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The Pomegranate Gate by Ariel Kaplan – Fantasy Book Review

Updated: Jul 14, 2023


The UK cover of The Pomegranate Gate
The Pomegranate Gate

Thank you so much to Solaris & Netgalley for my eArc copy, which I received in exchange for an honest review.


The Pomegranate Gate is Dryad Book Box's featured book for July! You can find more information here.


 

When I started reading The Pomegranate Gate, I had some reservations. Historical fantasy can be very hit or miss for me, and with so many POV characters, I was concerned the complex plot would come across as disjointed and confusing. My fears were totally unfounded. While the first few chapters were slightly puzzling — which is true of most epic fantasy, where it takes a reader a moment to find their feet — the promise of answers and the cast of loveable characters kept me engaged. I adore Toba with all my heart, and her interactions with Barsilay often made me laugh out loud. I found Naftaly to be the most relatable; I know you’re not meant to quote ARCS, but these lines cemented his character for me; “Naftaly […] never felt a desire to change diapers or have a house of his own: somehow, even his eyes had never been able to see that far. What he wanted was simpler: to be useful, to anyone.” And don’t even get me started on ‘the old woman’! (in true folktale fashion, we don’t ever discover her name). If the next book I read doesn’t feature a hero with a grumpy, sarcastic, old woman following them around and pulling them out of trouble, I don’t want it! The Pomegranate Gate is not a retelling, but folktales clearly inspired the novel. There are moments that seem oddly familiar, almost nostalgic, and yet totally unique in the same instance — a surefire sign of a talented storyteller. And, while I’m gushing, let’s talk about the plot. I’m in total awe of Kaplan’s ability to weave such an intricate, detailed narrative. The Pomegranate Gate is as much a mosaic as it is an epic fantasy; drops of information are shared in one character’s POV, and only later do we discover it was foreshadowing a plot point in another character’s journey. When all the 'tiles' begin to click together, it’s incredibly satisfying. Yet, by the end of the novel, there are still more pieces to uncover. The next instalment can't come soon enough. The Pomegranate Gate is a truly fantastic start to this new historical, portal fantasy series, and I would recommend it to anyone that enjoyed The Priory of The Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty and The Wolf & The Woodsman by Ava Reid.


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