Review: Guardian of the Gate, by Michelle Zink

Guardian of the Gate is the second book in the Prophecy of the Sisters series, click here to read my review of the first book.

Lia and Sonia have been in London for nine months now. They are getting ready to travel to Altus, the mystical island where Lia's aunt will tell them where to find the Prophecy's missing pages. These pages are important to Lia, as they are suppose to tell her how to end the Prophecy and defeat her sister Alice. They are soon joined by Edmond and Luisa and leave on the perilous journey to Altus. They are joined and helped by Dimitri, a boy Lia finds herself attracted to. They are pursued by Hounds and face betrayal within their ranks. It is a long way to Altus and an even longer way to the missing pages, but Lia is determined to see her quest through and end the Prophecy once and for all.

The first book of this series felt a bit gothic and was definitely intriguing, I got sucked into the Prophecy and really wanted to know more about it. The second book was, in my opinion, disappointing. Most of the book follows Lia, her two friends (and Keys to the Prophecy) Sonia and Luisa, her faithful servant Edmond, and a new powerful ally, Dimitri, on their way to Altus. The second book is more of a quest/adventure story than a gothic mystery like the first one. Still, while a bit slow, the plot moves forward steadily and more details are slowly revealed, but very few, and maybe not enough, in the end. Most of all, we are introduced to a new character and love interest, Dimitri. Now, if you have read this blog for a while you know I am highly critical of love stories in YA fiction, but I am not immune to them. I like them when they are well written. This was not one of them. It was one of those almost-love-at-first-sight-I-trust-you-almost-immediately-I-don't-know-why-but-you-bring-me-such-comfort-and-I-feel-safe-with-you relationship. It had almost immediate making out sessions by campfire light, even though this is suppose to be the 19th century. Oh I'm sure people still made out in those times in secret even though it was considered improper. After all, all those stereotypes about quiet gardeners and sexy stable boys must have come from somewhere, but really? It was not written in a believable fashion. Not to me anyway. I was rolling my eyes so hard, I gave myself a headache. Not only that, but Dimitri? He was boring. Look, he was a nice guy, and I like nice guys. They are not present enough in YA fiction. But they are also hard to write. He had no personality. He was brave and strong and loved Lia unconditionally almost immediately. He was ready to die for her, right there and then. He was so much about her, he was the male equivalent of all those empty females characters you see in Hollywood movies that are there to help the hero on their way and offer them emotional support, but have no real life of their own.

That said the love story did not take over the whole plot, which is a good thing. Lia did keep her eyes on her goals, and never really forgot her purpose or quest. In my review of the first book, I presumed I would love Lia more in the sequels, and I was partly right. I did not dislike her, but I was indifferent to her for most of the book. It is only toward the end, when she is finally on her own, that she shows how strong she can be, and in those moments, I really liked her. My favourite characters were still Luisa and Sonia, although their relationship with Lia was obscured by Dimitri, and I would have much prefered if their bond had been more at the forefront of the story like it was in the first book.

This series is told from Lia's first point of view, but I think, for me, it would have been much better if it had been told from a third-person point of view. It could still focused on Lia, but it would have been nice to have some insight into other characters once in a while. For example, Alice is almost absent from this novel, because Lia and her are no longer together. But Alice is such an interesting character, and through the novel all the characters kept mentioning how powerful she was becoming, how evil and determined, but we never saw it truly. It would have been nice to have some chapters from her point of view. Since this is a story about a Prophecy between two sisters on opposing sides, it would have been nice to see both sides. It really made me realize how important the choice of point-of-view in a story can be.

In spite of its fault, though, I really really want to know how the whole story ends. The whole mythology atround the Prophecy is interesting and characters are changing and evolving and I think it will still be entertaining to read the last book, Circle of Fire, coming out this August.

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