Saturday, 5 October 2013

Book Review: Max and the Gatekeeper by James Todd Cochrane

A war has been waging for centuries; a magical and technological battle between good and evil. This conflict will affect life everywhere, but not everyone is aware it exists. When twelve-year old Max Rigdon is sent to stay with his grandfather for the summer, he unwillingly enters the fight. The day Max steps off the bus he is marked with an evil curse and immediately becomes the target of evil men and creatures with designs on ruling the universe. Not only does this curse cause Max physical pain but it allows his enemies to track and find him. He soon learns that the reason for this unwanted attention is because his grandfather is the keeper of a gateway; a powerful machine that makes travel to hundreds of strange unknown worlds possible. The enemy will do anything to gain possession of this power in their quest to control all worlds. With the help of his friend Cindy and others, Max must quickly learn the necessary skills to survive if he is to avoid the deadly trap that has been planned for him and his grandfather. A trap that has been decades in the making with Max as the missing piece. If successful it will change life as we know it.

My review:
*I received a free copy of this book from the author through Shut up and Read in exchange for an honest review*

Max doesn't want to spend the summer with Grandpa Joe, especially when there are are creepy chanting people and bullies with magic powers. But he needs to learn his destiny, safeguarding a gateway to other worlds, and stopping evil enemies from taking control of it. With Grandpa's friends and Cindy, his only friend, Max is mixed up in magic, danger and adventure.

This was a really enjoyable, easy to read adventure for all ages. There are evil people from several galaxies who want to kill the rest of Max's family to gain control of the gateway, and only a few people are standing against them. Max and Cindy have to learn magic to help keep themselves alive as they help to stop their enemies. There are several trips to other worlds in a Stargate style plot, meeting new races and animals. There are magical battles and life or death dramas. It keeps moving along at a good pace, with the author putting the characters into lots of dangerous situations to entertain the readers.

I liked the characters in the book. Grandpa Joe is a very cool guy and I liked the fact that our hero was a pensioner! It makes a nice change to have a bit of diversity. Max and Cindy are good kids and I liked their growing relationship which includes that awkward is she just my friend or does she LIKE me like that situation. It's a fun innocent puppy love subplot which is cute because we can all remember that first childhood crush! I liked the different people that Max meets on his travels and I really liked Ell! The bad guys were entertaining pantomime villans who you wanted to yell 'boo, hiss!' at every time they appeared, especially Alan!

There was a nice twist towards the end which I did guess a bit earlier. I think it might have been a subtle hint left by the author in a bit of dialogue, as I spotted this and thought, 'hmmm!'. But guessing the twist did not spoil the reveal at all, it just made me go 'Ha I was RIGHT!' which is quite satisfying!

This is a book that will appeal to anyone who enjoys fantasy, magical adventures, and a good fast moving plot. There is one bit of dialogue where a pile of swear words is implied but not written, but other than that it is suitable for all ages. I'd certainly like to read the rest of this series.
star rating photo: Four Star Rating 4stars.png


  1. I haven't seen this before, but I do like the fantasy adventure type books. :) Great review.

    1. It was a good fast read. Glad I decided to review it!

  2. Good review! It sounds like an entertaining fantasy, though I could wish the villains were a little less one-dimensional.