In this YA fantasy sequel to The Gatekeeper’s Son (2014), Fladmark’s heroes must meet the increasing threat of the reptilian Evil Ones.
James “Junya” Thompson is the teenage heir to his grandfather’s business empire. He was raised in Japan, but his family now lives in San Francisco, where he learned of the Gatekeepers—warrior women who can travel instantaneously to anywhere on Earth and between otherworldly realms. After being bitten by Bartholomew, the leader of the reptilian Evil Ones, James bonds with Shoko, a Gatekeeper his own age. She brings him to a hot spring near the Himalayas to treat his mostly healed, though still occasionally painful, wounds. The Kannushi, or high priest, of Izumo (Shoko’s world) believes that the residue of Bartholomew’s dark power is what allows James to travel as the Gatekeepers do. In the mountains, James and Shoko learn that the shaman of a nearby village has been killed by something the locals call “the Black Life-Stealing Fiend.” James senses that Evil Ones committed the murder, and Shoko determines that they’re targeting shamans who perform ceremonies near open gateways. Keeping the realm of the gods safe is her first priority; James, meanwhile, hopes to woo her, so he stays close, working to master the powers growing within him while also spending time with his best friend, Mack Anderson. Fladmark expands the emotional scope of the series when Shoko asks James early on, “Why do you want to be alone with me?” Teenage yearning is at the core of this sequel (“I ran my hand over her stomach, taut with muscle yet still soft”), but the book also maintains a philosophical edge: Shoko says that “expectations are the root of all turmoil,” and when a trendy new app is proposed to help quell the masses, James asks a room of overpaid businessmen, “If keeping people happy is the goal, then why not give everyone a fair share?” Action fans won’t be disappointed, though, as the heroes train a youthful army to battle the Evil Ones. Shoko’s late-stage epiphany sets up a potentially calamity-filled next installment.
Young love intensifies the action in this sequel.