I’m always a sucker for a story that takes place in or is tied to a bookstore which is exactly where Battledoor: The Golden Slate starts out.
The Blurb for the book is as follows:
Life constantly seems to be wavering between really good and really bad for Owen, a lonely sixteen-year-old still reeling from the unexpected death of his mother and a fresh move to Toronto. After ducking into an old bookstore to escape high school bullies, Owen discovers that he can travel to a parallel, twisted version of the city with a magical tablet called a Battledoor, where he encounters new allies, bizarre creatures, and the ultimate antagonist who will stop at nothing to procure the magical Golden Slate for himself.
Forced to work together with friends and enemies in order to return home, Owen is faced with a series of choices that will prompt him to find courage he never knew he had, explore the possibility of romance, and try to find a way to let go of his painful past and move on. But is Owen ready to finally take control, and become the protagonist of his own story?
The Protagonist and The Bully
The tale revolves around Owen, a high school student living in Toronto who is being bullied by an abrasive sociopath named James Vanier and his mute pal Lucas (though referred to as mute, I don’t think he really was as he did speak a time or two during the story). Up until this point, the bullying consisted of verbal abuse and some beatings. This morning, however, things seemed to take a darker turn as James pursued Owen with the clear intention of stabbing him. From James’s thoughts, it becomes clear to the reader that there is indeed a dark side to this young man – the word “broken” comes to mind.
Introducing: The Battledoor
Pursued by James and Lucas, Owen along with two high school friends Emily and Bea dash into an old bookstore hoping to lose them. While in the bookstore, Owen is attracted to an item called a Battledoor, which is a tablet-like device which the bookstore owner describes as a book where the reader chooses his or her own adventure by making a series of decisions. The owner of the bookstore gives the tablet to Owen and to Emily and Bea, he gives corresponding hornbooks.
James and Lucas discover their hiding place and burst into the bookstore. James attacks the store owner and amiss the confusion, Owen activates the device. Once he does so, a temporary door appears in the bookstore through which Owen, Emily, Bea, James and Lucas all go. They find themselves outdoors in an alley, and it only takes them a moment to realize that they are no longer in Toronto but in some sort of alternate universe . . .and thus the adventure begins.
Through every world, there are a series of doors that lead to an unknown destination but one thing we can be certain of: there will always be a battle of some kind to be fought (hence the name “Battledoor”). Owen is typically given two choices such as “Fairies” or “Furies”. As we quickly learn, the most innocuous sounding choice is not always the best one.
The story had kind of a Jumanji feeling to it, where the characters are playing a game with real-life consequences — or perhaps “Ready Player One” in which the characters enter into a video game. Regardless, Battledoor: The Golden Slate is a fast-paced rollercoaster ride of an adventure story, and I loved the idea of not knowing what lies around the next corner. There are plently of surprises along the way. We also met some very zany characters and unique creatures along the way, including. . .
In the Battledoor world, Owen is known as “The Protagonist”, which makes sense, giving that he is the hero of the store in which he and his friends are trapped. But as there is a protagonist in every story, there also needs to be an antagonist. Though we may have initially suspected that James would end up being the villain in this story, he is not (although I’m guessing he still could go either way). There is, however, a perfectly terrifying and sinister villain who goes by the name of Vellum whose main goal is to — you guessed it — kill the protagonist.
My Only Niggle
Perhaps the only drawback to Battledoor: The Golden Slate is that it’s not a complete story. That is to say, the book ends with an unsatisfying cliffhanger, which is something I personally dislike. But there are a lot of books out there with series cliffhangers that generate 5-star reviews so apparently many people aren’t bothered by them. So as you enter into this story, know that you’ll need to purchase the next book in the series in order to find out what happens next.
But I will say that those who do buy this book will most likely rush out to get the next one to find out the outcome of this exciting adventure.
This was a fast-paced fun book with a rollicking adventure that draws the reader right in. I found the characters to be well-developed and enjoyed learning more about them as the story progressed. The journey of our five heroes (and company) never gets dull, because we get taken from scene to scene pretty quickly.
I also enjoyed the world building and thought the author did an excellent job of portraying the many alternate universes our heroes encounter. Overall I found this to be an amazing read that was incredibly fun and entertaining, with a gripping story and vivid setting. The book is set to be released on April 3rd, 2018 so this may be one you’ll want to add to your TBR list. Recommended!
Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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