The evil witch Agrona’s heart and body are hidden separately and only the powerful wizard Merrydian knows where. Something is stirring and Agrona’s demonic army are ready to make their move. All they need to reawaken the witch is the blood of Merrydian or his heir.
When Violet arrives on Falinn Galdur, she unintentionally sets into motion a series of events that will awaken Agrona. Can Merrydian prevent the rising of the Agrona or is Violet doomed by fate to revive the witch intent on stealing her heart.
Before I start this review I must first tell you that the author is my wife. This could mean that I am slightly biased and that I fear for the survival of my marriage when writing this but that is not the case. This is an honest review and in no way did my wife’s menacing glare, whilst I wrote this, influence my judgement.
The story starts of telling the story of Gweniveev who is expecting to meet a relative, unfortunately this turns out to be a trap which results in her demise. We find out that Gweniveev is the daughter of Merrydian and is in possession of magical powers, these powers allow her to send a message to another heir in the distant future. Gweniveev’s death is ordered by the powerful witch Agrona, who requires the hearts of magical individuals to ensure her immortality and help her in her goal of world domination. Merrydian, having lost all that he loves is able to defeat Agrona but not kill her; instead she is trapped within her own body and hidden away from those who might seek to restore her.
We then meet Violet, your average teenage girl, trying to juggle work, a social life and school. After work one evening she and a friend, Dahlia, find themselves confronted by an otherworldly being called a Gnarl. When trying to escape the Gnarl, Violet accidently unlocks and steps through a portal which transports her to the hidden island of Fallin Galdurr, she soon learns that she is heir to the most powerful wizard in existence Meridian and her being on the Island has potentially set into motion events needed to bring Agrona out of her slumberous state. Violet and her new companions must then race against time and ensure Agrona can never awake again.
There’s an abundance of characters created by Amy, each unique and imaginative, belonging to one of the different races, themselves well thought out and each with differentiating characteristics. There are three main humanoid races, there’s the warrior race of Worlen’s, ruled by a cruel King and inhabiting the expansive Forge Gate. Then there are the Banshees, mystical and majestic, yet in possession of voices that can blow a man’s head off. The Bobbins are the first race Violet comes into contact with, similar to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbits, small in stature, resourceful and caring, Bettery, one such Bobbin instantly takes a liking to Violet becoming a kind of mother figure throughout the novel.
Violet herself is a young teenage girl who is both compulsive and brave, the book itself is written in Violets inner voice and there are time where she can be frustrating in the decisions she makes, which in my experience, as a secondary school teacher, describes a young teenage girl perfectly. There’s also Jestin the young Worlen general, second born son of the King and duty bound to lead the armies of the Worlen people and refrain from any kind of relationship particularly that with someone outside of the Worlen race. It’s interesting to read how Violet and Jestin, although have feelings towards each other, can never develop their relationship and constantly fight their urges when in each other’s presence. My favourite character has to be Balthus, a proper bloke, a proper appetite and thirst for ale; described as an imposing physical character. Once general of the Worlen Army but stripped of this duty, he is now spoken about like some legend and still revered by the Worlen people. Caring, friendly and a character with a hidden secret, he intrigues me and I want to read more into his backstory, hopefully this will be brought up in future novels, I will have to ask the wife nicely and not piss her off otherwise she will kill him off.
Merrydian is the powerful wizard who has hidden the Island from the world we know in order to ensure the safety of magical beings. He is an extremely powerful wizard but his appearance is that of a frail old man. He reminds me of Dumbledore from Harry Potter, but due to his cantankerous personality brings a lot of humour to the book and the dialogue between him and others had me laughing out loud.
Merrydian’s gate is well written and Amy was able to transport me into Falinn Galdur through her descriptions of the setting and characters, it is a book I look forward to reading the sequel to, and I will no doubt be able to do this long before anyone else. This is a book which all readers of fantasy and young adult novels will enjoy and will no doubt have you eagerly waiting for book two.