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9 March 2021

Publisher: Gate Key Publishing

Written By: J.G. Blodgett

RRP: £7.17 / $9.99 (Paperback) | £2.16 / $2.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 9th March 2021

For fans of epic fantasy, J.G. Blodgett's 'The Dark Light' (Book 1 in The Gate Key Chronicles) delivers a gripping, well-thought-out saga, that will have kids, teens and adults alike captivated.

It focuses on Jimmy Mankins and Amelia Miller; childhood friends who share a mysterious secret that opens the way to a dark threat from another world.

The book begins with the prologue and a mystery; Jimmy (simply known as 'Boy'), wakes up at the edge of a field with a hazy memory of who and where he is. He quickly discovers Amelia, and with the help of both their Father's, they return to a place of warmth and safety. As the prologue draws to a close, however, questions are left unanswered - tantalising the reader by wanting to know more.

We are then properly introduced to Jimmy and Amelia, and the next few chapters beautifully captures the beginning of their special friendship, as well as, despite some differences, touching on the many parallels between their lives.

There is a wonderful scene in Chapter Three that juxtaposes Jimmy and Amelia's home environment - but, like with most of their relationship, there's something that connects them. Rather perfectly, (and sure this may sound odd), it's reflected in broccoli; Jimmy's dinner is a humble one with sausages, mashed potato (out of a packet) and broccoli - whereas Amelia is tucking into a steak dinner, with broccoli as her accompaniment. It was so poetically written, and I don't think I've ever seen a vegetable used in such a meaningful way!

As the story unfolds, Amelia entrusts her own secret to Jimmy, and we discover how everything is connected and why their world's are fatefully thrown together. The author uses time to dip back and forth in the narrative to fill in some gaps along the way. It acts as a nice break in the story-telling, whilst fleshing out our protagonist's backstories.

There is, of course, a lingering threat throughout The Dark Light (as the title suggest). Something that you know is coming, but not entirely sure of what form it will take. Be it school bullies, dark creatures, or an oncoming storm, you feel protective of our protagonists and want nothing bad to happen to them.

The relatively small cast of characters are incredibly well-rounded and layered. Jimmy's father (Donald), for example, is someone you don't necessarily like, but one simple line a few chapters in: "time in the Vietnam War" - instantly gives you a small sense of sympathy and understanding for him. Amelia also sees Donald's redeemable qualities; "he was capable of being the father he once was".

As a reader, I was unaware of just how much emotion there could be in the story. The rich relationships between the characters, between father and son, father and daughter. The way in which loss is dealt with (or not), and how faith is something that can drive you through even the toughest situations. Yes it's a fantasy, but it's one with a surprisingly grounded heart that makes you simply feel every word on the page.

If there was a comparison, I'd say it was Stranger Things meets The Neverending Story. It's simply screaming out to be made into a Netflix series.! You can almost feel the natural cliffhangers to each episode and with more books to come, there's a lot of mileage, here. 

I am so pleased and feel privileged to have read The Dark Light. It was so much more than I had hoped for (hence the length of this review), and whilst I have no idea what form Book 2 will take, believe me when I say that I will be hounding the author for it's release, as it can't come soon enough!

+  The Gate Key Chronicles: The Dark Light is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @JGBlodgett on Twitter.

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