The Gods' interactions in and observations of human affairs are evident in the beginning: "Humans didn’t realize how lucky they were, Than thought as he took the woman’s hand. At least, if they were mostly good, they could live a brief life with some kinds of freedoms and then spend eternity in a dreamlike trance, unaware of the monotony around them."
And this sets the stage for the rest of the story revolving around Therese's deal with the gods, which requires her to avenge the death of her parents with the help of Than, who has fallen in love with her and who has struck a deal with his father Hades to return to the Upperworld to try to win her.
It's important to note that the weaving of Greek mythology into the underlying plot and the twining involvement of Therese with these gods requires readers to enjoy mystery as well as fantasy and romance. Therese's experiences operate on all three levels and so The Gatekeeper's Sons is not easily identified as being one thing or another, but holds strong elements of various genres.
Secondly, the characters really make the story. This should be true of most young adult novels; but sadly, it isn't. The motivations, anguish, romance, and drive for revenge and resolution that permeates The Gatekeeper's Sons is satisfyingly diverse. Its setting offers mystery but also provides explanations for how romance evolves and how Therese's quest for justice becomes entangled in this process.
There's also more than a touch of the supernatural as Therese longs to be with her parents more than she can initially accept Than's love: "I don’t care about the real villain. I want to be with my parents. Take me, too.” She stumbled forward and into Than’s arms. “Take me to them,” she said again. He kissed the top of her hair. “I told you, you wouldn’t be the same if I did.” “I don’t care,” she whispered breathlessly. “That’s not why I’m here.”
But what is the hidden cost of revenge? Soon Therese finds that her destiny and her choices are being assessed by the gods and controlled by oaths and alliances far beyond her understanding. In the midst of all this a love grows up between a mortal and a god: a love that might offer no easy paths.
Being Book One, The Gatekeeper's Sons provides no neat conclusion but leaves the door open - wide open - for Book Two in the saga. Fans of this book who appreciate its blend of romance, mythology and mystery will await Book Two with baited breath: the combination of mythical and human worlds is satisfyingly complex and concludes with evidence that the real drama is only just beginning.
Stay tuned for further developments!D. Donovon
Midwestern Book Review
In this teen fantasy novel and love story, an orphaned girl finds herself at the center of a war brewing among the gods of Olympus.
When a book opens with a bang like this, readers might expect great things. Fifteen-year-old Therese is riding in a car with her parents when a gunman opens fire, hitting her mother and causing her father to careen off the road into a pond. Before Therese can free herself from the submerged car, she watches helplessly as both her parents die. Pohler’s (The Mystery Box, 2012, etc.) description of their deaths is gruesomely clear and heartbreaking. While Therese is still in a coma following the accident, she travels through the dream world and meets two alluring young men, Hypnos, or Hip, and Thanatos, or Than, twin sons of Hades. Hip is a cad—he says things like “Are we going to make out now, or what?”—while Than is quiet and sensitive. Than, whose job is to eternally guide the souls of the dead to the entrance of the underworld, is immediately drawn to Therese. After this fast and eventful introduction . . . Than makes a deal with his father: 40 days among humans to try to make Therese his bride, with some stiff and arbitrary conditions attached; these are Greek gods, after all. . . . The entire pantheon of Greek gods picks sides, and, in an arena battle sure to thrill Hunger Games fans, Therese shows her mettle. The outcome neatly tees things up for the three books (at least) in the series still to come.--Kirkus Reviews
“I loved this book.”--Book Maven“From page one, I couldn’t put it down.”–Books, Books, and More Books
“I definitely adored this book.” –A Book So Fathomless
“This book quickly became a page turner, and toward the end I was biting my nails!”–Mama Bookasaurus
“A real mini mythology lesson!” –Tome Tender
“Would I recommend this book? Hells yes (pun intended)!” –Why I Can’t Stop Reading
“I love nothing more than a great series I can really sink my teeth into, and I think this series will end up being one of my favorites.” –My Escape Into Books
“I love the fact that this story is mythologically accurate. . . . Even the trail riding and equine aspects of this novel, where present, are factual.” –Pure Jonel