“The Calling Tree” is a rather unique and interesting book packed with action, intrigue, mystery, and immortality. It is wonderfully written by C. F. Waller and the audiobook edition is narrated by Wyatt Baker. The book opens by placing the reader into a scene where one immediately begins asking questions. Who are the good and the bad guys? Is the book futuristic, present, or glimpses back into the past? What is so special about these people being hunted down? No need to be concerned as all of these are answered as the book skillfully unravels to fill in all the gaps. If you enjoy books having covert societies living among us and the people assigned to track them down, I think you will like The Calling Tree. It has a feel of both a mystery and suspense with a mix of science fiction and a dash of paranormal.
What do you get when you have a society of immortals living amongst us, a special team of people hired to hunt down and destroy them, and nearly every page turn throws you a curve ball or plot twist? Well that is really what the premise of this book is centered upon. I enjoyed the book opening by hooking the reader with so many questions that it was hard to put it down until they each answered. I like the author’s use of descriptive language including his focus on the character’s looks and dress. Because of this, I felt I had a very good idea of who they were simply by how they dressed. This descriptiveness extended to the character’s emotions making them appear to be more human-like.
I felt the author did a decent amount of research involving human longevity or life extension. The reader is treated to some medical and genetic details involving telomeres cells which are a core component believed to be linked to the aging process. I did not feel I had to suspend belief in the immortals having some medical background in the field. It was not a deep-dive or long drawn-out dry discussion into the science of aging, but enough to whet one’s interest should you desire to do their own study on the subject. One of the things I found most interesting was that the term immortal does not equate to eternal life in this context. These “immortals” can and do die at the hands of the cleaning crew assigned to track them down.
At times, I found the writing to feel a bit forced or wandering, but as a whole I felt it was solid and enjoyable. Although the book can be read as a stand-alone, the ending does contain some open-ended plots that defiantly point to a series of future books; which is not a bad thing. Even with the book ending in an open fashion, the story itself is complete enough for the reader to be satisfied if they did not want to be tied to a series or have to wait for the next book to be released. Much of the first half of the book sets up the many characters, their roles, and the world they live in, and I’m sure much of this setup will be leveraged by any planned future books in the series.
Wyatt Baker performed the book’s audio narration, and generally he did an excellent job. At the time of this review, he has narrated a total of two books on audible, so a few slight issues with the audio would be expected. I did not find his narration to be in the top of those I have listened too, but by no means was he the worst. I felt he was able to voice the multiple characters quite well; even the female characters were done well. I would rate the book’s narration average, but this does not mean it was bad; just not exceptional. He was able to weave in a few audio special effects such as placing a slight echo when we were listening to a character’s inner voice. There were a few slightly noticeable volume inconstancies, but no other audio artifacts were noticeable when I listened; no page turns, swallows, or other background distractions. His deeper voice added to the suspense and at times dark feel to the book. I would need to listen to more book by this narrator to better rate his works.
A note to parents and younger readers, this book is really directed towards a mature audience. It includes some scenes of graphic and intense violence which may not be appropriate for younger hearers. The book includes some discussion around prostitution, drug use, and has some topics involving alcohol. I will say the author spared his readers from overly using vulgar or obscene language which appears to be more and more rare in many of today’s books.
In summary, I liked the book’s premise and the way the author revealed the story over time. The characters were complex, likeable, and I found myself caring for them and the actions they were required to take. The book includes elements of friendships and relationships and at times can be rather emotional. If you are one who likes mysteries which a hint of science fiction, I would recommend you pick up The Calling Tree in either audiobook or another format.