Friday, October 2, 2020

Book Review and Writing Lessons: Gatekeepers by Robert Liparulo


The house talks. It breathes. And it's hungry.

The Kings have been in the creepy old place, their new home, for only a few days, but they've experienced enough terror to last a lifetime. And the mystery is growing even more baffling. Shadowy and shifting, the big house conceals doors into other worlds that blur the line between memories and dreams and the slightest misstep can change history forever.

At least, that's if they believe the trembling old man who shows up claiming to know them. "There's a reason you're in the house," he tells them. "As gatekeepers, we must make sure only those events that are supposed to happen get through to the future."

The problem is that horrors beyond description wait on the other side of those gates. As if that weren't enough, the Kings are also menaced by sinister forces on this side like the dark, ancient stranger Taksidian, who wants them out now.

Xander, David, and Toria must venture beyond the gates to save their missing mother and discover how truly high the stakes have become.

Series: Dreamhouse Kings (Books 3)
Genre: MG Fantasy
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishing (February 21, 2012)
Page Count: 320 pages

My friend and I decided to read this book together and it's certainly one of my favorites of the series so far!

The Plot: The plot picks up exactly where the last one left off and brings even more questions into the mix about this mysterious house and the Kings’ role in it. The end was definitely the most intense part. So much happened in so little time with some great twists so I definitely have to read the next one to see what happens! 

The Characters: David is still my favorite. I still relate to him the most. I really like his sibling relationship with Toria and Xander. It’s really sweet to see close brothers and sisters. The part where they all sleep in the same room took me back to being scared as a kid and sleeping with my sister. Also Toria is the cutest little girl. The three watching their dad hauled away by police really got to me. That would terrify me as a kid. 

Taksidian is definitely a scary  and intimidating villain. He’s very intimidating and ruthless but it’s also logically motivated so he doesn’t feel cartoonish. I also liked Jesse and Keal. They're an interesting pair.

The Setting: Most of the book takes place in the mysterious house though there are brief scenes in the Civil War era, ancient Assyria, and a strange calm world. The plot definitely thickens with the house because it turns out it has a mind of its own and it wants to take people back into the stream of time it believes belong there. So in a way the setting is an enemy. 

Epic Things: I appreciate the reference to the Last of the Mohicans.

The Theme: The value of human life is a big theme.

"You have a keen sense of the preciousness of life and the finality of death--here on earth, anyway. To you, death does not simply end life. It steals away the sunset you'll never see, the children you'll never hold, the wife you'll never love. It's frightening to almost lose your future, and it's heart breaking to witness death snuff out other people's tomorrows." 
~Jesse King
Content Cautions: There is some violence but nothing graphic since this is Middle Grade. Blood spurts from someon's nose, people are hit with flying objects, people are bludgeoned, and then a guy has the crap beaten out of him.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

Ways to Make Sure the Mentor Figure Isn’t Always There to Help (Without Killing Them)
 - Jesse is definitely the mentor of the group. He knows the most about the House and the lore behind it, but he can't always be there to help the kids fight off Takisidian and his goons for two reasons. One he's in a wheelchair, so he can't help very well physically and because he's from an alternate reality, Time wants him back so he can't stay in the house for very long.

How this can be applied to writing: Mentors can't always be there to help the hero, otherwise they'd just do the deed, so one must find ways to get them out of the way so the hero can well be the hero. Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings is a good example. He gets kidnapped, he has to verify the identity of the ring, he has to negotiate with kings to get their aid for battles, and so on.

Conclusion: I'm definitely going to keep going with this series. I've gotta find out what happens after that cliffhanger. XD

About the Author: I've been writing since before I could drive. Short stories,
investigative exposes celebrity profiles, editorials, business columns, radio dramas, screenplays--you name it. For the last few years, I've focused on novels. I'm the author of the thrillers "Comes a Horseman," "Germ," "Deadfall," "Deadlock," "The 13th Tribe," and the young adult series Dreamhouse Kings--"House of Dark Shadows," "Watcher in the Woods," "Gatekeepers," "Timescape," "Whirlwind," and "Frenzy."

Several of my books have been sold or optioned by Hollywood producers. All of them are in various stages of production. I'm also working on an original screenplay with Andrew Davis (director of "The Fugitive" and "The Guardian). I wrote the screenplay for Ted Dekker's "Blessed Child." My short story "Kill Zone" appears in the James Patterson-edited anthology "Thriller," and my essay on Thomas Perry's "The Butcher's Boy" can be found in the anthology "Thriller: 100 Must Reads."

Check out his websiteFacebookGoodreads, and Twitter!

Book Review and Writing Lessons: Watcher in the Woods by Robert Liparulo

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