About The Gatekeeper’s Forbidden Secret (from Amazon):
Colin and his sister Addy stumble upon the adventure of a lifetime. Due to some very questionable behavior, and the need to preserve their fathers business interests, they find themselves forced to work at the castle of the Gatekeeper. They befriend the Gatekeeper’s nephew and trust him with an unbelievable story. The nephew is determined to help his new friends, despite his own kept secrets. They all venture into the unknown, trying to figure out what the truth really is. Along the way they encounter colorful creatures, monsters, and traitors. They question their own reality, their strength, and their weaknesses. They discover that things are not always what they seem.
About Penelope A. Brown (from Amazon):
Penelope Brown grew up in England in a magical little village that has been her inspiration for the Gatekeeper series. Many of the ideas came from dreams that she journaled growing up. She later researched her notes to find out they were uncannily accurate. She has decided to share her stories with the world. She now lives in Florida. Her future plans are to expand her Gatekeeper series, her focus being based on truths and scientific research. She believes that anything is possible and she is willing to explain how.
I give The Gatekeeper’s Forbidden Secret by Penelope A. Brown 4 out of 5 stars.
I think this may be the first time I’ve ever said this, but the blurb for this book does not do it justice. Occasionally, I find blurbs that sensationalize and exaggerate what the book is about (leading to one disappointed reviewer), but in this case, the blurb really does not say enough.
Set in southern England, The Gatekeeper’s Forbidden Secret kicks off when Colin and Addy’s dog, Buddy, mysteriously disappears. It seems normal enough, but Addy makes some outlandish claims regarding his departure, an elderly neighbor is exhibiting creepy behavior, and their father’s employer is harboring some dark secrets. Add to that a fairy, a hummingbird, and a troll in the body of a dog, and you have memorable characters to go with the setting and imaginative plot.
Addy was my favorite character, reminding me of my younger self with her wild imagination and dolls and stories. When I was little I had a fake phone on which I talked to all of my imaginary friends. Anyway, as I got older my grandma told me that the way I talked she would have sworn someone was on the other end. Maybe there was, Grandma. Maybe there was. Roger was also a great character, with his flighty nature (no pun intended) and concern for his family. Then there was the mom, a storyteller, optimistic, human, and loving all at once – exactly what I want to be like as a mom.
In the story, Brown takes on the task of explaining some complex physical and scientific concepts, like wormholes and black holes and parallel universes. Maybe it’s because I’m fascinated by these things and have spent time studying them, but I enjoyed the way science was woven with fantasy in this story. It was engaging, and not at all boring.
Brown also does an excellent job of foreshadowing and red herring placement. My closest friends will tell you I always know who the bad guys and good guys are in a story before anyone else, but The Gatekeeper’s Forbidden Secret kept me guessing. I had my suspicion, but I really didn’t know who to trust until the end.
My one complaint is that the action slowed slightly once Colin and company entered the other world, and didn’t pick up again until the climactic finale. The parallel world was interesting enough, I just wanted more.
The story is unique, and I wish I knew what to compare it to, but I don’t. It’s a fun read, and I highly recommend it for young fans of fantasy stories like the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series, but it will appeal to older readers as well.