Silver Chips Online

Throw away the key to "Ravens Gate"

Anthony Horowitz creates a world of repetitive suspense

By Bridget Egan, Online Art Editor
December 20, 2005
A misunderstood teenage orphan is convicted of a serious crime and is given the choice between going to jail and living with a sinister woman in the countryside of England. But wait, is this Anthony Horowitz's new novel "Ravens Gate," or the newest episode of a very bad soap opera?

"Ravens Gate" is the initial novel in the new series, "The Gatekeepers," by Anthony Horowitz. A disjointed story of fourteen-year-old Matthew Freeman, who was left an orphan when his parents died in a tragic car accident, "Ravens Gate" investigates the mysterious world of Matt's new guardian, Mrs. Deverill. Soon after arriving in the town of Lesser Mallings with Mrs. Deverill, Matt discovers that something sinister is going on at an abandoned nuclear power plant nearby.

While "Ravens Gate" has an interesting premise, it is painfully similar to many other novels, reiterating several of their ideas from other novels. "Ravens Gate" is identical to Louis Sachar's "Holes," which also features a criminal teenage boy who is offered the choice between jail and a slightly more appealing alternative, but unfortunately chooses the more risky of the two options.

The lack of character development is another problem in the novel. While the novel is part of a series and the character development is understandably slow, Matt remains obtuse and does not change his dull nature until the end of the novel. Another regrettable quality of the novel is Horowitz's tendency to kill perfectly decent characters faster than a NASCAR driver goes around the racing track. This inclination leaves the cast of characters very limited by the end of the novel, with only a scattering of lucky souls surviving.

Even more of a nuisance is Horowitz's disjointed style. "Ravens Gate" introduces characters only to whisk them away, never to be heard from again. If somebody were to read the novel, not knowing that it was part of a series, they would believe that Horowitz's editor has simply added the characters to see what would happen to book sales.

If someone is searching for excellent novels that will keep their attention for more than half an hour, "The Dark" by Marianne Curly is highly suggested as well as "The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray" by Chris Wooding both of which are well written and have flawless plots. Both of these novels are based in the real world in which fantasy intrudes on the lives of seemingly normal people, similarly to the "Ravens Gate," but better.

Lastly, "Ravens Gate" is written as if it were meant to be made into a television movie, with "scenes" ending with lines that could be perfectly followed by a commercial break. Unfortunately, after reading this novel, a break is what you will want, but like many poorly made movies it drags on and on, never seeming to end. While the descriptive language in the novel is spectacular it is excessive and unreasonable, as if Horowitz was planning for the special effects in the "Ravens gate" movie.

While Horowitz has in the past produced novels worth reading, "Ravens Gate" is not one of them. Printing ought to be stopped before any more people accidentally read it, expecting something good.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/6030