book review, fantasy

The Gatekeeper’s Apprentice by Catherine McCarthy

A young girl discovers her family’s secret in this charming middle grade fantasy.

12 year old Maddie lives with her mother and her younger brother, Tom, who has Cystic Fibrosis. Maddie is mature beyond her years; she has to be, after the sudden disappearance of her father four years earlier. Could the mysterious box hidden in the attic, and the old man who managed to renovate in seven hours the run down house across the road, hold the key to making Maddie’s family whole again?

Maddie is an extremely likable main character. Her relationship with Tom is realistic, and the quiet rituals of her home life create a comfortable atmosphere for the action that follows.

A lot of work has obviously gone into developing the world of the Gatekeepers; guards to portals between dimensions. An enticing box with an original set of keys, an odd shaped library hidden in a white cottage in the woods, and the alternate dimensions themselves, are all elements that engage the imagination and could easily become iconic in children’s literature.

Unfortunately, the execution didn’t quite live up to its promise. Maddie is not the heroine I hoped she would be; her choices in the narrative are dictated to her by others, and the major crux of the mystery revealed to her through lengthy exposition. While the character is undoubtedly brave and accomplished, she doesn’t get to discover or decide any actions that are critical to the plot.

Despite this, I enjoyed the story, and I award The Gatekeeper’s Apprentice

The Gatekeeper’s Apprentice is available for $7.99 print book on Amazon.

Read my review of Catherine McCarthy’s collection of dark short stories for adults here.

Read my interview with Catherine McCarthy here.

Read Catherine’s answers to my questions in her Mythology and Me post here.

11 thoughts on “The Gatekeeper’s Apprentice by Catherine McCarthy”

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