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Beyond the Black Door

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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, 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 ...


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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, 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 ...

30 review for Beyond the Black Door

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    As soon as I read the blurb and saw the amazing cover, I clicked to request and when I saw it on my dashboard, I thanked my lucky stars and wore my dancing shoes to perform a scene from singing in the rain but I forgot I was living in LA and it rarely rains here but I kept on dancing! I think I created to shine the dark objects and show its beauty by sharing my long and appreciative sentences. When it comes something dark, twisty, edgy, my ascendant sign Scorpio takes the front seat to drive me As soon as I read the blurb and saw the amazing cover, I clicked to request and when I saw it on my dashboard, I thanked my lucky stars and wore my dancing shoes to perform a scene from singing in the rain but I forgot I was living in LA and it rarely rains here but I kept on dancing! I think I created to shine the dark objects and show its beauty by sharing my long and appreciative sentences. When it comes something dark, twisty, edgy, my ascendant sign Scorpio takes the front seat to drive me to the dark side of the moon because I really entertain too much of disturbing, nerve bending stories instead of showing some frustration or nervous reaction! But you know the feeling you get too excited about something but it may drive you up the wall with disappointment because you didn’t get what you highly expected! This is what happened to me after reading this book. I had some questions on my mind about queer rep because the characters seemed like developed a little haphazardly, artificially. It gave me the feeling the author wanted to take the attention of the readers by choosing an asexual heroine ( which had also grabbed my attention to read this book because I wanted to see attributes, characteristic virtues and I was curious how the author reflected the POV of character’s own sexuality and interaction with others) but it seemed like the author didn’t study her lesson well before writing this story and the situations, relationship dynamics between her characters which were a little dull, flat and awkward for me to digest it properly. It reminded me of high school plays with low budget production (or no budget) Mythological part was nice touch and I wanted to read more about those parts captured my all attention and maybe I gave my all points to those parts but it didn’t save the whole development. The relationship dynamics and description, back stories of characters didn’t work for me! I understood the reasoning behind them but I still have my own confusions. I liked to read diversity stories which gives me more hope and joy to see people in our modern world learn to respect each other’s differences and respect their bravery because we have every right to choose who we are and everybody should be more moderate and supportive each other’s free expressions and opinions. Maybe this story didn’t work for me but I’m hopeful I’m gonna read much better ones because too many brilliant debut authors are about to release their new works. And I know I will find my best diverse fantasy book sooner than I expected. I already purchased Gideon the Ninth and so excited to devour it with one bite (actually it will take more bites because this book is also too long but slow burn fantasy stories always fit well with me, I have enough bottles of Chardonnay to enjoy myself!) Special thanks to NetGalley and Imprint for sharing me this ARC COPY in exchange my honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    Please do not let my 3 star rating dissuade you from picking up this book, because Beyond the Black Door has a multitude of remarkable aspects going for it. The atmosphere is dreamy and lush, and honestly Strickland is a knockout at creating a setting that comes to life. Could get lost in her dreamy world 10/10 times. My issues were personal, not objective, and lie within the author's choice to do more "telling than showing" when it comes to the world-building and initial story setup. The plot Please do not let my 3 star rating dissuade you from picking up this book, because Beyond the Black Door has a multitude of remarkable aspects going for it. The atmosphere is dreamy and lush, and honestly Strickland is a knockout at creating a setting that comes to life. Could get lost in her dreamy world 10/10 times. My issues were personal, not objective, and lie within the author's choice to do more "telling than showing" when it comes to the world-building and initial story setup. The plot is unique and riveting, and I think the representation here is SO important, which makes me so grateful that the author chose to put pen to paper and create visibility for a part of the queer spectrum that is still heavily overshadowed. If you are looking for a fantasy that is equal parts gentle intimacy and powerful self discovery, please give Beyond the Black Door a chance this fall. *Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy via NetGalley.

  3. 4 out of 5

    AdriAnne

    Hey all! Now that the cover is out in the wild, I figured I’d share a bit more insider-info about BEYOND THE BLACK DOOR. This is a YA dark fantasy with court intrigue, assassinations, fancy dresses, twisty romance, evil love interests, a fair bit of blood, and cool stuff like bottomless staircases in endless dark castles. It should appeal to fans of Beauty and the Beast retellings (though it’s not a retelling, itself), Phantom of the Opera, and Labyrinth. Also, there are lots of queer Hey all! Now that the cover is out in the wild, I figured I’d share a bit more insider-info about BEYOND THE BLACK DOOR. This is a YA dark fantasy with court intrigue, assassinations, fancy dresses, twisty romance, evil love interests, a fair bit of blood, and cool stuff like bottomless staircases in endless dark castles. It should appeal to fans of Beauty and the Beast retellings (though it’s not a retelling, itself), Phantom of the Opera, and Labyrinth. Also, there are lots of queer characters: a demi-biromantic asexual main character, an ace love interest, and ace/trans and gay side characters. Also, it has specifically ace romance. Since this book is fairly dark and twisted, it may come as no surprise that there are some content warnings that come with it (also, here is your warning for the mild spoilers that may follow): CWs regarding the queer content: -Some internalized acephobia that the MC works through (specifically that she’s not “normal”), but that is resolved on the page -The asexual MC forces herself into a sexual situation because she thinks she has to (she stops it before it goes very far, but still, it’s there) -Not a forced outing of the MC as ace, per se, but she is put on the spot for sure before she comes out (though it’s a relief for her after, if that helps) -Some misgendering of a trans character who hasn’t yet switched pronouns and is working to get to that point (more on that choice here: https://twitter.com/AdriAnneMS/status...) CWs regarding emotional or physical violence/harm: -Emotionally abusive/manipulative romantic relationships (though the emotional abuse/manipulation is in most cases called out) -Attempted self-harm/suicide (a “noble sacrifice” attempt that fails with no physical harm done, but again, it’s there) -Lots o’ physical violence in general—people getting stabbed to death, kidnapped, hit, etc. -Birth control manipulation of a partner (neither party being the MC) that results in a pregnancy If this strikes you as too much, I understand; it’s not going to be for everyone. I essentially wrote this book for my 16-year-old self. I sought out dark-and-twisty content as a teen, especially with dark-and-twisty relationships, and it would have been great if some of that stuff addressed the issues I was going through. BTBD is what I wish I had then. So, despite all the content warnings, I hope the book helps, not hurts—or at least entertains!—but first and foremost, please take care of yourselves.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cassie

    Netgalley just came through with approving me for an ARC of this, idk what kind of book gods are looking upon me but regardless, thank you book gods!!! ---------------------------------- A main character who is asexual? Set in a fantasy world?? With a stunning cover like THAT???? *breaks down door* Who do I have to bribe to get my hands on a copy of this?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tucker

    This (ʘ‿ʘ) (ʘ‿ʘ) Cover Is (ʘ‿ʘ) (ʘ‿ʘ) Everything | Goodreads | Blog | Twitch | Pinterest | Buy this book

  6. 5 out of 5

    ʙᴇʟʟᴀ.: ☾**:.☆*.:。.

    ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!) Beyond the Black Door follows Kamai, a Soulwalker that can enter people's souls or Nehyn, a representation of one's soul. Every time Kamai visits someone's Nehyn there's a Black Door that follows her. Kamai's mother is hiding secrets and tells her never, never to open that door. However, like a good old fairytale, circumstances lead the heroine to open it. What's beyond the Black Door? Kamai will find out. I ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!) Beyond the Black Door follows Kamai, a Soulwalker that can enter people's souls or Nehyn, a representation of one's soul. Every time Kamai visits someone's Nehyn there's a Black Door that follows her. Kamai's mother is hiding secrets and tells her never, never to open that door. However, like a good old fairytale, circumstances lead the heroine to open it. What's beyond the Black Door? Kamai will find out. I must say I'm impressed. The author built an intricate world with beautiful mythology and imagery. I enjoyed very much learning about the culture, rules, and classes, the worldbuilding was quite compelling. I thought the asexual protagonist (which falls into the grey area of assexuality?) and the LGBTI representation was well done. This is perhaps the very first YA Fantasy where I feel that LGBTI rep is not underwhelming and that is instead, fair and inclusive. This book was unique in everything I've ever read. Nowadays, we find a lot of hypersexualized YA, so having an ace protagonist was so refreshing. There are all kinds of people in the world and all of them should have their representation in fiction as well. It is important to acknowledge all sexual orientations. I loved the way the author introduced the theme in the plot, and actually having the characters discussing it. The characters, all of them I found really interesting. Kamai our heroine, I could relate to her so much. However, no matter how much I enjoyed Vehyn, (and I very much did) I must say that(view spoiler)[ his relationship with Kamai was anything but healthy. Vehyn is a villain no matter what perspective we see him. However, he is a fantastic character, complex, attractive and mysterious (But I do not ship him with Kamai, it's a big no). (hide spoiler)] About the supporting characters, I pretty much loved every single one of them and I loved to hate the villains. Kamai's mother was amazing. Kamai's father was also amazing as a character because he makes you feel so conflicted about how to feel about him. Lenara, Nikha, and Zeniri were an amazing trio. And Razim...Razim took me by surprise because I ended up loving him so much that I kept wishing he had more screentime. I loved how much these characters made me connect to them. The twists kept me hooked, there was never a dull moment in this book and if I had to describe it I would say it in three words: Dark, hopeful and bittersweet. It is a dark book but it also carries a meaningful message in other aspects. If you enjoy Dark fantasy YA, villain as love interest trope, and very unique characters than you should definitely enjoy this. And look at that wonderful cover, it is so aesthetic! TW: Violence, Death, toxic relationship, Attempted suicide. Also, TW for people with trypophobia.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Candace Robinson

    I loved the dark and twisty elements but I just couldn’t connect to the story or the characters. It had diversity and interesting things but I just wanted something more from the characters I guess. But if you’re looking for unique concepts then you might want to check this one out!

  8. 5 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    Dark fantasy. Morally grey, Slytherin characters. Court intrigue. #Ownvoices ace rep. Soulwalking. Phantom of the Opera atmosphere. Fancy dresses. Endless castles. Is there any doubt why I was intrigued by Beyond a Black Door? “I simply adore the delicate way you put things. How you cover the truth in softness to make it less sharp. Rose blossoms over thorns.” From the very first page, I found myself transported into Kamai’s world. The idea of soulwalking and this haunting, forbidden Black Door Dark fantasy. Morally grey, Slytherin characters. Court intrigue. #Ownvoices ace rep. Soulwalking. Phantom of the Opera atmosphere. Fancy dresses. Endless castles. Is there any doubt why I was intrigued by Beyond a Black Door? “I simply adore the delicate way you put things. How you cover the truth in softness to make it less sharp. Rose blossoms over thorns.” From the very first page, I found myself transported into Kamai’s world. The idea of soulwalking and this haunting, forbidden Black Door full of possibilities was beguiling. I was drawn in instantly but as the story progressed, the plot meandered and so did my interest. There was no end goal in sight. We were plagued with repetitive conversations and inner dialogue that achieved nothing. There was something about this world that never made it feel real. I don’t know whether it was the promise of court intrigue that failed to deliver but the scale was off. To explain in the vaguest of terms, the only way you can raise the stakes so high is to convince us of the consequences. We need to know about this world, its people and the politics to understand the scope of the damage that could be caused by this Big Bad Thing. If you have that, you give us a sense of urgency to prevent this Thing from happening. Without it, you give us a shallow, underdeveloped villain with shaky motivations and no stakes. Strickland didn’t capture that looming dread for me. I could barely envision the size of the secret societies, let alone how they operated or what threat they truly posed. It really affected my investment. It properly shocked me, though! I never knew what was going to come next, which I say with an abnormal amount of enthusiasm because my brain has zero chill and always guesses the ending. Always. I also loved the world-building. While I wanted more from certain aspects, the way that everything tied together through this world’s religion was brilliant. It added so much detail and little moments that helped develop my understanding of the characters. And there was something so damn beautiful about it? I would love a Language of Thorns-style book about it. I think Strickland’s writing would work wonders for that. Also, the characters. I loved Kamai and Kihan and Zereni, simple and plain as that. Their banter & friendships absolutely made this story for me. … but the romance was Yikes. Oh boy. When I first heard villain romance, I came running but as the story progressed, I kind of assumed Kihan was going to be the love interest and forgot about it. I shouldn’t have because I was not prepared for what was delivered. Here’s the thing, for me ‘villian romance’ does not equal romanticised abuse. I know there are people out there who legitimately ship Alina x the Darkling but I’m not here for that dynamic. At all. I enjoy reading about villains, sure, but I don’t enjoy reading about abusive, creepy men grooming a child… so I’ll leave it at that. I genuinely thought Kihan was going to be the love interest and I was a tad hesitant about that even. Kamai is a month or so underage when they met and Kihan is her bodyguard but I would much prefer to read about that kind of ‘taboo’ romance. However, all of that was mostly saved by way Strickland tackled sexuality and gender. It was difficult to read about characters working through their internalised acemisia for sure but it was wonderfully done. The emphasis placed on allowing yourself the time to come out to yourself and the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive people was impeccable. “I raised my chin, refusing to feel ashamed… acknowledgement and support had already changed something within me. I felt stronger, lighter… brighter. Like a new moon floating in the sky, cloaked in secretive darkness, but with a glowing core. Not empty. Not broken. Whole and wholly myself.” I have never read about a trans character who purposefully uses incorrect pronouns because they are not ready to come out yet. It was difficult to see Kihan being misgendered but I also believe it is incredibly important to have different experiences and all walks of life represented. A.M. Strickland talked more about their decision to write Kihan’s journey this way in a Twitter thread. There is something about Strickland’s writing that felt like being read a fairytale. She made it feel like Kamai’s journey was now a legend being retold as a bedtime story. It created this lush, magical atmosphere cloaked with an irresistible eeriness… but it also disconnected me from the characters. I never felt like I was living the story alongside Kamai. I found myself upsettingly disengaged. Overall? There were aspects of Beyond the Black Door that I adored and aspects I rather disliked. The entire book played a tug-of-war with my emotions. I was put off by the writing style and the romance almost got to me, but it was ultimately the characters and the ornate world-building that made me adore it so. If you’re looking for a queer fantasy this spooky season, look no further. “Steel in someone’s hand can be used for good or ill; it is not for the blacksmith to decide. He creates the weapon, not what is done with it” ➸ Trigger warnings for (view spoiler)[ableist language, internalised acemisia (central theme), transmisia, queermisia, misgendering, misogyny, sex worker shaming, sexual harassment, sex work & underaged sex work discussed, emotional abuse, cheating, anxiety attack, nightmares, suicide attempt, suicide & self-immolation discussed, alcohol consumption, drugging w/o consent, pregnancy due to partner’s manipulation of birth control w/o consent, blood depiction, grief depiction, death of a mother (op), death of a stepfather, murder, attempted murder, stabbing, knife violence, strangulation, kidnapping, fire, and imprisonment mentioned. (hide spoiler)] . ▷ Representation: Kamai (mc) is demi-biromantic & ace; Vehyn (li) is ace; Kalin (sc) is trans & ace; Zereni (sc) is gay & poc; Hallan & Razim (scs) are poc; queer & poc scs. ◯ Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Please note that this review uses quotes taken from an uncorrected proof copy subject to change. Blog • Twitter • Instagram • The Book Depository

  9. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Annie Deo Do you like dark fantasy? Did you watch Labyrinth and wish that the Goblin King would romantically sweep you around a ballroom? Are you one of the Phantom of the Opera fans that think Christine made a mistake and should’ve chosen Erik? Fascinated by the myth of Hades and Persephone? Well, here’s the perfect book for you! First you may want to check out the content warnings posted by the author if you have any potential triggers—I always Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Annie Deo Do you like dark fantasy? Did you watch Labyrinth and wish that the Goblin King would romantically sweep you around a ballroom? Are you one of the Phantom of the Opera fans that think Christine made a mistake and should’ve chosen Erik? Fascinated by the myth of Hades and Persephone? Well, here’s the perfect book for you! First you may want to check out the content warnings posted by the author if you have any potential triggers—I always appreciate when authors look out for their readers like this and allow the audience to make an informed decision before starting a book. While the warning about emotionally abusive/manipulative romantic relationships may cause some readers to reconsider, this was actually what convinced me the book would do justice to the central romance. There’s nothing worse than a defanged villain, because why even bother with a villain/heroine romance if it’s going to play out the same way as a sweet fluffy friends-to-lovers romance? If the love interest is a bad guy, it SHOULD be dark and questionable and manipulative to the max! Conversely, supposedly sweet romances that have toxic underpinnings and are unintentionally problematic cause a whole lot of frustration with the mixed messages and lack of awareness at the abusive nature of the relationships portrayed. But Beyond The Black Door is upfront and self-aware about its characters and romance, which is brilliant! Our protagonist Kamai is a young woman with the rare ability to soul-walk, a skill that she shares with her mother and develops in secret as it’s considered highly dangerous and therefore illegal unless one is a priest or priestess. Kamai is capable of exploring other people’s souls which always take the form of a house of some sort, ranging from simple shacks to elaborate palaces. While the visual depiction of each person’s soul house or nehym differs from person to person, the one constant is the mysterious black door that follows her around, always lurking somewhere in every nehym, waiting for her to stumble upon it. Since her mother’s main rule was to forbid Kamai from ever opening that door, it’s obviously an enormously enticing challenge to stay away from it! The mystery of the black door, what it represents, and the seductive being within develops alongside great personal strife and upheaval in Kamai’s life as she arrives in the capital to be presented at the royal court. On one hand, she faces Vehyn who is a mesmerising and aggressively magnetic influence who reels her in against all common sense; on the other, Kamai contends with a complicated web of conspiracies, secret guilds and political intrigue. At times Kamai is frustratingly naive and reckless, and many readers will no doubt despair at her continuing to make poor choices. But well, teenagers aren’t known for having the best judgement and given the circumstances under which she is left adrift without proper guidance or support, it’s somewhat understandable that she gets herself into one scrape after another! The pacing felt slow off the mark, for instance Vehyn wasn’t introduced until about a quarter of the way through despite being a major character and driving force of the novel! For those who appreciate a good mystery, the tantalising lead-up to his entrance won’t dampen their enthusiasm, but readers like myself who are looking forward to the main romantic pairing interacting with each other may be tempted to skim past some of the early set-up chapters. There is quite a bit of exposition to sit through as we’re introduced to the religious beliefs that govern Kamai’s society; while fascinating, it felt like a lecture at times, often because Kamai was parroting back information that she had been taught for our benefit. However once the pieces were in place and the larger picture of this world assembled, I appreciated the rich mythology created by the author with gods based on the sun, moon, and the earth. Instead of just naming them for these elements and calling it a day, there is effort put into the more intricate details. For example, to show how aspects of each deity might influence the way people behave, pious women cover their head with a scarf to pay respect to Heshara, the moon goddess who hides her face during the day. Then there’s the employment they seek—the Solar Arts governed by the sun god Tain include finance, law, medicine and other intellectual occupations. The world-building was very imaginative and fun to think about with the mythology being incorporated in different unexpected ways. Now to the most important and celebrated part of the book – the LGBT+ representation! The blurb states that Kamai’s asexuality is a central theme and it’s developed wonderfully here. Asexuality isn’t widely known or understood in our society, and while it’s starting to be explored in YA books, this is the first time I’ve encountered a central ace protagonist in speculative fiction who is experiencing a coming-of-age storyline, and even better, one that involves romantic attraction! People who have some idea of what it means to be asexual will often picture Sherlock Holmes or Sheldon Cooper, arrogant aloof characters who shun human contact and feel superior to their fellows. It’s usually a surprise to realise that asexual people may actually desire romance, given that fictional representation includes notable aro-aces like Jughead Jones and Felicity Montague (The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy) who are coolly confident in their lack of interest in relationships. However in Beyond The Black Door, a new dynamic is presented as Kamai struggles with her orientation and being different from others. This puts her into sexual situations to see if she can make herself feel like she’s ‘supposed to’ and later trying to work out the limits of what she’s comfortable with while experimenting with her connection to Vehyn. She has a beautiful arc of grappling for self-acceptance and overcoming the intrinsic feeling that she’s damaged because she’s not like everyone else. The specificity with which her feelings are written ring very true to me as a fellow ace, but regardless of orientation, these themes of alienation, of feeling alone and misunderstood and striving to fit in are universally relatable to a wider audience. Kamai’s journey in dealing with her asexuality raises the profile of this minority, helping aces in the audience to feel more visible and offering clarity to other readers who may not have understood or even realised this identity existed. The author cleverly incorporates the mythology she’s created to help illustrate the different aspects of the asexual spectrum via the phases of moon, which is such a great metaphor! The distinguishing feature of this book is definitely the diverse representation – aside from Kamai, a notable side character identifies as both ace and trans (or ‘soul-crossed’), plus a range of minor characters are depicted as being bisexual or gay. This will likely be a hook for a lot of readers, but while the diversity may prompt someone to pick this up, the beautiful imagery and lush descriptions along with the tantalising mysteries will be what keeps them reading. After a slow start to establish this new world, the court intrigue and fascinating character dynamics lead into quickly accelerating action and stunning plot developments that will keep you tense and frantically turning the page!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Julie Zantopoulos

    "You're mine. I embraced you before your mother did. My lips touched your brow before hers. I protected you from the world first." This novel said so much about the gender and sexuality spectrum, about the many shades and varying levels of gender and sexual attraction and all within a dark and dangerous fantasy. It was pretty romance heavy but I was there for the forbidden dark nature and didn't mind it at all. I found the story to be compelling and interesting, the discussion and normalization "You're mine. I embraced you before your mother did. My lips touched your brow before hers. I protected you from the world first." This novel said so much about the gender and sexuality spectrum, about the many shades and varying levels of gender and sexual attraction and all within a dark and dangerous fantasy. It was pretty romance heavy but I was there for the forbidden dark nature and didn't mind it at all. I found the story to be compelling and interesting, the discussion and normalization of sex workers and sexual experimentation to be really amazing inside a YA fantasy. Generally, I was all on board. "Books were doors I was allowed to open with the flick of a wrist...unlike the black door." There were a few aspects of the book that kinda lost me-one being how insta-love the main romantic interest was given the circumstances and danger. The other was the elaboration on the Gods and Kinds card game, how it's played and scored...it just didn't seem relevant to the larger story. Also, there turned out to be a bit of gross grooming in the love interest (though, I mean, he's also a villain so we know he's not the good guy...still, ick). I enjoyed the book and look forward to a lot more by the author. "I simply adore the delicate was you put things. How you cover the truth with softness to make it less sharp. Rose blossoms over thorns." TW: Loss of a loved one, attempted suicide, murder, attempted murder, murder, and physical violence.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Fanna

    Beyond The Black Door is a dark fantasy that follows an asexual and demi-biromantic protagonist who can walk souls through her journey on seeking revenge for the death of a close one but essentially, about the black door she comes across during her soul-walks because that door is holding someone—or something—that might be the reason for the darkness spreading in her life and her world. Consider reading this review on my blog! Solar, Lunar, Earthen. Cerebral, subconscious, physical. Spirit, Beyond The Black Door is a dark fantasy that follows an asexual and demi-biromantic protagonist who can walk souls through her journey on seeking revenge for the death of a close one but essentially, about the black door she comes across during her soul-walks because that door is holding someone—or something—that might be the reason for the darkness spreading in her life and her world. Consider reading this review on my blog! Solar, Lunar, Earthen. Cerebral, subconscious, physical. Spirit, soul, body. ➝ Sum it up in points! ✔ Concept of walking souls (nehym) ✔ Sexually diverse cast ✔ Colored characters ✔ Asexual & demi-biromantic protagonist ✔ Asexual love interest (asexual romance) ✔ Asexual/trans and gay side characters ✔ Genuine support for sex-workers ✔ Dark, evil vibes intertwined with bright motives ✔ Shocking revelations ✔ Secret organizations ✔ Intriguing villain ✔ Intricate world-building ✔ Mystery meets fantasy ✔ Strong female protagonist "Steel in someone's hand can be used for food or ill; it is not for the blacksmith to decide. He creates the weapon, not what is done with it." ➝ Trigger Warnings ⇾ Shying away from one's sexual identity due to societal call ⇾ Internalized acephobia; later resolved ⇾ Emotionally abusive relationship ⇾ Kidnapping ⇾ Birth control manipulation by partner, results in pregnancy ⇾ Mother's death ⇾ House burning up in flames ⇾ Feeling 'broken' due to lack of sexual desire ⇾ Men claiming women as 'mine' ⇾ Father rejecting his daughter ⇾ Ill-statements about pleasure workers ⇾ Exploration of sexual identity through conversation held in a close-knit group ⇾ Brutal stabbing & throat-slicing ⇾ Plot The complex plot of this story is a strong aspect: the revenge for a close one's death soon becomes a seductive mystery intertwined with an evil element spreading through this world, while the characters are exploring their sexual identities and developing their arcs too. The main protagonist is a 'soulwalker'—she can enter people's souls in the sleeping realm—and witnesses a black door every time she walks a soul. The door is locked and that's how her mother wanted it to be. But curiosity reaches a level when it can no longer be ignored and that sparks an event in this story that brings even more intrigue to the entire plot. "Never apologize for who you are. You are a complete soul..." ⇾ Setting The world-building is so intricate and detailed, it brings this fictional world to life. From the scene descriptions to the various outfits, skin colors, and professions being mentioned, the world appears diverse and real enough to imagine the story unfolding in it. Speaking of the vibes, there is a subtle hint of light among the dark clouds evidently floating through the entire story. Some scenes and instances give a spooky feel too and are perfect for readers who prefer to be lightly horrified before the sun rises again. Not only this, secret organizations bring a more hidden world under the light and that creates even more excitement. ⇾ Writing The writing is another strong aspect of Beyond The Black Door. It lays out the story in a smooth manner and allows the readers to connect with the characters through their dialogues. The voice given to each character, in terms of their speech, is distinct and sits well with their established or growing personalities. "Sometimes we actually help people sort out their confusion. To come to know themselves better. Find peace with the truth." ⇾ Characters The characters are very different from each other but are still tied up together by a string of secrets waiting to be disclosed. ✹ Kamai: female protagonist, ace + demi-biromantic, soulwalker, hates when men try to 'claim' her, emotional but logical, brave enough to walk into unexpected places. ✹ Vehyn: male villain, ace love interest, mysterious and intriguing, doesn't disclose any secrets and that gets annoying at times but you still love him for the slight smirks and dark aura. ✹ Razim: straight male protagonist, Kamai's fake step-brother, part of a secret organization, wants to protect the female MC but he needs protection too. ✹ Nikha: asexual and trans side character. addresses switching pronouns, fighter and great with blades, Kamai's best friend, will kill you if try to hurt her loved ones. "Take it back. Say it isn't true, that I'm not yours." I paused. " And then godsdamned apologize." ⇾ Representation Beyond the Black Door deserves all the praise for a great representation in terms of exploring and concluding one's sexual identity. Though, I'm not a part of the represented community so my opinions should be considered secondary to an ownvoices reader. The strongest bit about the representation was the metaphorical use of a moon chart to explain the different sexual identities and even the varying degrees to which someone might belong to that particular identity. Not only was it a great way for someone to understand how nothing about sexuality is black and white, but it also showcased a great discussion among characters in a fantasy world regarding sexuality. I simply couldn't imagine it. I had no desire to run a household, to have children, or to even participate in the act that led to children. Moving on to the asexual representation, the story definitely shows a great arc of the MC questioning her identity, coming to terms with it, and finally embracing it with all the love she has—and should be having—for herself. In an environment where sex workers are common and is also a potential career choice for her, she discovers her asexuality. The representation of a trans character was also appropriately subtle and smooth with the character's personality being projected before bringing his/her label to light. However. the trans character does mention at some point that he prefers the male pronouns but is still addressed by she/her by the MC—which has been explained by the author here. Overall, Beyond The Black Door is perfect for fans of YA dark fantasy who are interested in a strong female MC and an intriguing villain set in a world of secrets, mythology-derived rivalry, and sexual diversity. October 16, 2019 Full review to come! 🔅soulwalker - can visit people's souls 🔅ace + demi-biromantic MC 🔅asexual romance (ace love interest) 🔅ace/trans & gay SCs 🔅dark fantasy 🔅intriguing villain 🔅spooky vibes October 3, 2019 I thought seeing a book being a 'dark fantasy' is all I needed but this one has an ace MC and I-I'm just so happy and excited for this. Yay! I'm a part of a blog tour meant for this stunning read. Thank you so much, FFBC and A.M. Strickland!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Hollis

    DNF at 13% (though I was considering it around 5%..) Just not feeling this one. I was pulled in by the ace rep and while the worldbuilding (character's ability?) is sorta intriguing.. I'm just not feeling it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Silvia

    Apparently the MC is a biromantic asexual and there's a villain romance Apparently the MC is a biromantic asexual and there's a villain romance 👀👀👀

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    okay this visiting other people’s souls thing was at a 20/10 and apparently it's also queer and i'm just?? god i'm so blest

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Bookwormgram

    2.5/3 stars I’m going to be generous and round up. Immediate thoughts (pardon the rambles): I had HIGH hopes for this one. Imagine my disappointment at the 80% mark when it was still Going Nowhere. Listen, this book has some really cool concepts. I mean, soulwalkers and everyone’s different soul houses and the creepy ass Darkness should have SHINED here. Instead we listened to the MC’s meandering inner-monologue the whole time while Nothing Happened. But fear not, it all gets wrapped up in a nice, 2.5/3 stars I’m going to be generous and round up. Immediate thoughts (pardon the rambles): I had HIGH hopes for this one. Imagine my disappointment at the 80% mark when it was still Going Nowhere. Listen, this book has some really cool concepts. I mean, soulwalkers and everyone’s different soul houses and the creepy ass Darkness should have SHINED here. Instead we listened to the MC’s meandering inner-monologue the whole time while Nothing Happened. But fear not, it all gets wrapped up in a nice, pretty, rushed AF bow in the end. Honestly, my biggest issue here was rep. LGBTQ representation in this book is SO AWKWARD. Our MC is asexual...kinda? Another character is trans. And that would be awesome, if these were tied into the story. Instead it’s done in this way where it’s mentioned, and our MC just thinks about how okay those things are. Like, that’s it. It isn’t fluid or nuanced in any way. Just these blunt statements of wokeness (this applies to talk of sex workers also). It was so fucking uncomfortable to read! Lastly, the “love” interest. Just, no. One, she’s asexual so some of the scenes are extra confusing. Two, you couldn’t choose more manipulative, controlling, creepy love interests if you tried. All. The. No. Did this book have some awesome concepts? Yes. Were they executed well at any point? Uh, they were not. Edit to add: I wrote this at 1am, so it’s worth clarifying, the variety of sexualities in this book isn’t written incorrectly. It’s just written in a way that the author REALLY needs you to know it’s supported. Which is not a bad thing, necessarily. It’s just out of place within the story and done in such a way that it comes across as awkward AF.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This book was so addicting and so good. There were times where I couldn't pick it up because I knew I'd never put it down. I stayed up way later than usual last night to finish it. The world building and the mythology and so intricate and unique and well built. Asexuality is beautifully explored. The relationships are complex and incredible. There is a trans character who realizes on page that they're trans, but still asks to be referred to by the gender and name they were assigned at birth, so This book was so addicting and so good. There were times where I couldn't pick it up because I knew I'd never put it down. I stayed up way later than usual last night to finish it. The world building and the mythology and so intricate and unique and well built. Asexuality is beautifully explored. The relationships are complex and incredible. There is a trans character who realizes on page that they're trans, but still asks to be referred to by the gender and name they were assigned at birth, so some people may have issues with that, but I thought the reasoning made sense in text (and the author went into more detail on the decision here, if you're curious). I love this book so, so much and I'm so glad it exists and I'm very ready to scream about it constantly.

  17. 5 out of 5

    ✨Brithanie Faith✨

    5/5 stars e-ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Kamai and her mother are Soulwalkers- which means they can journey into other people's souls while they are asleep. Some souls are lush, beautiful gardens- others dark, terrifying things, and in every soul Kamai comes across a black door; one her mother constantly warns she must never open-no matter what, but when tragedy strikes- all of those warnings are ignored and the black door is opened. I haven't 5/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ e-ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Kamai and her mother are Soulwalkers- which means they can journey into other people's souls while they are asleep. Some souls are lush, beautiful gardens- others dark, terrifying things, and in every soul Kamai comes across a black door; one her mother constantly warns she must never open-no matter what, but when tragedy strikes- all of those warnings are ignored and the black door is opened. I haven't been able to stop thinking about Beyond The Black Door since I finished it! This was an instant favorite for me and I can already see myself rereading it in the near future! I can't remember the last time I connected to a character the way I did Kamai. I was hooked from the very first chapter and I'm kinda sad that it's over, but SO GLAD I was given the opportunity to read this one early! Soulwalking is such an interesting concept to me. This will definitely make you question the appearance of your own soul, and whether or not you'd be able to resist opening the black door yourself! I would highly recommend giving this a chance- I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing what else this author is capable of going forward!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leo

    ALL I KNOW ABOUT THIS BOOK IS THAT IT HAS OWN VOICES ASEXUAL REP AND I’M HERE FOR IT.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    So. This book was a LOT. I picked it up for the asexuality rep bc hello it is I an asexual person! And I want to say first off - the ace rep was FLAWLESS. I loved seeing my sexuality in a fantasy book. However, as someone critiquing a fantasy book (ace stuff aside)...I actually had some issues with it. And I want to be honest about it all because I think people should know. ASEXUALITY REP: One of my FAVORITE things about this book was the little moon chart that explained gender identity and So. This book was a LOT. I picked it up for the asexuality rep bc hello it is I an asexual person! And I want to say first off - the ace rep was FLAWLESS. I loved seeing my sexuality in a fantasy book. However, as someone critiquing a fantasy book (ace stuff aside)...I actually had some issues with it. And I want to be honest about it all because I think people should know. ASEXUALITY REP: One of my FAVORITE things about this book was the little moon chart that explained gender identity and sexuality. The author says there will be a print of the chart in the finished copy (I read the ARC). It was just so GENIUS as a metaphor to explain how gender identity and your sexuality work. And I loved how even though this was a fantasy world/setting, the characters took the time to discuss sexuality and really understand how it works. It was odd because this book is about sex workers so I wasn't sure how an ace person would fit into that, but I loved how it all worked. We really got to see the MC explore her sexuality and figure out if she enjoyed physical touch/kissing/romance and how that all affected her. I felt so seen and it was really kind of amazing to read. If I had had this book 10 years ago I think my entire life would be different. My only issue with the ace rep is potentially at the beginning of the book it's hinted at that Kamai doesn't have a soul + she also spends a lot of her inner monologuing claiming that she's broken and asking if she's even capable of love. Now, as the book goes on everything dispels that and basically tells her she's fine at she is, but I was very weary of it at the beginning bc so often those remarks are used against ace people and I didn't want that in this book. So, I forgive the author...but it's still important to note that there are those phrases in there. (I did love her weird relationship with Vehyn but I wish we got to see their relationship more! She just kind of claims that they're in love and we don't actually get to see much of them falling for each other.) CRITIQUES: First of all, I don't have the knowledge or experience to actually critique this BUT there is a trans character in this book and I'm not sure if the author wrote him in the best way. Mainly what happens is halfway through the book, a woman explains to her friends that she thinks she's "soul-crossed" (which I do actually think is a beautiful way to explain trans people) and she identifies more as a man. However, she doesn't insist people call her a him until the very end of the book where she publicly announces that she's a man and changes her name. I felt weird about it mainly because even after the woman explains she identifies as a man, everyone continues to call him a her...but then again, they do that because he told them to. All that to say, I don't know enough about trans rep to know if that's harmful or if that's valid - which is on me more than anyone, but I wanted to see if anyone had an opinion about it for future reference. I want to get pronouns right and my brain started to get very muddled with this character bc I viewed him as a him, but the MC kept calling him a her. ^^UPDATE ABOUT THIS FROM THE AUTHOR: https://twitter.com/AdriAnneMS/status... I also want to say that from a fantasy perspective, I think the world building could have been stronger. By the time we got to the end of the book, I felt like I had a basic knowledge of the world, but even that was not really explained well. I wanted it to be more fleshed out (this book could've been like another 100-300 pages probably). More than that, I felt like it cut a lot of corners with a few cop outs and a lack of good explanations. The magic of the world makes sense, but how it was used and how the mythology of the world was used/explored was very basic. (And I know this is a standalone YA fantasy but come on I have high standards!) I still don't think I could tell you how all the goddess mythology works even after 400 pages. Additionally, I felt like some of the dialogue was a little bit...amateur. A lot of times the dialogue took me out of the story because it seemed like something I would write in a basic first draft and it didn't seem super realistic. (But that's like...extreme nit-picking on my part SORRY) -- So at the end of the day, I really LOVED this book because it was great ace rep...however, I had a lot more issues with it than I wanted and at the end of the day I felt that the ace rep > the actual world/technical writing of the book. I think it could have been fleshed out more and edited a little deeper. I will definitely be recommending it to my ace pals though!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shalini

    I am a reader who enjoys the plot of the story rather than romance. This book was a beautiful tale with an intricate worldbuilding which gave me Kamai, a Soul Walker who could enter souls, Nehyn, and get all the secrets Every time Kamai entered a soul, there was a black door following her. She had been warned never to open that door by her mother. Circumstances changed when her mother was killed and she had to live with an unknown father. Curiosity and boredom killed the cat, and she did. Life I am a reader who enjoys the plot of the story rather than romance. This book was a beautiful tale with an intricate worldbuilding which gave me Kamai, a Soul Walker who could enter souls, Nehyn, and get all the secrets Every time Kamai entered a soul, there was a black door following her. She had been warned never to open that door by her mother. Circumstances changed when her mother was killed and she had to live with an unknown father. Curiosity and boredom killed the cat, and she did. Life changed for her both in her reality and behind the black door. Secrets piled on, and soon it was time to take action. My first book by author A. M. Strickland, I was pulled into this dark world by the strange rhythm in the lines, they were complex and breathtaking. Each facet was well thought of. The descriptions kept the story alive. The story moved at a steady pace. Kamai was trained and indoctrinated in a secret society. As the main character, she was either too naive or too intelligent. I was quite ambivalent about her down the book. But in the last few chapters, she grew up. But it was Vehyn who lit up the prose. His entry into the world was electric. A gray character with a charisma and charm, he carried darkness around him and made it attractive. Who is Vehyn, you ask? READ THE BOOK!! I enjoyed his chapters in the story more than the rest. The plot twists were interweaved, slowly unfurling at the right moment. My niggles too caught up with me. The story had more of narration which slowed the read. The dialogues too needed to be powerful. The build up of momentum came later, and the last few chapters raised the suspense when the secrets came to light about the master of darkness. Overall, quite a captivating finish.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelsea

    This book has a fantastic cover, an intriguing premise, and queer rep. Sadly, that's where the list of things I liked ends. I really, really wanted to love this book. It has been an anticipated read since April -- and here I am in August, having finished the book over a painful few days, writing this review rather reluctantly. I read this with Tiffany and we had pretty similar thoughts on everything. The characters were flat and unbelievable (MC who vacillates between painfully naive and suddenly This book has a fantastic cover, an intriguing premise, and queer rep. Sadly, that's where the list of things I liked ends. I really, really wanted to love this book. It has been an anticipated read since April -- and here I am in August, having finished the book over a painful few days, writing this review rather reluctantly. I read this with Tiffany and we had pretty similar thoughts on everything. The characters were flat and unbelievable (MC who vacillates between painfully naive and suddenly brilliant, based on what the plot needed), the love interests were disturbingly inappropriate, the story meandered with little purpose, and the queer rep was blunt and awkward. I appreciated the idea behind the scene where asexuality was explained, but in practice, it was quite obviously out of place. Besides that, since it's a fantasy novel, it was explained with a load of fantasy terminology that made the explanations really confusing to me. I likely would have DNF'd the book if it hadn't been an ARC I planned to review. I do appreciate seeing more diverse books promoted this year, especially one featuring an ace MC who isn't aro. Unfortunately, this story felt like it needed a few more rounds of editing. Thank you Imprint Reads for sending me an advanced reading copy. All opinions are my own.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell

    I'm getting Bluebeard vibes. Please, let it be so.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Unlike anything I've ever read before. The mythology of the world in Beyond the Black Door is so interesting (three gods representing the sun, moon and earth) and woven into the story beautifully. I love a good romance in my fantasy books, so I wasn't sure how the story would play out with a asexual main character, but I really appreciate how the author presented Kamai's feelings - especially in all the ways being biromantic asexual is nuanced. All the twists and secrets kept me on my toes. I Unlike anything I've ever read before. The mythology of the world in Beyond the Black Door is so interesting (three gods representing the sun, moon and earth) and woven into the story beautifully. I love a good romance in my fantasy books, so I wasn't sure how the story would play out with a asexual main character, but I really appreciate how the author presented Kamai's feelings - especially in all the ways being biromantic asexual is nuanced. All the twists and secrets kept me on my toes. I just simply wanted to keep reading because the world created was fascinating and dark and magical. Recommended.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Isabel

    Book *has an own voices asexual rep* Me, crying: Everything I am. Everything I have. Just take it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Beyond the Black Door is a serious page-turner that combines thrilling fantasy and dark romance with a beautiful approach to understanding gender and sexuality and a nuanced consideration of love, friendship, and potentially destructive relationships. Perhaps we cannot choose who we love, but we can choose how to act on it. I could not get enough of it and wanted read it all in one sitting! (alas, life got in the way of that) While there are a lot of differences, I suspect many fans of the Beyond the Black Door is a serious page-turner that combines thrilling fantasy and dark romance with a beautiful approach to understanding gender and sexuality and a nuanced consideration of love, friendship, and potentially destructive relationships. Perhaps we cannot choose who we love, but we can choose how to act on it. I could not get enough of it and wanted read it all in one sitting! (alas, life got in the way of that) While there are a lot of differences, I suspect many fans of the Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo would be very into this book. Kamai, like her mother, is a soul-walker with the ability to uncover people's secrets while they sleep. Her mother is a pleasure-artist, which allows her to get close to people while they sleep, but Kamai is uninterested in sex and must find her own path to soul-walking. Kamai's soul is hidden, but in the soul-realm there is a mysterious black door that always follows her. Her mother warns her never to open the black door, and for many years she obeys. Until the day she doesn't.... I won't spoil the book because part of the thrill is discovering what IS beyond the black door, and what happens when Kamai opens it. This is a twisty book full of intrigue, dangerous romance, and world overseen by gods and goddesses. I loved everything about it, but beware that it is definitely on the darker side and there are going to be some content warnings associated with it. Further into the book, the world-building includes this truly beautiful approach to understanding gender and sexuality, including the concept of the "soul-crossed" where someone's soul and body don't match in terms of gender. (This is related to a trans side character and it's fantastic) It also offers a wonderful distinction between attraction, romance, & sex unpacking the fact that just because someone is uninterested in sex doesn't necessarily mean they are uninterested in romance, and vice versa (i.e. asexual & aromantic are two different things) and that all of these things lie on a spectrum. This is laid out in such a simple yet elegant way, I wish we could use this to help everyone trying to understand themselves and other people, all without necessarily having to use labels to do it! It's only one small part of the book, but one I really loved. In case anyone is wondering, Kamai comes to realize (although she does not use these specific words or labels in the book) that she is a cis-woman, asexual, bi-romantic, and demi-romantic. I don't want to say too much more about the plot for fear of spoiling it, but I adored this book and would love to see more people reading it! I received an advance copy for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa ♛Queen Alchemy ϟ Novel Nerd Faction♛

    Disclaimer: I received an Advance Reader Copy at no cost from the publisher/author. All opinions in my review are my own. I am greatly impressed with this book. The young adult world needs more dark fantasy stories like this one. The premise of this book was outstanding. I loved every single piece of this story. The whole idea of Soulwalkers excites me. I did feel that some areas of the book had more telling than showing, but the overall world-building for this book is fantastic. There are so Disclaimer: I received an Advance Reader Copy at no cost from the publisher/author. All opinions in my review are my own. I am greatly impressed with this book. The young adult world needs more dark fantasy stories like this one. The premise of this book was outstanding. I loved every single piece of this story. The whole idea of Soulwalkers excites me. I did feel that some areas of the book had more telling than showing, but the overall world-building for this book is fantastic. There are so many pieces that come togethe to create the whole of this world. I loved the mythology and the vivid descriptions. I thought that the houses that represent the souls was very creative. I loved the the story represents an asexual protagonist. This is something that I haven't seen a whole lot in young adult fiction, but it always warms my heart and excites me when I see this kind of representation for young readers. There are also some other LGBT representation in the book that I loved. The characters in the story were well developed. I felt such a connection with Kamai and I loved her journey. I really liked Vehyn's character as well. He was very convincing. I also loved all of the secondary characters in the story. Overall, this is a dark fantasy story that you won't want to miss out on. The author weaves a bittersweet tale and the twists in the story will keep you hooked to the pages. I can't wait to read what's next from this author! More reviews on my blog: Novel Nerd Faction

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ellie (faerieontheshelf)

    *tagging this as it has an ace mc I believe?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alexa

    dark fantasy with a beautiful cover that has an ace/ace romance and several queer side characters?? GIVE ME (it does have a couple of trigger warnings that I'm not sure about, but I think the pros outweigh the cons for me.)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dany

    Beyond the Black door is the story of Kamai when she opens a Black door in her soul while being warned not to. Once I finished the book I couldn't do anything without thinking about the book. It was magnificent and the ending was the best part. I loved how A.M.Strickland has created an amazing world woven with magic and myth. I still can't believe this is her debut. I'm really looking forward to what she's gonna bring to this world. I heard about this book from my blogger friend who was saying Beyond the Black door is the story of Kamai when she opens a Black door in her soul while being warned not to. Once I finished the book I couldn't do anything without thinking about the book. It was magnificent and the ending was the best part. I loved how A.M.Strickland has created an amazing world woven with magic and myth. I still can't believe this is her debut. I'm really looking forward to what she's gonna bring to this world. I heard about this book from my blogger friend who was saying about the amazing asexual rep in this book and I'm not disappointed. I loved the representation and this is my first time reading asexual rep. I believe Beyond the Black door is unique not only with it's eye-catching summary and amazing representations , but it's a great dive for dark fantasy beginners. Besides the usual all straight and Royal dark fantasies , this stands out a lot with it's narration and characters. I could relate a lot with Kamai for her curiosity and her anger for a lot of people. I can't comment on the sexualities presented in the book , but as a not asexual person , I felt it was great. Writing The writing was a bit slow in the start and had a lot of info dump which I hated. But it stayed pretty good after the 20% mark up until the end. Plot Beyond the Black door is about Kamai overcoming her need for vengeance and accepting her sexuality. The plot is connected to Kamai and the potential world ending , but the diverse sexual representations and interesting storytelling makes it a necessary read. The plot was amazing and all , but I really didn't get invested for the most part. It felt really long and dragged in some parts unnecessarily. Characters Kamai , our protagonist is a curious person who hates questions being unanswered. When a great tragedy happens , her questions just gets unanswered in a bigger scale. Vehyn , is the perfect dark YA male protagonist with his manipulations and attitude towards Kamai. I felt like I should like Vehyn but I really didn't. He seemed bland . Razim and Nikha are the two characters who get some attention through out the book but they weren't present for most of the book. World building The World building was good , but not good enough for a dark fantasy . It had a lot of new myths and stuff , but the world building had no effect on me. This book will be enjoyed by beginners in dark fantasy , since the world building is not much complicated. I thank Edelweiss and Imprint for granting me with the review copy. All opinions are my own.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nia •ShadesOfPaper•

    You can find this review on my blog Shades of Paper. “Perhaps that was for the best. Some secrets weren’t meant to be discovered. Some doors not meant to be opened.” I was so anticipating this book because the premise sounded absolutely fantastic and like something that was right up my alley, and I’m always on the hunt for morally grey villains and strong heroines, so I had such high hopes when it came to Beyond the Black Door, and overall, though I it had some really great elements that I You can find this review on my blog Shades of Paper. “Perhaps that was for the best. Some secrets weren’t meant to be discovered. Some doors not meant to be opened.” I was so anticipating this book because the premise sounded absolutely fantastic and like something that was right up my alley, and I’m always on the hunt for morally grey villains and strong heroines, so I had such high hopes when it came to Beyond the Black Door, and overall, though I it had some really great elements that I enjoyed a lot, I also had some issues with it, and that influenced my enjoyment of the novel. I would say the plot of the book started out being amazing. It was a very easy book to get into and I was so intrigued by everything that was happening and how mysterious and eerie it all felt. We were being kept in the dark with a lot of things and that made me want to keep reading to know how everything would end and to get answers to a few questions that kept popping my mind. I always love me a book about secret societies and a personal vendetta, so I had no issues with those elements. However, as I kept reading the novel, I noticed a few things that at first weren’t that important but ended up affecting my love for the first half of the story. It came a point where I feel the plot got stuck and not much was happening apart from mild conversations and endless inner dialogues of the protagonist, and also there were some things that started to become a bit repetitive, and I lost my interest for a while until the last part of the book. When it comes to the characters, I was so happy to see that it had a pretty diverse cast of characters and some were in the LGBT+ community. Now I cannot tell if that representation was good or not, but I think it was about damn time to have an protagonist that was asexual and demiromantic in a fantasy book. Another thing I actually was pleasantly surprised to see was how sex working had quite an important focus on the story, and how it wasn’t degraded or treated badly (though there were certain characters that totally were assholes, but I think the overall tone and message wasn’t that one). “These were too many secrets. Too many mysteries: the deaths, my missing soul, the black door. And now that my mother was dead, I might never discover the truth about any of them.” My main issue was that I found sometimes our protagonist extremely annoying. She got on my nerves a few times, and she was so exasperating that I just wanted to hit a wall at certain points of the book. I could understand certain decisions she made, as well as how naïve she was in some moments, but she made such bad decisions that were so obvious to the reader and then regretted them that at times it was a bit hard to empathize with her. However, I enjoyed her development throughout the novel and the dynamics she had with the side characters, as well as the friendship she had with Nikha, which was so precious and beautiful. The romance was okay for me. There were certain things that I loved about the relationship between Vehym and Kamai, because they had such interesting dynamics that it was very fun to watch them interact and seeing them together, but at the same time I feel Vehym was such an underdeveloped villain that I was a bit disappointed by the lack of background his character had. I just wish he would have been more complex and that instead of the author focusing on certain aspects of his relationship with Kamai, we got more about him solo. And just like it happened with Vehym, I feel the world and the secret society thing to be quite lackluster. I guess this was just a me thing, but there is a certain feeling I want to have when I read a book that has a secret society trope in it, and sadly I didn’t feel that with Beyond the Black Door. I think those concepts were really cool and could have added a lot to the story, but they wasn’t enough information about them for me to form a fair picture in my mind and feel that spark. Overall, I think Beyond the Black Door had definitely some strong elements that I really enjoyed, and it was a solid book with a diverse cast that I really enjoyed. Of course, there were certain things that I would have loved to see, along with some minor issues I had with the pacing and the ending, but as a whole, I’m happy I’ve read this book. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t change my opinion whatsoever. All thoughts are my own. TW: internaliced acephobia, emotionally abusive & manipulative romantic relationships, attempted suicide, violence, birth control manipulation of a partner, misgendering a trans character who hasn’t switched pronouns yet. “None of those lessons mattered anymore, because I’d ignored the most important one of all: The first thing my mother had tried to teach me about the black door. Not to open.” Actual rating: 3.5 ★ Thank you Macmillan for providing me with an ARC of this book Blog | Twitter | Instagram | BlogLovin’

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