Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Raven's Gate by Anthony Horowitz

Author: Anthony Horowitz
ISBN # 0844286193
283 pages

Before the beginning there was the gate and five gatekeepers: Children. Four boys ~ One girl. It has been written. The night of everlasting darkness is drawing in. The gate is about to open. The gatekeepers must return.

Thus begins an adventure that melds magic with science, the past with the present & good with evil.

Matt Freeman is a troubled 14-year-old orphan who lives with his aunt & her partner. After making a terrible mistake, he is made part of the LEAF programme rather than sent to a young offenders' institution & is sent to stay in the foster care of Mrs Deverill in Yorkshire. But all is not as it seems in Hive Hall, nor in the village of Lesser Malling. What is the secret they are hiding? What mysteries are hidden deep in the woods? And what is Raven’s Gate? Matt must embark on a voyage of self-discovery if he is to unravel the twisted plot & stay alive!

Raven’s Gate is based on an idea first published in 1983 as The Devil’s Doorbell & is the first in, I gather, a 5-book series (the cover hints at this with “The Power of 5” emblazoned across it), though the 2nd instalment isn’t due to be published till next Spring. It manages to take all the magic of epic fantasies & set it smack-bang in the here & now, starting in Ipswich, a trip to London & then settling in Yorkshire. As a result, it never seems over the top, in fact, the reader is left feeling that there’s nothing out-of-the-ordinary in the possibly supernatural occurrences.

It’s really a rite of passage for the main character, Matt, as he struggles to come to terms with the cards life has dealt him – the loss of his parents 6 years earlier, feeling unwanted while living with his aunt, being befriended by an unsavoury character & still trying to assert his own individuality - all the while feeling the usual unsettledness that the teenage years bring. But there’s something different. Matt is different. While he tries to understand what’s happening to him & why, he has to try & exercise some control over his own blossoming abilities.

All in all, this seems quite a strong start to what may well be an intriguing series. It ends a little abruptly, but I can only assume that the 2nd book will pick up just as speedily & continue the narrative, whether it’s following Matt or perhaps one of the other “Gatekeepers”. A good choice for those who are a little more cynical & prefer not to be expected to transport themselves to an entirely different world.

Rating: 7/10


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