by E. Denise Billups
The Newhouse Family own and manage “Twilight Ends”, an imposing bed and breakfast hotel set within a Victorian mansion in New York. However, Twilight Ends echoes with the ghosts of the Iroquois people who once lived on the land and whose village was torched. The Newhouses, as ancestors of the Iroquois, respect the ancient spirits but is there more to it than simply nurturing their heritage and who exactly is Harrison Dox?
Keepers of the Gate is a beautifully written novel. The prose is so carefully considered; each word weighted with emotion and thought. There is some strikingly lovely imagery which, on occasion, almost tips the book into literary fiction. The writing has such measured depth, it was completely engrossing to read and the use of present tense gave an extra sense of immediacy.
The story is full of rich and vivid detail; it’s very immersive and there has been a solid level of research into the Iroquois Confederacy. It’s wonderfully realised and very interesting. The contrasts between the authentic historical context and the paranormal events happening in modern-day are skilfully linked. The plot, although simple in framework, does become quite complex in places and, on occasion a touch dense but the beauty of the prose lends believability to those areas of the narrative that stretch a little to meet one other.
Throughout, there is an unsettling sense of foreboding which always remains. Keepers of the Gate is a very atmospheric book and capably draws the reader into its dreamscape, almost nebulous world. The use of journal entries and differing perspectives are well balanced, adding layers of intrigue, connection and dimension. Ms Billups is clearly laying the foundations and signposts for the books further in the series but not in such a way that the reader feels cheated in this instalment.
There are a couple of minor weaknesses with the contemporary characters; Skylar seemed flat in places and, personally, Twyla did not really come into her own until quite some way through. However, Cristal and Dante were written with an underlying sensuousness and there was an immediate reassurance emanating from Jayson, he brought a sense of realism to the events that begin to occur once he stays at Twilight Ends. Old/Young George, I loved and could have seen more of. Nonetheless, by the end of Keepers of the Gate, all the cast had evolved within the story and become nicely individual.
Keepers of the Gate is an absorbing, intelligent read with spellbindingly lovely prose and a well-structured plot. Highly recommended.