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Lori M. Lee Offers Magic in Dystopia in Her Debut Novel “Gates of Thread and Stone”

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 7 years ago

Written by: Lori M. Lee.
Publisher: Skyscape (a teen and YA publishing arm of Amazon).
Release Date: August 5th 2014.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult.

In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In her debut novel Gates of Thread and Stone by Spyscape, Lori M. Lee weaves magic, secrets and a touch of the dystopian together in a complex world of adventure.

The story centres on Kai, a young woman gifted with the ability to manipulate the threads of time. However, living in the Labyrinth, a city of “walls and secrets,” Kai must keep her abilities under wraps, as  in her world only one man is said to have magic. She doesn’t remember anything from before the time she was eight years old, and was found by her “brother” Reev. All that matters to Kai is that she and Reev must stick together. But one day Reeve goes missing, and together with her only friend Avan, Kai sets out into the world, leaving behind everything she knows in order to search for him. She soon finds herself in the middle of a revolution and comes to learn more about her powers and her past.

The world Lori M. Lee has created is an intriguing one, with a strong dystopian vibe and some magic thrown in. The author introduces several interesting concepts where people use shipping containers as homes and a mention of metal grays (basically metal horses) that were used for transportation. There is an interesting mix of advanced technology paired with absolute poverty. While some aspects of this colourful world are mapped out in great detail, there’s still space for more on the history of how things came to a post-apocalyptic setting and just who/what the mysterious Infinite and Mahjo are.

Kai’s ability to manipulate time was one of the most engaging aspects of Lee’s first novel. Unlike most typical time stories where a person can freeze time at will, Kai can slow time – but only for brief periods before snapping back into real time. It was a little disappointing that this book didn’t feature any actual time travel, but perhaps it’s something that may feature in later installments.

Of the characters presented, Avan and his odd background, and whose promiscuity was never really confirmed or denied, is perhaps the most interesting. By comparison, our protagonist Kai falls a little flat. Her courage and determination to find Reev are admirable, but on occasion feel a little over the top. It’s perhaps no surprise Avan comes to question if she has room for anyone else in a heart that seems a little overly obsessed with Reev.

Additionally, the romance between Kai and Avan feels a little underdeveloped, with Kai demonstrating an immediate girlish response to Avan’s touch from day one. It might have been interesting to see that relationship flourish and grow over time, rather play out as straightforward lust on both sides from the beginning.

The characters of Mason and the “hollows” at Irra’s complex served as bright character spots, addingcolour and depth where needed. Hopefully the second book will offer more these characters and their purpose.

The final pages offered little in the way of a freshness, pulling off a typical Young Adult final chapter that served to flip things on their head. Overall this book fell a little short of  expectations but was still an enjoyable read. With so many ideas crammed into this first novel, there’s still much to expand on in future sequels.

The second book “The Infinite” is expected March 10th, 2015.


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