This book, Beckoning Of The Gate (The Vāyilian Threads Book 1) by Benjamin J Ryan, surprised me with the dark undertones it immediately had from the gap between the main character and her parents, as well as the lost goat. But I love the slow build of the plot, little details like not knowing if the key is a good thing or an evil thing. If you love following the coming of age character development of a girl who didn’t really believe in wights, the seelie and the unseelie to a woman fully invested, then this book is for you. If you’re into cats and dogs with strong, snarky personalities, then all the better.
Beckoning of the Gate does a great job of hooking the reader in immediately. Then it slows down a little with the background information. It’s almost parallel to Santha learning the skills she needs. She was active in her “normal” life and then everything is slowed down to focus on expanding her skills and nothing is like her life before. She has boring book learning, as well as geography, self defense, and survival skills. Prior to this she had the typical home skills of caring for her goats and spinning their wool with some cooking and herblore, but not much else to be completely independent on her own. Her mentor and teacher, who runs the school where she has taken refuge, is a complex character whom we hardly get to know. This seems to be done intentionally as we read this from Santha’s point of view and she is buried in her emotions.
The cat/dog, whom I won’t name to avoid spoilers, is an amazing character to meet. And along with the tavern keeper/storyteller, is one of my favorite characters. The key deserves to be thought of as a character as well. Even the “evil” unseelie type of characters have personalities that resonate with the reader. Benjamin Ryan does a fantastic job creating intricate and yet simplistic details of characters and building them layer upon layer.
I absolutely recommend this book for older middle schoolers and above. There is a “slow down” period that is integral for the story’s development but lacks some action so you need a reader with stamina to absorb that to move on to the excitement again. There is a little drama and people die, but the descriptions while bloody are not gory nor overtly violent. There are references to a rape, but the focus isn’t on the act but upon how people believe what they want to believe and the emotions tied to the judgements and gossip of others. This is handled perfectly for YA.