Beyond the Black Door: ARC Review

Though filled with a variety of important representations and intriguing ideas, the execution was hampered by a slow and clunky writing style.
Rating: 3 stars

This ARC was provided to me by the publisher at my request. All thoughts and opinions expressed are completely my own and not influenced in any way.

Through the Black Door
Author: A. M. Strickland
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: October 29th, 2019
Synopsis: Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen…

Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.

But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.

When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.

A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom …

Through the Black Door by A.M. Strickland is an intimate look at a young person exploring their identity against the back drop of court intrigue and a complex world. While I enjoyed seeing another book with a main and side characters with perspectives that were different from my own, I could not help but feel weighed down by the writing style.

Having read previous works by Strickland (Shadow Run, look it up and READ IT! Fantastic and underappreciated YA Sci Fi!), I was incredibly excited to read this new fantasy offering from them. Unfortunately, the writing style did not work for me and that took away a lot from my otherwise enjoyment of this story. A majority of the story is the internal monologue of the main character and that dragged down the pacing for me a lot. Its hard for me because the more I think about this book, a lot of it is introspective and about the MC figuring herself out, but my reading preferences lean more towards dialogue and action. Or at least introspection that flows a little faster. There are chunks of chapters that are big, blocky paragraphs with nothing to break them up and nothing slows down a read more, in my opinion. This was a highly anticipated ARC for me, and it took me nearly two months to finish, even though I typically have a strict “finish ARCs before release date” rule.

I will admit that when I started reading more into the book, I was confused about how there would be romance in a novel with an asexual MC, but I saw the author clarify that there is a difference between asexual and aromantic…which I did not know. This led to me reading more about what these differences are, and I learned a lot. I really appreciate books that show me something new and expose me to ways of life that I was not knowledgeable in. Books like this are so damn important and I want to see MORE OF THEM!

The world building was lush, though a bit confusing at times. I could never get a really good idea in my head of what the world or the people in it should look like. The concept of nehyms (souls) and soulwalking was very interesting, but it wasn’t enough to carry the entire book for me.

I think because of my annoyance with the constant internal monologuing, I wasn’t able to really connect with Kamai. I feel that her internal struggle will speak to a lot of people who are in the process of figuring themselves out and I appreciate her as a character for that. I never got any in-depth feelings for any of the other characters in the book, except Nikha (who I basically wanted to hug the whole time). There was just a lack of chemistry for me.

Through the Black Door is going to be an important book for a lot of readers out there. And while it is the type of story we need to see more of, I wish I had been able to mesh with the writing more.

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Hi there! I'm Kibby, a 30ish year old book devourer, living in Northern California! When not reading I am writing about demon hunters, rewatching Great British Bake Off and Doctor Who too much, and lamenting over the lack of appreciation for Rogue One. I am also a #bookstagrammer under the IG handle of somethingofthebook.

3 thoughts on “Beyond the Black Door: ARC Review

  1. Great review, Kibby! I’m sorry this one didn’t live up to your expectations though. Pages full of chunky paragraphs with nothing to break them up sounds not only intimidating but a little boring and it’s definitely not my favorite style of writing either! I have a feeling I would struggle with that, especially if the pacing is slow too. I really like the concept of this book though — seems like a unique-ish premise, so I’m still looking forward to checking it out but I’ll keep my expectations managed 🙂


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