Book: Call Down The Hawk (Dreamer #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
BECHDEL TEST: PASS-Farooq-Lane and Liliana talk about the end of the world.
Content Warnings: Blood & gore, death, suicide, murder, vomit
Obviously when I heard there was going to be a spin-off of The Raven Cycle centring around Ronan, I was really excited, I love the whole Raven Cycle world and was looking forward to going back to it. I have to admit though, I didn’t love Call Down The Hawk as much as I expected. The plot was kind of slow and meandering, which was to be expected, it’s Maggie Stiefvater’s style but it didn’t have the great characters and central friendship dynamics which made The Raven Cycle so great. It wasn’t all bad, I liked the developments when it came to dreaming and the end of the story felt like it was building to something exciting in the next book, but overall, it just wasn’t quite what I expected it would be. Here is a short synopsis of the book:
The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.
And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.
Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.
Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.
Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .
My main problem with this book is the same problem I have with most Maggie Stiefvater books, it takes forever to get going! This wasn’t a massive problem for me with The Raven Cycle because I loved the characters so much that I didn’t care, but when the large majority of the cast are new and you’re not already invested, the slow pacing of the plot becomes more of a problem and it felt like basically nothing was happening until right at the very end. It was also perhaps a little longer than I would have liked, it definitely felt like it could have been trimmed a little.
There are three main characters in this book: Ronan, Hennessy and Farooq-Lane, and their storylines feel largely disjointed for most of the book. We do eventually get to a point where all the storylines finally connect, but that’s about 3/4 of the way through the book, which means the plot doesn’t feel cohesive. Plotting has never really been Maggie Stiefvater’s strong point and there are definitely messy aspects to the way the plot unravels in this book as well.
In terms of the new characters, I liked Hennessy and her clones, I thought the whole girl who dreamt copies of herself into existence was pretty cool and it felt very Orphan Black which is a show I really enjoyed. It’s quite confusing initially because the two main girls are both Jordan Hennessy (the original goes by Hennessy, the copy goes by Jordan) but it settles pretty quickly. Also if you are going to make your character British, then at least try to do some research into British slang, no one here says “crumbs” or “bruv”! I genuinely don’t understand how Hennessy doesn’t suffer more with sleep deprivation though, if I only had twenty minutes sleep at a time, I would be seriously grouchy!
However, aside from Jordan (the copy), the copies don’t really get much fleshing out and I feel like there was no real need for Hennessy to have so many copies, Stiefvater could have still had the whole, she gets a tattoo for each copy and the tattoos are killing her plotline without having all the copies around, especially when they barely had any personality of their own. It also doesn’t look massively great when Hennessy and her copies are the only POC characters in the book, and the copies quite regularly die.
Carmen Farooq-Lane (referred to mostly by her surname throughout the book) was kind of an enigma to me. I didn’t really get who she was as a character, I didn’t really understand her motivations and I couldn’t really place her role in the book, since up till the very end, she doesn’t really have anything to do with either Hennessy or Ronan.
I really liked getting to see more of the Lynch family dynamic here, that was one of the highlights of this book for me. It was brilliant to get more of insight into Declan and I definitely came out of this book with more sympathy for him, he’s basically spent his entire life trying to clean up his brother’s messes and he’s only in his 20’s! It was also really heartbreaking to see Matthew come to terms with his origins (whilst providing some much needed comic relief at his questions over internal organs). We only really got Ronan’s insights into his family in TRC, so it was nice to be able to see the other side in this book, and the Lynch family dynamic went some way to delivering on the missing banter from the Gangsey in this book (though I still definitely missed them!).
It was cool to have the role of dreamers expanded in this book and learn more about their abilities, though it seems strange that nightwash and the fact that dreamers are unable to go too far from the ley lines wasn’t mentioned at all in The Raven Cycle.
I was very confused as to what Bryde and the Lace actually were though, and I’m hoping that gets explained more in the next book. I also want to know more about Mor Corra, Niall’s clone and Boudicca because those things come up but are kind of brushed over and not really explained.
Maggie Stiefvater’s writing was lovely as always and the dreamlike quality of it definitely worked well for this book.
I was kind of expecting there to be more Adam in this? Don’t get me wrong, I loved what we did see and the fact that Adam’s name in Ronan’s contacts is Management made me chuckle, but I just wish we’d got to see them together a little more.
Parsifal’s OCD was well done (also #ownvoices as Maggie Stiefvater also has OCD) but I wish it had been named on page especially as it’s something that you don’t see all that often.
The moderators are supposedly the villains in this book but they never really feel actively scary or threatening? I suppose because their purpose is kind of woolly, “stop the end of the world” and we don’t really know how or why dreamers are meant to be responsible for the end of the world so the moderators don’t feel like an active threat.
Ronan’s arc in this of struggling with his friends moving on and going in different directions, whilst he wants more for his life and feels kind of stuck where he is was really great and felt very relatable! It was nice to see Ronan take more of a starring role here and see him really come into his own with his dreaming, though I will say, again, the race dynamics feel a bit off where Ronan (the white character) is brilliant at dreaming and Hennessy (the black character) is unable to dream anything other than copies of herself.
There were way too many random character POVs in this that didn’t really seem to add anything, and I didn’t really get the point of them.
The whole ending was also really confusing, I didn’t really understand anything that was going on because the last few chapters were so rushed. I don’t know where Hennessy and Ronan went, I have no idea what was going on with the Moderators and it just felt like the book was almost unfinished? It definitely didn’t end in a natural place, that’s for sure!
Overall, there were definitely promising aspects to this book, and I will still be reading onto the sequel, but it didn’t live up to my expectations: the pacing was off, the plot was a little messy and I missed the fun and humour from The Raven Cycle. I’m hoping that the second book in the trilogy will be better now that the groundwork has been made in this book.
My Rating: 3/5
My next review will be of my latest Netgalley read, Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust, which I’m almost done with.