Title: Hidden Gates
Author: D.T. Dyllin
Publisher: Tik Tok Press
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, YA
Source: NetGalley – Review Copy
Warning: This review will contain some mild spoilers.
Hidden Gates is not what you would expect. It has people with gifts, it has aliens and, what’s more, it has dragons. Its writing style is YA, however it is a book which contains so many references and descriptions of sex that it would be better classified as New Adult. It is a book where a global invasion becomes a reality but it also a book where teen romance and a love quadrangle (yes, a love quadrangle – a love triangle is too small a phrase for this book) take centre stage.
If this sounds like the perfect story, full of surprises and sudden turns, then Hidden Gates is the book for you.
P.J. is a Seer, someone who receives premonitions of the future and is highly valued in her secret community, but which is also a recessive genetic trait. As a result, her choice of suitors is limited, more so by the fact that boys aren’t interested in her, suitable not. Suddenly, however, her life is spun out of control as her powers start to manifest and she starts falling for her best friend. Not to mention, a mysterious being called Khol turns up in her life, claiming to be bonded to her.
The main, over-arching plot, is one that I have seen before – an alien invasion years in the making. As is the teen romance story – girl falls in love with her best friend. Somehow, dragons also slip into the mix and the story becomes a whirlwind of different threads, each vying for precedence. A number of times, I felt that the author had tried to do too much with the novel. So many things are thrown at the reader that it was difficult to keep track of the book I was reading.
Unfortunately, while characters are often my favourite things about a book, the ones in Hidden Gates do little to earn my favour. P.J., as the lead, is probably one of the most annoying people I have ever read and, as this is written from her point of view, you do not get a break from her. Her insecurities do provide some respite for her annoying character, but I found her near impossible to relate to. Bryn was even worse.
Of all the characters, Khol and Jeremy were the ones that I enjoyed the most although, by the end, I started disliking them as well, Jeremy especially. I’m not entirely sure what the author was trying to say, but each male character regressed from someone who could be realistic and an enjoyable character to basically animals with only one thing on their brain (no surprise what that is). Khol, at least, maintained some kind of interest – he had his moments of ridiculousness, but he was easily the most fascinating and developed character. If only the book had included more about him and his background.
That aside, the world that Dyllin creates is intriguing. It could not be anything less with gates between worlds, aliens and dragons all bundled into one and hidden from the regular human world. Unfortunately, the most we see of it is the modern world and a short sojourn into another world that is, not only barely described, but so much like the human world that you forget it’s supposed to be somewhere else.
I did really enjoy the concept of Seers, Guardians, Gatekeepers and Speakers as protectors of this world and the gates; especially as a hidden community living among regular humans. While we see a lot of the Speaker and Seer powers, I am still not entirely sure what Guardians or Gatekeepers are actually capable of and I hope that this is something which will be explored in later books.
Hidden Gates is a book which tries too hard to do too many things. It is a set up for the next books so lacks in much of a story of its own, instead focusing on the over-the-top relationships rather than the building of a magical and fascinating world. If the romance was turned down, or even off, and the book focused more on P.J.’s self-discovery and the over-arching plot, this could have been a fantastic book. Sadly, however, I could not enjoy it as much as I would have liked.
My favourite part: the phrase “Aram Cara” to mean soulmate – this use of language adds a bit of culture and depth to Khol’s world and gives the concept a bit more power where the word ‘soulmate’ is lacking.