Book Review: Child of the Kaites by Beth Wangler
With rich worldbuilding and an inspirational message of hope and bravery, Child of the Kaites takes readers on an unforgettable emotional journey, turning a familiar biblical story into something that is both more fantastical and more personal. The story follows Raiba, a runaway slave raised by benevolent spirits known as the kaites. Although it has been foretold that she will do great things and save her people from their oppression, when the story begins, young Raiba has all but given up on this destiny and seems content to live out a peaceful life in the home of her adoptive family. The arrival of some familiar faces from her past changes everything, and soon, Raiba finds herself on a journey that will challenge her physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as she tries to find a way to free her people.
The story is based on the story of Moses in the Bible, so it's no surprise that there are some strong religious and spiritual overtones here. Some of it felt a bit heavy-handed at times, at least for me, but overall those elements were woven into the story very well and I didn't feel like I was being preached to. The worldbuilding is fantastic, and it's clear that the author spent a lot of time and put a lot of attention to detail into crafting the setting and the various cultures of the people who inhabit it. Even if you're familiar with the story of Moses from the Bible, there are some unique elements here that will keep you engaged and curious about how things will progress. I especially loved the conflict between good and bad spirits - the kaites and the aivenkaites - and how that conflict manifested in a more tangible way that had a direct impact on the characters.
The characters themselves are also well-written, with Raiba serving as a strong narrator who grows and changes as the story progresses. There's a lot at stake for her, not just in terms of physical harm and life-or-death dangers, but arguably even more so on an emotional and spiritual level. I love a story that pulls readers deep into a character's heart and throws things at that character that really challenge them on a personal or relational level, and that's exactly what we get in this book. There were so many times in this story where I really felt for Raiba and the other characters, when my heart ached for them and when I rejoiced with them. Wangler does a really good job with the emotion in this book, and it's because of that that I felt like I was really able to connect with these characters.
This is a great read for anyone who enjoys Christian fiction, but it's also good for anyone who just likes a good fantasy story with interesting characters and string worldbuilding.