I was contacted by Haley with the question to review her new middle grade book. Thank you so much for the eARC! This had no influence on my opinions.
Title: The Gatekeeper of Pericael
Author: Haley Reese Chow
Published: April 6th 2021
Length: 186 pages
Age Range: Middle-grade
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.
I don’t read nearly enough middle-grade even though they can truly light up my day. I’ve found some incredible books in that age range through blog tours and review opportunities so I’m always glad when I get approached. Also, doesn’t the synopsis sound really intriguing? Love me a good portal fantasy type book!
If you like a reluctant hero, you will love Porter. He’s 12 years old and would much rather just play football than being the next ‘Kotalla Kan’, the next Gatekeeper and having to learn all these spells and worst of all … having to communicate with the Spirits in Pericael. They scare him a bit so be completely honest.
But then someone is knocking on the door and his cousin, who has no idea about Pericael even existing, is with him and hearing it, too. And Ames is way less reluctant to be dragged through the door to help, even though he has no clue what anyone is saying.
Pericael is in grave danger though and Porter really doesn’t feel up to the job of saving it and battling against powerful magic. If he wants to come out alive … he has to remember all his training and actually communicate with the spirits.
I actually really loved the inclusion of Ames, who is so excited by everything and doesn’t really get the danger they are in. But that also enables him to see the situation from another standpoint and that helps quite a lot (when he pushes Porter to listen, for example, loved that scene!)
I can see younger readers being completely engrossed in this fast-paced adventure! It’s a really quick read that keeps you turning the pages. Porter being so reluctant to get involved in Pericael is lovely to read about, how he feels so split between his two worlds and like he, ultimately, doesn’t belong fully in either of them. But he also steps up when he needs to. I really appreciated his growth throughout the book.
But my favourite has to be Ames, he’s a nerd and has so much excitement in him! He’s so happy and always sees the bright side of everything, which makes him the perfect companion like I already mentioned. He has a really positive influence on Porter’s perception of Pericael, infecting him a bit with his wonder at this different world.
Speaking of which, the world was well developed and I really liked exploring the magic and getting to see all the marvels of Pericael. A world filled with spirits, deadly creatures and so much more.
There never is a dull moment, Haley keeps the reader on their toes and takes them on a journey filled with action but also some slower scenes where we get to bond with the characters more. I really liked the themes of friendship and growth!
Even better? It just got released so you can go and buy it right now!