ARC Review, Book Review, Fantasy, Middle Grade

The Gatekeeper of Pericael by Hayley Reese Chow

Twelve-year-old Porter would much rather spend his weekends playing soccer than channeling spirits in the parallel universe of Pericael. Unfortunately for him, Porter’s family has guarded the gate between Earth and monster-filled Pericael for generations, so he’s not getting out of Gatekeeper lessons anytime soon.

But some after-school activities are more dangerous than others.

When a soul thief threatens the gate, Porter reluctantly comes to its defense… and gets thrown deep into Pericael’s dangerous jungle wilderness. With the help of two fierce native girls, Porter must learn to embrace the creepy spirits and find his way back to the gate. But the soul thief is racing for the gate too, and if he gets there first, Porter won’t have a home to go back to.

This book was exciting to read. It kept me on the edge of my seat. The pacing was spot on with a mix of fast and medium, but not too slow to pull you out of the story. This is the second out of three middle grade stories I have read, and I am thinking I may have to add more in the future. Where were these when I was in school?

Porter is the main character and well-round. Instead of having a character that does not know who he is and is discovering himself through his journey, this character was a little different. Porter knows who he is and the significance of his power, but he does not. Instead, he envies his sister and cousin because they do not have the same burden. Porter has his mother who understands, but he is a kid. Throughout this journey, he is discovering his significant power and what others in this world expect of him. His power scares him, but again, this is a lot to ask from someone his age.

Aimes, Porter’s cousin, what can I say about him? I enjoyed this little guy. He made me laugh with his Star Wars references (and everyone here should know I am a big SW fan), comparing Porter to Luke Skywalker and his magic as the Force. Aimes is the comic relief in this book and the one who helps ground Porter. I think he is as well-rounded as one could get. For someone running for his life and getting injured, Aimes is optimistic. He tries to see the good side of the bad because good magic was on their side.

Now there are the sisters Fira and Conri. Both are important to Porter’s journey. Each of them has different expectations for Porter. They knew the importance of their journey, but they still second guessed themselves even though they went head first into everything. I like how they were not perfect and how the flaws showed throughout the book. They are both strong characters in their own right. I enjoyed them as much as I did with Aimes.

There was some great world building for this story. I wished there would have been more, but understanding the age group and length, I think there was enough. Everyone seems to know the importance of Porter, which makes him uncomfortable. The world seems to be cruel no matter what time of the day, worse at night with creepy beasts and trees running through the forest. The magic is the spirits of the nature and I like the intake on this. They can decide if they want to help and for how long until they were told differently by a more powerful spirit.

I enjoyed this book. It was well written, the world was understandable, and the characters play their parts. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a fantasy adventure, dark fantasy, and magic.

*I received an ARC from the author, and this is my honest opinion.

I give this book a 4/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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