Review: Gatekeeper’s Key

Gatekeeper’s Key, by Krista Wallace.

Gatekeeper's Key cover image

4 stars – I liked this book; it was good

This is a book I found through indie authors on Facebook. I took a look at the post, the cover. It seemed like something I’d be interested in, especially after a quick look inside, so as soon as it was published, I bought a copy. It arrived on December 24, 2021, and I immediately began reading.

Finished reading on January 13, 2022.

A Real D&D Adventure

The story starts off with the heroine, Kyer (key-air) Halidan, in the tavern in a small town she was sent to by her mentor. After killing a less-than-chivalrous man in a duel, she meets one of her long-time heroes, a dark elf named Valrayker, who invites her to join his band of warriors—a wood elf named Phennil, a human named Derry, a human shaman named Jesqellan, and a dwarf named Janak—on a quest to reclaim his lands from the evil lord Dregor. From there, her grand adventure begins. Friends and enemies are made, and danger nips at their heels. Along the way, Kyer begins uncovering the mystery behind her past and an amulet she’s carried since she emerged from a cornfield at the age of three.

It took me about three weeks to read this book (reading on and off), which is pretty good considering its length—approximately 175,000 words. I definitely like how long it is, though the text was a bit small and straining on my eyes.

The action sequences are compelling, and there are many of them woven into the story, which gives the feel of Dungeons and Dragons, especially with the allies and enemies they meet throughout the story. They’re also different enough not to be repetitive; vivid and realistic enough to know that the author did her research before writing them. There is also the ongoing mystery of Kyer’s past, where she comes from, how she knows certain things, and the shadowy dealings revealed about her mentor—who taught her a lost art of the sword and is somehow connected to Valrayker.

Kyer is every bit the strong female character that’s popular these days. She’s independent, a bit arrogant, and sexually confident while still being adequately conservative. She has unique interactions with each of the characters around her, humble flirting to admiration to outright aggression. The characters each breathed life into the story in their own way, and their interrelationships, not only with Kyer, spoke volumes to the depths of their personalities and morals.

I admit that there were times when the pacing was a bit slow for my taste, and I think this mainly falls on the length of the chapters (bordering on 10,000 words at times). I tend to enjoy shorter chapters because it’s easier to decern the point of them, and it helps with my shorter attention span. I’m also not the type to stop right in the middle of a chapter, so I’m glad each chapter was interspersed with breaks.

Something to note was that Kyer kept getting attacked. This is a main point of the plot—of many a fantasy adventure—and there were times when I was angry at Kyer for her obliviousness or lack of awareness. It made for progressing the plot in intriguing ways, so I congratulate the author for invoking that emotion.

Last note—the one thing that I hated about this book isn’t even to do with the content, but rather the design. I’m a book designer by career and at heart, and I can tell that this wasn’t done by a professional. As I mentioned, the text was quite small to a point of strain on the eyes, the bottom margin was inconsistent, amid other issues. I won’t hold this against the author because the errors weren’t so egregious that I had to stop reading, but I feel the need to mention it.

Content warning for the book—it contains swearing and mentions of sex.

Gatekeeper’s Key is a thrilling read, and I was satisfied with the ending. I’m excitedly awaiting the release of the sequel. I would recommend it to high fantasy lovers and those who enjoy playing D&D.

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