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Winter Door: The Gateway Trilogy Book Two    by Isobelle Carmody order for
Winter Door
by Isobelle Carmody
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2006 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Winter Door is the second installment in Isobelle Carmody's Gateway Trilogy. There are connections to what occurred in the introductory book, Night Gate, including characters who have taken on human form and chosen to remain behind in Valley. Series heroine Rage Winnoway faces traumatic times, as Mam has come out of a coma, but remains weak. While Rage lives under her distant Uncle Samuel's guardianship, it's uncertain as to whether he will remain in Hopeton, as he is restless to return to the seclusion of his jungle encampment.

Rage's companion Billy Thunder chose to return to Hopeton with her, even though it meant he would change back to dog-form. A friendship blossoms between school bully Logan and Rage as she comes to understand the reason he has lived in five foster homes and conceals his inability to read. Logan learns of Rage's dream-travel experiences. Those who stayed behind in Valley, keeping their human form, now serve in various positions. Mr. Walker is Prince Walker of 'the little folk in the caverns beneath Fork'. He married the king's daughter, though both died a year before during the plague. By his dying decree, the king named Walker as his successor. However, the Prince has not assumed the title as he feels it rightfully belongs to his daughter Nomadiel. Lady Elle has become a well-thought of leader, a council member in the other-world community, while Goaty has become Guardian Gilbert, apprenticed to the wizard.

Threatening forces are the major thrust of this second book. In Hopeton a vicious winter drags on beyond the season, with driving winds, hail, and never-ending snowfalls. As Rage and Billy Thunder dream-travel from Hopeton to Valley, Null, Fork, and other worlds in search of the friends they left behind, they encounter a sinister threat to all worlds. Rage must discover what is happening to her friends' habitats before she awakens from each dream. The firecat is believed to have opened a gate that has created havoc to all sides of the territories. Rage is told by Mother Rue that the wizard has disappeared and 'The visions showed me that the answer to ending this winter can be found in the link between you and the wizard.' Rage and Logan find unnatural creatures lurking around the Winnoway Farm and community - feral creatures believed to be wolves, but discovered to have larger footprints and tusks like a boar's.

In dream-travel, Rage and Billy Thunder discover that harsh winter conditions have seeped through a gate into both worlds, causing freezing of the magic waters of Wildwood and its surroundings, threatening inhabitants' livelihoods. They also discover that three years have passed in the alternate world, while in Hopeton only three months have gone since Rage and Billy were last in the Valley. A force to be reckoned with is the powerful Stormlord in his Stormkeep, who has control over the community called Sorrow. The Stormlord has cast continuous darkness, so that generations of youth have never seen the sun, and have no knowledge of what it is to live in light. With centaurs for transport, Rage and Billy Thunder travel through the sentient Deepwood, passing tests, to reach the Stormlord's holdings. Rage must gain entrance into the impregnable fortress to face the powerful lord and his minions, 'gray fliers'. Lady Elle faces her greatest challenge ever - 'bright flame vs. dark flame' - as Rage ponders the threat of the firecat putting an end to her ability to dream-travel.

Isobelle Carmody is a splendid world- and character-builder, creating arresting names and an intriguing plotline. Winter Gate follows old characters and introduces new in both worlds, giving them complex trials and tribulations. Because characters take on different forms in the many alternate worlds, it is difficult at times to keep track of their names and places of existence - which I found to be a hindrance to a smooth story flow. Carmody's book two is without doubt a superb creation, but I recommend that readers take in Night Gate prior to reading Winter Door, to connect loose ends.

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