Spoiler Free Summary: The Door Keeper by Steen Jones was my March Book Cover of the Month. It’s a fantasy story about Eden Saunders, a young single mother whose trip to learn more about her birth mother thrusts her into realms she’d never imagine. As she learns more of her place of origin, her mother’s secrets and tragedies leave her with a choice that will affect not only her life, but that of her young daughter.
Character: Eden has some sympathy to her, and she’s proactive. Honestly, my knock on her is she’s a bit too proactive. I found myself wishing she’d thought of a few things more carefully before she found herself in danger. This seemed like an intentional character flaw to me as she habitually acts first and then considers those consequences later. Some of those impulsive decisions didn’t necessarily sit well with me, but her actions lead to more interesting conflicts which have higher stakes. Some of these characters were interesting, but unexplored. Marek, is a character I would’ve liked to have seen explored more. His arc was probably the most interesting, but it wasn’t honestly pursued.
Exposition: If I’m being honest, it’s been too long for me to remember much about the exposition. It was first person narrative, but I don’t honestly recall too much exposition. It could be the amount of time it’s been, but I don’t think so. I’d remember being slowed down by a ton of exposition, and this book didn’t slow me down that much. I have to be honest about the time though. I’d say it was done only when necessary if I was forced to comment on it.
Worldbuilding: This is the best quality of this book. The realms are interesting. This is what kept me reading. Portals (or in this case literal doors) to other places aren’t rare in fiction like this, but the world building for each culture and each setting stand apart. The author seemed to have given a lot of thought to the appearance of each realm as well as the political landscape.
Dialogue: This was hit or miss for me. Sometimes it was snappy, but other times it felt a tad forced. I’d never go so far as to say it was ever stilted or bad, but the snappy, witty segments showed promises of what could be where the more forced or stereotypical dialog passages were harder to handle because I knew what Jones could do.
Description: If the worldbuilding is the best aspect of the book, this is the next closest. Jones makes each setting and location feel visceral. I honestly think her magical realms feel more real sometimes than her Earth realm settings. I think her worldbuilding and description work together brilliantly. This means if wondrous landscapes and brilliant details are priorities for you, this book is probably right up your alley.
Overall: This was an ambitiously optimistic novel with a fascinating world to explore. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone looking for stories jam-packed with conflict. The problems and challenges are quickly overcome without a lot of effort or sacrifice. (Some may argue the sacrifice part, but I’m willing to have it with whoever wants.) That said, some readers appreciate a story that’s happy and hopeful throughout. The entertainment of the story is in the experience of the worlds, not the evolution of it’s characters. Fans of wondrous landscapes and interesting settings will love it.
Thanks for reading,