Beyond the Black Door
Author: A. M. Strickland
Publication Date: 29 October 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
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 …
Beyond the Black Door is one of those books that immediately drew me in because of its incredibly gorgeous cover and enticing synopsis. The whole idea of soulwalking is utterly fascinating, so I knew I needed this book in my life.
Like her mother, Kamai is a soulwalker. Soulwalking is highly illegal for anyone who isn’t a priest or priestess. However, with the help of her mother, Kamai learns to walk into the nehym, the soul house of a being. Each nehym differs from person to person but the basic layout tends to be similar, and each one houses a mysterious black door. Her mother is adamant about her never opening the door. But when Kamai’s life is completely turned upside down, she decides it’s time to find the answers behind the black door…so she enters.
I found this story to be a bit confusing for the first quarter of the book because we are literally thrown into two worlds at once. The first world is the walking world where we Kamai lives with her mother and stepfather. They are pleasure artists (not prostitutes since they are not paid in currency). In this world, Kamai grapples with her lack of sexual desire and thinks that there is something wrong with her. She makes it clear that she’s attracted to both males and females, but the thought of physical contact is revolting. The other world that we have to wrap our head around is the sleeping world when Kamai is soulwalking. The nehyms are incredibly complex and it’s difficult to understand her experiences at first.
I really appreciated the shift in plot once Kamai decides to go through the black door and meets Vehyn. Vehyn has been described as a gray character, which I think is incredibly accurate. He’s manipulative, seductive, and you don’t know whether to trust him or hate him. I loved how he challenged Kamai and her beliefs.
Overall, I think that Beyond the Black Door is an interesting take on the idea of peering into souls as well as understanding one’s self. Additionally, I think that this story is an important one with its asexual representation. While I am not able to give an own voices review on this topic, please go check out those reviews!
Thank you to Imprint/Macmillan and Edelweiss for providing an eARC for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
Read the first three chapters of Beyond the Black Door here.
AdriAnne Strickland was a bibliophile who wanted to be an author before she knew what either of those words meant. She shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, her pugs, and her piles and piles of books. She loves traveling, dancing, vests, tattoos, and every shade of teal in existence, but especially the darker ones. She is the coauthor of SHADOW RUN and SHADOW CALL (Delacorte/Penguin Random House) and author of the forthcoming BEYOND THE BLACK DOOR (Imprint/Macmillan).