ARC, BOOK REVIEW, Book Reviews, Fantasy, Young Adult

Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland |ARC Review

42642042. sy475 Title: Beyond the Black Door

Author: A.M. Strickland

Series: N/A

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy, LGBT+, Romance

Publisher: Imprint

Publication date: October 29th, 2019

Pages: 400

My rating: img_1496


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Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen …

Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.

But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.

When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.

A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom …

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“Perhaps that was for the best. Some secrets weren’t meant to be discovered. Some doors not meant to be opened.”

I was so anticipating this book because the premise sounded absolutely fantastic and like something that was right up my alley, and I’m always on the hunt for morally grey villains and strong heroines, so I had such high hopes when it came to Beyond the Black Door, and overall, though I it had some really great elements that I enjoyed a lot, I also had some issues with it, and that influenced my enjoyment of the novel.

I would say the plot of the book started out being amazing. It was a very easy book to get into and I was so intrigued by everything that was happening and how mysterious and eerie it all felt. We were being kept in the dark with a lot of things and that made me want to keep reading to know how everything would end and to get answers to a few questions that kept popping my mind. I always love me a book about secret societies and a personal vendetta, so I had no issues with those elements.

However, as I kept reading the novel, I noticed a few things that at first weren’t that important but ended up affecting my love for the first half of the story. It came a point where I feel the plot got stuck and not much was happening apart from mild conversations and endless inner dialogues of the protagonist, and also there were some things that started to become a bit repetitive, and I lost my interest for a while until the last part of the book.

When it comes to the characters, I was so happy to see that it had a pretty diverse cast of characters and some were in the LGBT+ community. Now I cannot tell if that representation was good or not, but I think it was about damn time to have an protagonist that was asexual and demiromantic in a fantasy book. Another thing I actually was pleasantly surprised to see was how sex working had quite an important focus on the story, and how it wasn’t degraded or treated badly (though there were certain characters that totally were assholes, but I think the overall tone and message wasn’t that one).

“These were too many secrets. Too many mysteries: the deaths, my missing soul, the black door. And now that my mother was dead, I might never discover the truth about any of them.”

My main issue was that I found sometimes our protagonist extremely annoying. She got on my nerves a few times, and she was so exasperating that I just wanted to hit a wall at certain points of the book. I could understand certain decisions she made, as well as how naïve she was in some moments, but she made such bad decisions that were so obvious to the reader and then regretted them that at times it was a bit hard to empathize with her. However, I enjoyed her development throughout the novel and the dynamics she had with the side characters, as well as the friendship she had with Nikha, which was so precious and beautiful.

The romance was okay for me. There were certain things that I loved about the relationship between Vehym and Kamai, because they had such interesting dynamics that it was very fun to watch them interact and seeing them together, but at the same time I feel Vehym was such an underdeveloped villain that I was a bit disappointed by the lack of background his character had. I just wish he would have been more complex and that instead of the author focusing on certain aspects of his relationship with Kamai, we got more about him solo.

And just like it happened with Vehym, I feel the world and the secret society thing to be quite lackluster. I guess this was just a me thing, but there is a certain feeling I want to have when I read a book that has a secret society trope in it, and sadly I didn’t feel that with Beyond the Black Door. I think those concepts were really cool and could have added a lot to the story, but they wasn’t enough information about them for me to form a fair picture in my mind and feel that spark.

Overall, I think Beyond the Black Door had definitely some strong elements that I really enjoyed, and it was a solid book with a diverse cast that I really enjoyed. Of course, there were certain things that I would have loved to see, along with some minor issues I had with the pacing and the ending, but as a whole, I’m happy I’ve read this book.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t change my opinion whatsoever. All thoughts are my own.

“None of those lessons mattered anymore, because I’d ignored the most important one of all: The first thing my mother had tried to teach me about the black door. Not to open.”

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