Author: K.B. Hoyle
Narrator: Dollcie Webb
Length: 10 hours 19 minutes
Publisher: K.B. Hoyle⎮2018
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Gateway Chronicles, Book 1
Release date: Nov. 19, 2018
**I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by K.B. Hoyle. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.**
Darcy Pennington hates her life. She is an insufferably average teenager with no real friends, crushing social anxiety, and an indescribable sense of not fitting in anywhere. A change in her dad's job forces her to attend Cedar Cove Family Camp the summer before her eighth-grade year, and Darcy once again finds herself on the outside of a social circle of teenagers, with her only advocate being an awkward girl named Samantha Palm. The only problem is, Darcy has no desire to be friends with her, but as the hostility from the other teenagers increases, she decides to return the friendship. When Darcy begins to experience strange magical occurrences, she comes to believe she's either losing her mind or on the brink of a discovery that could give her purpose in life. After unwittingly stumbling through a magical gateway to a new world called Alitheia, she convinces Sam and the other four teenagers to travel there with her, and despite their earlier hostilities toward her, they eventually concede leadership of their small group to Darcy. Once there, they learn the "arrival of the Six" was prophesied hundreds of years before and that they must expel an ancient evil from the land. In the end their lives, and the fate of Alitheia, will hinge upon Darcy. Will she have what it takes to fulfill her mysterious purpose? Or will she fall prey to a deadly foe?
“The Six” starts off pretty normal: moody teenage girl struggles with life, an annoying little brother, and an unwelcome change to her routing instituted by her somewhat-clueless parents. Then the little bits of magic and whimsy start sneaking in, and the story goes from simple coming-of-age to something purely magical. The end result is a story that is intriguing, beautiful, and touching.
Despite the sheer, overwhelming volume of YA stories in the world, there aren’t a lot of authors who write young adult characters well, but Ms. Hoyle is one of them! She took an age that is often so full of angst it’s kinda disgusting and penned a collection of characters who were genuinely likable. Darcy and Same were by far my favorites. Perhaps because of my own discomfort in social situations and struggle to make friends even as an adult, but I found that I really resonated with Darcy. It took her awhile to warm up to her new summer camp, forced interaction with the annoying girl down the street (who turns out to be a fantastic, loyal, sweetheart), and weirdness that no one else seems to be aware of. Her depth of feeling was incredible, though, and I truly felt her joys, sorrows, and missteps because I’ve been there. That, in my opinion, is what makes the best characters and Ms. Hoyle nailed it. Sam was far more dimensional than I expected at first. Not only is she sweet and enthusiastic, but she showed a touching amount of loyalty and understanding where Darcy and her struggles were concerned. Sam was the kind of friend we should all be so blessed to have, and I loved her more with every chapter.
The setting and plot were just as bright and touchable as the characters. The pace was perfect for the way things unfolded and the settings, both mortal and magical, were painted with just the right amount of detail, color, and texture. Cedar Cove was so well and realistically described that it felt like, could you just find the right place yourself, it’d be perfectly reasonable to step through from it to Alitheia. It takes the gang some time to get there, but the wait is well worth it—it’s truly fascinating and unique. And once they do, things really take off.
Ms. Webb NAILED IT as narrator. Her voice was perfect for the characters she portrayed, and she did teenager without overdramatizing it. She made the characters distinct without using goofy voices, accents, or weird pitch, and her pacing was on point. There was a lot of emotion flying around in this story, and Ms. Webb captured it all. She’s definitely on my Favorite Narrator list! The audio recording was clearly professionally done, with not over-long pauses between chapters, disruptive background noise, or changes in volume. The music was a nice touch as well.
Bottom line: Thirteen is awkward and painful and weird for most people, and Darcy was no exception. But there’s so much more to this story than that. Magic, prophecy, the fate of an entire realm…”The Six” has it all. Highly recommended—especially the audio version!