The Dreamhouse Kings Series is a difficult one to evaluate in pieces. Each installment in the series is a brief snapshot, a single puzzle piece in an overarching design that can’t yet be glimpsed. The books read like a single novel, picking up without pause where the last title left off. Gatekeepers even includes a STOP warning before picking up the storyline, and Liparulo insists that readers pick up the first two books, House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods before continuing with Gatekeepers. This isn’t a marketing ploy; you truly can’t jump in at any point with this series. Likewise, this review may seem incomplete if you haven’t read the first two reviews or novels (links above).
As the King family continues in their mission to rescue their mother from the worlds beyond the mysterious portals in their new home, answers to their many questions about the house begin to unfold. The appearance of a long lost family member with ties to the origins of their home brings with him the promise of answers to their many questions. However, the intense pace of the story, along with the challenges that continually present themselves limit the amount of time available to share this knowledge. It seems that the King children – Xander, David and Toria – have inherited a great family responsibility and destiny, though its full extent has yet to be revealed. The bonds and love between the family members receive further development at the hands of Liparulo, displaying strong loyalties and clear priorities amongst the Kings.
Several new characters are introduced and folded smoothly into the storyline, each providing vital insight into the operation of the worlds connected to the house. Taksidian continues to menace the King family, escalating the intensity of his attacks as he seeks to regain control of the house. The most intriguing elements of time travel, historic alteration and future history are introduced – this is getting good!
The high-action adventures in the past paired with the attack from dark forces kept me on edge; my heart thudding away at a pleasantly accelerated rate. I can only imagine the level of excitement the series young readers will experience. The spiral downwards into darkness seems to be on the reverse as Ed King, father of the family, realizes how his deception has led his family into dangerous waters. After my strong concern for this Christian family’s spiritual welfare in Watcher in the Woods, we can now start to see the light of hope for their family in Gatekeepers.
I’m wondering how much longer Liparulo will leave us dangling with cliffhanger endings? The anticipation for each new novel is intense – if you haven’t started the series yet, you may want to spare yourself the agony of waiting and catch the series once it’s complete. You’ll have to clear your schedule – the roller coaster thrill rides sucks you in and won’t let go until you close the book. I’ve read each of them in one sitting.
If you weren’t a professed addict to the series before reading this third installment, you will be by book's end. Gatekeepers is the best in the series to date. I’m already itchy with anticipation for Timescape, releasing in July 2009 from Thomas Nelson. My eleven-year-old brother can’t wait to get his hands on my copy; this is understandable, as the series is written for young adults — ahem! — but that doesn’t stop us adults from reading them.