Title: The Keeper of Portals
Author: V.S. Nelson
Genre: MG Fantasy/Time travel
Available: 28th Jan
Everything in the universe is maintained by its own keeper, from the most insignificant insect to time itself. When 15 year-old Martin moves into a stately home that’s dangerously overhanging a cliff, he meets the Keeper of Portals and learns of the mysterious door at the end of his bedroom.
One morning, Martin wakes to discover the Keeper of Portals is missing and the door at the end of his bedroom is open. Martin steps through the door to find himself in the 17th century where he meets Isabel, the house’s maid. Upon discovering two imprisoned keepers, Martin and Isabel gain the ability to control time and travel through portals.
After being attacked by hordes of brainwashed villagers, Martin and Isabel learn that the master of the house has a devious plan, one the keepers are powerless to stop. Martin and Isabel must jump between the present day and the 17th century in order to hide from the twisted master, avoiding past versions of themselves, as powerful keepers thwart them at every turn. But as items from the future begin to bleed into the past and the present day is plagued by malfunctioning portals, Martin and Isabel’s only option is to confront the master – the Keeper of Questions.
The Keeper of Portals is an adventure story that explores the supernatural and is an ideal read for 10—14 year-olds. Inspired by authors such as Philip Pullman and Neil Gaiman, this book will be enjoyed by fans of time-slip fantasies, both children and adults alike.
Source: ARC from the author
If you like stories that are action driven, throwing you right into the plot from the very first moment and doesn’t waste much time getting to know characters or even what’s going on sometimes, then this book is for you. There’s lots of jumping through doors to other places, plenty of playing with time and rarely a page when something interesting isn’t either happening or about to.
Personally, that’s not my favourite kind of story. I like to get to know the characters involved so that I can care what happens to them. I also like to understand what’s going on at any given moment, feeling the emotion by being shown what’s going on rather than just being told. This book is very much told to the reader. Martin’s initial meeting with the Keeper of Portals is intriguing and potentially exciting, but it lacked emotion for me and so I didn’t care when just a few pages later the keeper vanished. And I wasn’t at all sure why Martin cared either.
Which is a shame. The action is exciting, but because I didn’t feel connected to either Martin or Isabel, I didn’t particularly care about what happened to any of them. Also there is so much action constantly going on that it might have been nice to have had a breather here and there to get to know the characters a bit and let the action sink in a bit. That might have helped with the romance too, which sadly felt unnecessary and unlikely.
The overall plot, though, is interesting. I loved the ideas of the keepers and the action smoothed out towards the end to set things up for a gripping finale. For most of the book it was almost impossible to predict where things were going to go next, which was a refreshing change for me. Although towards the end I was definitely sensing a certain influence from one of my favourite all-time trilogies, which meant the ending wasn’t a surprise at all.
On the whole this is interesting, but your enjoyment will vary depending on how you like your plots to be driven – by action or by characters. If it’s action you’re after, then this will deliver it in spades.
The Keeper of Portals is out January 28th.
Visit V.S. Nelson for more details.