Updated: Jun 29, 2021
When I was growing up, I often imagined what I might find behind a closed closet door. Even though I knew it would just be clothes or toys, I liked to pretend those doorways led to secret worlds filled with adventure. After all, stories like The Chronicles of Narnia started that way, so why couldn’t I make my own?
The Gatekeeper of Pericael takes the idea of a parallel world and adds a new and frightening twist. Twelve-year-old Porter Redmond is the next in line to be the Gatekeeper between Earth and Pericael. Handed down from one generation to the next, this important role becomes even more critical near each of the Hallows when the barrier between Earth and Pericael becomes weakest. The power-hungry Raspurn has Earth in his sights because of all of the souls he could capture and use to amplify his ranja. When danger knocks on Porter’s door, he must break the rules and venture into Pericael without his mother. There, his own skills as Kotalla kan are tested to their very limits. Please see my full review here.
Blending magic with the paranormal, this middle grade story is intense in its delivery. Nobody goes out at night in Pericael, and the reason soon becomes obvious. Terrifying creatures lurk in the jungle at night, a blend of many of the monsters that appear in our nightmares...amplified to a significant degree. Throughout the story, Porter is forced to embrace the power that resides within him as he joins forces with two powerful girls and his cousin Ames. Though blood-related, Ames does not learn about Pericael until this story begins, and his lighthearted, comedic demeanor brightens an otherwise dark tale. I especially appreciated his many references to colloquial language, Star Wars, and MMOs!
This story is well-written and compelling, blending heritage and innate desire as seen through the lens of a spirit-centered parallel world. Even if readers have never bonded with a spirit, they will no doubt recognize the challenges Porter faces in trying to be his own person in the shadow of his family’s traditional role as Gatekeeper. I especially love how the many words and phrases in the Pericaelian language become an easily comprehensible element of the narrative. Readers are immersed in this fantastic world throughout the story and feel as though it could be found behind their own closet doors.
I highly recommend this gripping tale to confident middle grade readers with a love of fantasy and heart-pounding adventure.
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