Beyond the Black Door was one of multiple books with ace rep we were blessed with this past October, and I will admit it was the sole reason I preordered this book. But upon reading the synopsis, I found myself very intrigued, and I’m so glad I finally picked it up!
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 …
Rep: biromantic asexual MC, trans side character
CWs: death of a parent, murder, blood, internalized aphobia, internalized transphobia
This is the dark fantasy of my heart. It was intriguing, it was atmospheric, it was everything I wanted.
I really loved this book, and took my time reading it. The world was so interesting, and I loved the writing style, which really drew me in, and made me feel like I was reading a fairytale. The main character went through a lot of character development as well, which is always essential to me.
I’m so used to seeing the main character falling in love with the villain and them having a pretty abusive relationship, that the way this was handled in this book was truly a blessing. Because here, I loved the villain, he even had a lot of character growth. But the relationship also wasn’t healthy, and I’m so glad to see a main character acknowledge that on the page.
And there’s so much ace rep! I loved how unapologetically ace this was, in the sense where asexuality is viewed as normal from the start (though not from the main character herself, who does state that she feels broken), and there’s a detailed discussion of the split attraction model, and asexuality, and gender and sexuality in general, being a spectrum.
There are two things to be aware of. First, the main character is biromantic asexual, but it takes her the full book to come to terms with her asexuality, and she really struggles with it. This might help a lot of readers who feel the same way, and I think it’s very important that we have different kinds of rep, including this kind. But it might be something that’s triggering for other people to read as well, so it is important to know this up front.
Second, one of the most important side characters is a trans man. But for most of the book, he isn’t out yet, and after he comes out, he doesn’t immediately start using “he/him” pronouns, but keeps using “she/her” for a while longer until he feels ready. Again, I think it’s very important to see different types of representation, including types where the character struggles with their gender or sexuality. I also think it was handled respectfully by the author (who is non-binary). But it is something to be aware of before going in.
Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR?
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