My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: October 29th, 2019
Diversity: LGBTQ+ (ace main character + trans side character)
Trigger warnings: Violence, Death, toxic relationship, Attempted suicide.
Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen …
Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.
When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.
A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom … – synopsis from Goodreads
“Perhaps that was for the best. Some secrets weren’t meant to be discovered. Some doors not meant to be opened.”
Before even knowing what this book was about I knew I wanted it just by the gorgeous cover. After taking a moment and reading the synopsis I wanted to read it even more because it mentioned having an asexual character and you know I am here for that.
Kamai is a soulwalker. With the help of her mother, Kamai learns to walk in the “nehym” (soul house) of the people that surround her. This practice is considered very dangerous and is illegal to anyone that is not a priest or priestess. One’s “nehym” always presents itself as house and each is different. But there is always one thing that is common to all the soul houses that Kamai visits – the mysterious black door. Her mother warned her never open the black door. After her whole life is turned upside down Kamai will do something that will change her life – she opens the door. While she prepares to be presented to court Kamai will be faced with secret guilds and complex conspiracies.
Firstly, I want to say that Beyond the Black Door is not a fast non-stop action book. Well, at least it wasn’t for me. It was a slow burn with very dense world-building. The story takes place in the present and in the souls «nehym» of the people Kamai soul walks. It was very well detailed that I didn’t confuse where the action was taking place at the moment. Though I found it hard to see were both of the stories would reach each other. But by the end of it it all made sense.
Kamai is a strong female character. Even with everything that is happening to her she pushes through and fights for what she wants and believes in. I really enjoyed her character arc. I found it interesting the way the author portrayed her coming to grips with her asexuality. We see her questioning herself throughout a big part of the book before she understands that she is asexual. This questioning will have her put herself in sexual situations. Wondering why she feels different than most of the people. I have to say that there is some internalized acephobia from the character but as her story unfolds we really see her settle in her own skin and start to understand that her feelings are valid.
In Beyond the Black Door the author created a unique intricate dark twisty fantasy that introduces a very thought out mythology based on the sun, moon and earth. Though the pace of the story is a bit on the slower side, the concept and originality of the book were very well done.
If you are a fan of Labyrinth, Phantom and the Opera or Pan’s Labyrinth odds are you will enjoy this book.