Publisher: Joy Peterson Novels
The Gatekeeper begins with the three Jefferson-Johnson siblings (15-yr-old Patience and her 12-year-old twin siblings, Marcus and Theo) trying to escape the family plantation from their abusive uncle, Trevor. While hiding, the children chase after a colorful band of insects and end up in a magical world filled with sparkly plants and strange berries. After succumbing to their hunger and eating some berries, they fall asleep.
When they wake up, they find themselves transformed into humanoid bees. They are taken in by the Queen Star, Inyasi, who is the leader of the humanoid bees. Inyasi tells them that their grandmother, Mable, created the magical Mbaba land and try to teach the children how to care for the plants of Mbaba. WHile the children set out to learn about the plants and animals, they draw suspicion among the Umuvi (wasp-type humanoids) and an Inyasi named Adui who believe they’re trouble. Adui and the Umuvi set out to have them expelled from Mbaba and then killed. The children, especially Patience, must prove they are true gatekeepers (protectors of Mbaba’s magic, plants and animals) by nurturing the plants of Mbaba, so the magic of the land doesn’t disappear.
The Gatekeeper is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a spiritual, often religious, novel, which can be overwhelming. However at the heart of it, is a story about belonging and finding hope and faith in the hardest of times. Regardless of themes, it’s self-published origins show it’s flaws including spelling and grammar mistakes in the text, as well as it’s slow pacing but the shortness of the read keeps it from being boring.
While the story is straightforward in plot, it’s lack of a defined antagonist, leads to an anticlimactic yet twist ending, whereby the children confront Adui and the Umuvi and Adui’s true identity and motive is revealed. The Gatekeeper tells the story of a young woman, literally and figuratively, finding her voice. Patience has to learn to stand up for herself and to have faith in her ability as the new gatekeeper.
Mellisha MckKenzie is an author. She has published three ebooks—two contemporary, coming-of-age novels and one SF&F short story collection (The Exploration and Other Tales of Wonder). You can contact her at @mellmckenzie or mellmckenzie.com.