'The Path Keeper' Review
The young adult fiction section is currently going through a state of boom. Never before have we had so much to choose from in this area. This can make it difficult to find a story that stands out, that has potential. Luckily, I’ve managed to discover one that could be the next big thing in the fantasy world.
The Path Keeper is written by NJ Simmonds, an author previously signed by Accent Press who is looking to relaunch the series, including Son of Secrets - the sequel to this novel.
This book centres around the concept of fate, and how we are unknowingly pushed into decisions throughout life.
You could also be reading The Path Keeper and sipping on hot tea and lemon! The link to purchase the book is here
Weaved amongst this is a tale of a forbidden love, with the two main characters struggling to maintain a relationship amongst a range of issues. From family problems, to something a little more supernatural. The lore behind the novel is also an intriguing one, taking inspiration from biblical routes, with a twist. The protagonist, Ella, looks for an escape from her high-profile life and finds it in the mysterious character, Zac. The two share an intense bond, something that affects many of the events in the book.
The Path Keeper is set right here in London. Now, having lived in the big city for nearly six months, I can safely attest that one becomes familiar with certain quirks of it. The different neighbourhoods, the odd dialects, the quirky personalities that inhabit this metropolis. It’s hard to truly capture all of this in writing, especially in a complex narrative. The Path Keeper speaks the language of the big smoke. As an example, Chapter 4 discusses the borough of Camden, and anyone who has visited this area will know that this analysis is completely spot on.
“...the North London suburb was a Mecca for every hippy and punk wannabe. Eager teenagers spent the day with just ten pounds in their pocket looking for cheap silver jewellery or forbidden tattoos with enough change to get a kebab for their journey home.” - The Path Keeper, Chapter 4, page 25
I actually found it hard to cut down this whole section for this post, as I loved it so much.
The lady behind it all, NJ Simmonds. You can learn more about her work on here website, where there are also a few last editions of signed copies of The Path Keeper!
There are other details that have clearly been checked and verified, such as the number of stops from one tube station to another, or the specific bus to take in various neighbourhoods. Perhaps it sounds petty, but previous books I have read mostly keep descriptions such as these vague. These intricate sentences show an understanding of the identity of the setting of the book, highlighting Simmonds own personal background as a Londoner. It’s a skill that I think is lacking from much modern fiction, and sets the author apart from the field.
Ella is what I would call a love/hate character. Although she has a brazen nature and sharp tongue that I’m fond of, her upper-class background is sometimes painstakingly obvious in her behaviour. She can appear spoilt and a little self-absorbed, but this is something that I like. So often in YA fiction we are presented with the classic ‘Mary-Sue’ character, perfect and likeable. But that is not what people are like. People are flawed, and Ella reflects this.
Her rash behaviour also leads to complications in the book, which causes tension with Zac. Whilst he is a fiercely protective and deeply caring individual, his overly-cautious and secretive nature clashes with Ella. Their dynamic leads to heart-wrenching moments in the story, many of which led to me tearing my hair out yelling, “JUST TALK IT OUT GUYS. SAVE YOUR PAIN.”
If my word isn't good enough for you (Why isn't it? Why?) then check out the reviews over on Goodreads
Without spoiling too much of the plot, the author also manages to transport the audience back to a vintage time effectively, showing stark differences in the culture of the past to now. Simmonds also managed to portray the horrors of war from a civilian perspective, which was at times harrowing to read.
This tale is one of mystery, leaving you grappling for information. Throughout I was second-guessing what everything meant, and even after finishing I’m still left with so many questions. Questions I’m hoping will eventually be answered by the sequel, Son of Secrets. Because this series is currently without a publisher we have all been left on tenterhooks regarding the release date of book two - but we’re hoping it will be some time in late 2018 or early 2019.
Overall, this book has set up a solid foundation for a future series, and I’m exciting to see where the author plans to take this story. Simmonds has a unique style of writing, and is a breath of fresh air in the young adult market.