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Publishers Weekly Review
Horowitz (the Alex Rider series) unveils a thoroughly creepy new tale with this first entry in the Gatekeepers series. The novel opens as 14-year-old Matt Freeman reluctantly helps an older friend break into a warehouse. A frequent truant (he has lived with his aunt since his parents were killed in a car accident), Matt's problems grow exponentially worse when he finds himself charged as an accessory to assault after his friend stabs a security guard during the failed burglary. Matt is offered a chance to participate in the LEAF Program (Liberty and Education Achieved Through Fostering), which sends troubled youths to rural settings where "there are fewer temptations." In the custody of severe, stern Mrs. Deverill, Matt must clean the pigsty among other chores. But his tasks pale compared to the gathering threat in the village of Lesser Malling. Though he tries to escape, Matt finds his attempts thwarted by unseen forces, and he soon realizes that his presence in Lesser Malling is no accident. Among Mrs. Deverill's belongings he makes a chilling discovery: "The photograph was black-and-white, taken with a telephoto lens.... With a sense of horror and sickness, he realized he was looking at a picture of himself. This was his parents' funeral. Six years ago." Sinister magic melds with modern technology, and Matt's few allies are killed off one by one. Horowitz's talent for building suspense is as strong as ever, and this unnatural tale, which descends into ancient evils, should attract a strong following. Ages 12-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-At the outset of this first book in Anthony Horowitz's latest series (Scholastic, 2005), 14-year-old Matt is arrested at the scene of an electronics warehouse break-in. Soon, he's remanded to the home of a crone in a country village. She's ornery, but the village is out and out creepy: he can't find a road that goes anywhere but in a circle and it seems everyone to whom he turns for help winds up dead. Horowitz's Alex Rider books presented the boy against the system of national espionage. Matt's situation is even worse-his opponents are witches. Simon Prebble's pacing as Matt struggles from quicksand, is chased by dinosaurs through the Natural History Museum, and finds himself about to be sacrificed by the coven in a secluded wood remains agonizingly steady, wringing every drop of horror from the author's carefully drawn plot in this fantasy set in modern times.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 5-8. Horowitz, fresh off his success with his Alex Rider series, ratchets things up a notch with the first in the Gatekeepers series about five young people who must save the world from evil. A master of edge-of-your-seat writing, Horowitz gives himself lots of opportunity to push the envelope here. He focuses on 14-year-old Matt, a troubled orphan who is in with the wrong crowd. As punishment for being present during an assault, Matt must choose between life with off-putting Mrs. Deverill in a remote Yorkshire village, or jail. As Matt soon learns, Lesser Malling is much worse than jail, because strange and dangerous things are occurring there. Raven's Gate, an ancient portal to the world of evil, is about to be opened, and Matt is to be the blood sacrifice. Novels about boys (and girls) facing dark forces are nothing new, and this one certainly contains elements of familiar stories (Hello, Harry Potter). But the real-world setting gives this an extra frisson of horror, and Horowitz's vivid descriptions are not for the fainthearted. It's what's inside all the thrills, however, that makes the book so strong: characters that readers will care about and root for. There will be an eager audience for the next in the series, to be titled Evil Star. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2005 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(Intermediate, Middle School) Beginning in a grimy warehouse with a robbery gone terribly wrong, this first volume in the new Gatekeepers series -- a creepy mix of modern technology and ancient superstition -- starts fast and then accelerates. In rapid succession, fourteen-year-old Matthew Freeman -- the would-be burglar -- is arrested, sentenced, and handed over to an experimental program in the remote Yorkshire countryside and into the custody of the sinister Mrs. Deverill. Prebble reads with slow, dramatic flair, slipping effortlessly into each of the characters -- from the slurred voice of Matthew's sullen aunt Gwenda to the cultured calm of Detective Superintendent Mallory -- and giving equal weight to the mucky details of farm life and the disorienting flashes that increasingly invade ordinary reality. Listeners will find themselves spellbound, as unable to escape the inexorable pull of this alternative world as Matt himself. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Book Review
This first in a projected series by the author of the Alex Rider books has it all--mystery, suspense, conspiracies, occult elements and science gone amuck--and instead of becoming a novelistic mish-mash, it all works. Rejected by his only living relative, betrayed to the police by a supposed friend, Matt Freeman chooses to serve a probationary sentence on an English farm near York rather than in a juvenile detention center. Shortly after he arrives at Hive Hill--the farm owned by his sinister guardian--a thoroughly terrified Matt discovers that he can't escape either the farm or the mysterious destiny facing him. In this page-turner, Horowitz constantly jacks up the tension, ricocheting from catastrophe to disaster and violently killing off any adults who try to help Matt. Many of the 20 chapters end in cliffhangers, while the spectacular climax and surprising conclusion provide both a satisfying ending and a good set-up for the next in the series. Go. Visit. Have an exhilarating read. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.