Book Review: The Keeper of Portals by V. S. Nelson


A change of genre is good for the soul every now and again…how about a time-slip fantasy with supernatural beings for a change from crime fiction? So why this book? It’ll become much clearer once you read the blurb, but it has a Keeper for everything, curiosity got the better of me and I had to know if I was a character in this book, was there a Keeper of Pages?

Book Description:

After the death of his dad, Martin and his mum move into an enormous stately home where they encounter a mysterious being called the Keeper of Portals, who claims to control every portal on the planet, except for the door at the end of Martin’s bedroom, which has been sealed for 400 years.

One morning, Martin wakes to discover the Keeper of Portals is missing and the door at the end of his bedroom has been opened. Martin steps through the door to find himself in the 17th century where he meets Isabel, the house’s maid. Martin and Isabel quickly learn that everything on earth, from time and causality, to pleasantries and buttons, is controlled by its own keeper. After discovering two imprisoned keepers, Martin and Isabel receive the ability to jump between doorways and change their time, but they soon become entangled in a battle against the master of the house, the Keeper of Questions.

The Keeper of Portals follows Martin and Isabel as they alternate between the present day and the 17th century, often returning to a time they have already been to and nearly running into past versions of themselves. They fight hordes of murderous villagers, escape from the Keeper of Questions by hiding in a sea cave for 400 years and confront the powerful Keeper of Causality. But there is something wrong with time itself as items from the present day begin to bleed into Isabel’s time. After driving an off-road 4×4 through the peaceful countryside of the 17th century, Martin and Isabel confront the Keeper of Questions in the city of London. But when they arrive they find it deserted – the Keeper of Questions has control of everyone in London and it won’t be long until Martin and Isabel are next.

The Keeper of Portals is an adventure story that explores the supernatural and is an ideal read for young adults. Inspired by authors such as Philip Pullman and Neil Gaiman, this book will be enjoyed by fans of time-slip fantasies, both children and adults alike.

My Thoughts:

Before reading this book, I was a little apprehensive for several reasons: firstly, a google search of this book stated the target reading audience was middle grade. Secondly, this book falls in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, a genre I rarely read. However, when the author contacted me to say that in this book, everything in the universe has a keeper – a Keeper of Time, a Keeper of Casuality, a Keeper of Buttons etc etc – would I be interested in reading it? Curiosity proved strong and I gladly accepted a copy.

I must say, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book; the level of creativity and imagination within the pages was a delight. The blurb is quite detailed so I won’t talk two much about the plot; as the reader you join Martin on his journey, and through the use of your imagination you can meet all the Keepers he encounters. Martin is a likeable character, as is Isabel and the friendship these too develop is really rather heartwarming.  Martin is 15 years old, Isabel is of a similar age when he meets her, but she’s from the 17th century so technically she is 400 years older than him – that concept I was able to get my head around. However, some of the time-hopping elements confused me. The time-travel between the present time and the 17th century via a portal was fine, and I liked the contrasting descriptions between Martin’s house in the present compared to the past. However, when a few other time periods were introduced, I really had to pay attention to not get lost. If you’re a fan of time-hop and grasp the concept easily, I’m sure you’ll have no problem keeping up with this story.

The action in this book was enough to keep me entertained and I preferred the faster paced parts of the story. There was some well-placed elements of humour too! At times, I thought the pace slowed a little too much, it made the story feel incredibly long winded and I found myself thinking this book didn’t need to be quiet so many pages. Martin and Isabel’s relationship really stole the show for me though, I don’t want to call it romance as it was more like ‘ah bless, that’s so cute, they have a crush on each other.’ And the ending, well someone could have warned me, a book written for children had the potential to rip out my heart, in a good way, a way that let me know Martin and Isabel were such great characters that all I could think at the end of the book was ‘oh, bless ’em’ – this may be children’s fiction but you won’t find any spoilers here!

It’s important to mention, the themes featured in this story are written for a much younger audience so don’t expect anything too complex (except grasping the full concept of time travel!) If sci-fi/fantasy isn’t your usual reading genre, or you don’t enjoy books for a [much] younger audience, as an adult, you may find this book isn’t for you really but if you have a younger sibling, young children, cousin, niece, nephew etc etc, and they like time hop and fantasy books then I strongly recommend you buy them this book. While this book can be enjoyed by adults, it is age appropriate, there’s nothing within these pages, violence, humour or “romance”, that I wouldn’t be comfortable with my 10 year old son reading. That should give you an indication of the strength of said themes. Even though this is my first time reading this book, it reminds me of those books you read as a child, then read again as an adult and it brings back all those happy feelings/memories.

Throughout this read, I discovered many keepers. Fundamental Keepers were born with the earth and will die with it. Major Keepers arrived after the world was created and will live for millions of years. Minor Keepers can live from a nanosecond to thousands of years, and the Keeper of Pages falls within this group of Keepers. Sadly, I didn’t encounter a Keeper of Pages (V.S. Nelson, please let me know if there is one and I somehow missed it!) but there are approximately 75,567 Minor Keepers so I know out there somewhere I exist  😉

*My thanks to the author for providing me with a digital copy of this book*

This books is available to buy now from: Amazon UK / Book Depository

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Keeper of Portals by V. S. Nelson

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