3 Star, Adventure, Fantasy, February '21, Fiction, Middle grade, Reviews, Young Adult

Storm’s Gate Review

Storm’s gate is the third book in a fantasy series by J.W Golan, The Stormfall Chronicles. Golan very kindly gifted me the first two books when they came out (find the reviews here and here), and I was very excited to be offered the chance to read an early copy of Storm’s Gate in exchange for review, as the previous books in the series were great fun. As always, all reviews expressed here are my own and completely honest, as well as spoiler free! If you’d like to buy Storm’s Gate for yourself, click the link here to be taken to amazon (opens in a new window).

The blurb of Storm’s Gate is as follows:

A world descending into war; a fabled healer who might be their last, best hope; and a princess imprisoned in a dragon-guarded keep.

Lynette sets out with Baxter and Eirlon in search of a healer: the fabled Medicine Man of Horru. It is a desperate gamble to revive the fae king and avert a larger war.

But the route they take will prove perilous. They risk losing everything, even each other, in a world gone mad with the stirrings of war. Armies have gathered on the borders of the Feyfell – lured by legends of fae wealth. With King Elyan poisoned and unconscious, the kingdom is visible, and vulnerable to outside invaders for the first time in centuries. And while the fae nobles debate rules of succession, Princess Elise remains missing.

For in a tower a world away, the fae princess is held captive, surrounded by armies and a dragon chained to the will of vengeful sorceress. Drained of her magic, Elise must plot her own escape – while a new breed of assassins hunts the mage-turned-swordsman named Garth. Werewolves prowl the land again, as all alike seek to strike their bargains before the oncoming war.

Will it be too much for Lynette to bear? Can she survive the loss of so much she holds dear? And if she does, will she ever be the same? For who among them would dare ascend, to retrieve hope from a dragon-guarded keep.

Book Three of the Stormfall Chronicles, Storm’s Gate is an Epic Fantasy for all ages.

When I first started this book, I plunged right in despite not having read the previous books for months. I had forgotten, however, the number of storylines I would be confronted with, so in the interest of understanding the book before I got to the end, I reread the last few chapters of Storm’s Clouds. Not only did this give me a rough idea of where we were, it also reminded me that there is an incredibly helpful glossary of characters at the back that I could refer to as I immersed myself in Golan’s world.

I think the key thing to take away from this review is that this series is chaotic, but great fun the whole time you’re reading it. One of the things I like about it is (as far as I can tell) there’s no deeper meaning or hidden symbolism that needs intense analysis- it really is a middle grade/YA traditional fantasy, complete with dragons, elves, gnomes and magic. Yes, it grows more complicated as the plot unfolds, as evidenced by the growing thickness of each book, but it’s the kind of plot I can sit down to read with a grin. Don’t get me wrong, I love an intense, intricate fantasy world with complex characters and political factions, but sometimes you just want a lighter read. It jumps around from perspective to perspective very frequently, sometimes lasting less than a page, so you never get bored and there isn’t any shortage of action.

One of my favourite elements was when we switched to a viewpoint not seen for a while, for example Kalden, who we hadn’t seen since the previous book. It’s like meeting an old friend, catching up, seeing what’s going on in his life. There’s a lot of stereotypical fantasy characters (more on that in a minute) but I got strangely attached to the odd bunch. There were plenty of moments that made me laugh, although I’m not sure whether I was supposed to. For example, I started picturing the vampires looking like human-shaped naked mole rats for some reason, and after that I could not take a single scene with a vampire seriously. If you’ve never encountered a naked mole rat, please give it a search. They’re hilarious. I can’t choose a favourite character; I love Garth’s range, Elise’s determination, the council’s idiocy, Garth’s unpredictability, Cadfael’s dry humour, Iolyn’s ability to hold the entire of Feyfell together, Garth. Okay, so maybe I do have a favourite character. What can I say, he makes me laugh.

The quibbles I have with this book are minor. The dialogue quite often made me cringe, it just felt quite unnatural. Baxter and Lynette’s relationship, despite the fact they’re both supposed to be young adults, seemed juvenile, which was weird because they both acted normally the rest of the time. This is likely what lead to my aversion to anything from Baxter’s POV, he described Lynette like a 10-year-old who has never seen a woman sometimes, and compares her to Callisto, an older woman he meets. There’s also a parallel to the first book, Storm’s Herald, in which Lynette meets Garth and travels with him through the forest. If you’ve read my previous reviews, you know I wasn’t cool with this, I thought his nickname of ‘little bird’ for her was creepy. To my dismay we get a similar situation where Baxter is travelling through the forest with an older woman named Callisto, who calls him ‘little cub’. Again, why? The book could function perfectly well without it. The only other thing that made me roll my eyes was the frequent repetition of the characters’ backgrounds as simple, peasant, farm folk, and how they were completely unqualified to be leaders, warriors etc. If you’ve got to the third book in the series, you already know this, so this many reminders were unnecessary.

This brings me onto the ending. As in the rest of the review, there’s no specific spoilers, just my thoughts on the events. Unlike lots of books, this ending could by no means be called a resolution. About one storyline was resolved, while a thousand more questions and possibilities sprung from the rest of them. There was twists galore and some unexpected moments, almost random, but overall I enjoyed it and I will definitely be reading the sequel.

I hope you and your families are as well as can be, and if any of you have read any of the series, I would love to chat about it! I can be contacted using any of the social media links below, or my contact page here. Stay safe and keep going- this isn’t an easy time, so I hope you all can find solace in books or other ways.

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