone-chilling.

Despite the horrors that awaited the characters, there were many that were extremely interesting and admirable due to their strong ambitions to survive. Especially the main character Nessa. What I found admirable about the story itself was that Nessa has a disability, and because of it she works harder than anyone else at the academy to be able to stand a chance at surviving the Call. Even though her teachers and peers pity her and are convinced she will not survive the Call, Nessa never lets others dull her sharp confidence. She is a strong character who proves disabilities don’t stop you from being able to accomplish things, even if you live in a world of fear.

I would definitely define this novel as a horror story. Not only because of the thrilling grotesque and dark atmosphere, but because it leaves you grateful that you do not live in a world with vengeful Sídhe that steal you away to a place made of living nightmares where you have more chances of dying than surviving.

“The Call” is a blood-chilling, heart-stopping nightmare that awaits to haunt your sleep. If you read this novel, be sure not to read it in the dead of night unless you wish to be haunted by the images of grinning, vengeful Sídhe who can’t wait to sink their fingers into your skin.

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University of Southern Indiana's student publication
Don’t read in the dark