A 17-year-old must save a magical world in a novel that blends reality and fantasy.
At the beginning of Rosegrant’s YA debut, Dan Hillman is bored. He has plenty on his mind—his new crush and his upcoming college applications, class trip, prom and high school graduation—but he can’t seem to get excited about anything. That changes when he wakes up one night to find his favorite childhood stuffed animal playing “World of Warcraft.” Dan learns that his beaver has been possessed by a creature calling himself Billy Portman, a “gatekeeper” from the world of Inland, which exists alongside the real world. Billy’s world needs help from Dan, who will have to find it before he can learn his purpose there. Divided into three sections, the novel involves Dan’s attempts to find his way to Inland, his journey in that magical realm and his return to his own world to act as instructed. Dan sets out on his trip with Maggie, the goth girl he has a crush on, and they encounter a river enchantress, witches, goblins and other supernatural creatures. Maggie feels at home in Inland and is entranced by one of the witches. What is Maggie’s connection to Inland, and what does Inland need from Dan? Gatemoodle is the first book of the Gates of Inland series, which will answer some questions in future installments. As it is, some characters in this action-packed novel aren’t developed much past archetypes, and its young hero seems to accept his new role a bit easily. Dan is a funny and likable protagonist, however, and Rosegrant links his regular and fantasy lives well. It’s also interesting to have a protagonist in a fantasy novel who likes fantasy, including games such as “World of Warcraft,” himself. His interests allow him to make fun connections in Inland that the more typical reluctant hero of fantasy might have missed. The novel also gives well-known fairy-story tropes a modern twist through Dan’s point of view.
A fantasy journey with an engaging teenage main character.