• Title: Lichgates (Grimoire Triolgy #1)
• Author: S.M. Boyce
• Publisher: Delphi Publishing
• Release date: October 15, 2011
• Category: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Lichgates is a vibrant, imaginative story of a world hidden within our world and accessed via a kind of portal called a Lichgate. Kara Magari is hiking along a hidden trail when she comes upon a Lichgate. She steps through and finds herself in Ourea, a world of mountains covered in deep forests and peppered with caves and massive waterfalls. She falls into a library and discovers the Grimoire, a magical book that has been hidden for 1,000 years. It turns its own pages, answers any question asked of it, and contain the images of a variety of magical creatures which can be called from the book into reality.
When she opens it, she becomes the new Vagabond, the bearer of the Grimoire and is tasked to continue the previous Vagabonds work of bringing peace to Ourea. The trouble is that the four different races all want to control the Vagabond and have access to the Grimoire’s secrets.
She meets Braeden Drakonin, a native of Ourea, and reluctant prince of one of the races. He’s spent his life trying to run from his evil father and hiding the nature of his heritage. He hopes that the Grimoire will free him from his father’s control, so he aims to stay with Kara until he gets a chance to use it. But he ends up becoming her protector and only ally in a dangerous world.
When Kara’s father is killed by an Isen, a soul eater who slipped through the gate into the human world to get to him, Kara has nothing left to tie her to our world and embraces Ourea. Of the four races, only one is anything like humans, and none of them can be trusted. They live in amazing cities, one under the ocean and one built in huge trees. The world the author has built in this story is exceptional.
Kara has to find the four pieces of a map hidden in each of the four kingdoms and follow it to the now deserted village of the Vagabond . His spirit is held in the book and he tries to get her to continue the work he died for, but Kara thinks for herself and plans a different way to bring peace to Ourea.
This is very much the first book in what promises to be an epic. Lichgate establishes the world, the task and the complex nature of the issues involved. As the story evolves so does our understanding of Braeden’s personal challenge, one that echoes that of every child seeking autonomy from their parents, but in this case, the situation is painful and desperate.
The book held my interest and I enjoyed and grew close to all the characters. I particularly loved Flick, the little creature with the huge eyes and fury tail (I’m a sucker for that kind of character), and the characters of each of Kara’s strange animal mounts and the relationship between them was beautifully done.
The book didn’t so much end as just stop, which I didn’t mind because it was a good place to stop and clearly we are just beginning the story. I finished it quite satisfied with the pace of the plot and the balance of action to character and relationship building scenes.
The only issues I had with the book were that although they were well done, the descriptions could have been tightened up a bit and made less repetitive, and there were some typos. Nothing that can’t be easily fixed and I expect it will be. I’d like to give it 5 stars, but because of these issues which admittedly may not be noticed by other readers, I’m sticking with four. Either way, it goes in the Awesome Indies. Anyone who likes high fantasy will enjoy this book, especially if you’re looking for what is clearly going to be a good long ride through a wondrous world.
This review was written by Tahlia Newland.