The Keeper’s Six

Book Reviews / Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023

By: Kate Elliott
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Macmillan-Tor/Forge

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Keeper’s Six is a fantasy novella by Kate Elliott. I was looking forward to reading it as it sounded like a fantasy that I would really enjoy, Unfortunately, the story never fully came together for me. There were plenty of great elements, but I felt that there was simply too much packed into a novella for me to completely enjoy it.  The story centers around Esther whose son Daniel, has been kidnapped, and she embarks on a journey with her old colleagues to rescue him. Traveling between realms is popular in fantasy novels, but in this book, it is quite unique. Esther is part of a Hex, a group that guides travelers between realms, called the Beyond. Each has a specific talent: the Gate opens the portal, the Voice can communicate with any being, the Shotgun is the fighter, the Ghost is intangible, and Esther is the Lamp, who can manipulate light. Her son Daniel is the Keeper, who watches over the Gate. There are many gates and many Hexes, each specific to the Keeper and Gate where they cross. The Hex has not been together for a year as they were sanctioned by the Colloquium, the group of dragons who control the Hex travel through the Beyond. It was quite a bit to sort out the realm travel, the Hex and their roles, the Keeper, and the rescuing of Daniel in 200 pages. I felt that there could have been so much more fleshed out if the book were longer and I believe I would have enjoyed it more. I would still recommend the Keeper’s Six as I know other readers will enjoy this short jaunt through realms with dragons.

What I really did love about this book was the chosen main character. It was refreshing to have tough, sixty-year-old woman serving in a realm hopping group. Esther was tough in dealing with the dragons, and no one stops a mother looking for her child. As a woman approaching that age, Esther was very relatable. I certainly could relate to the aches and pains she felt with age, and I would have like to have seen more of Esther. It was also great to have LBGTQIA+ representation. Daniel is married to Kai, a male of another race. He is described in fair detail, but not mentioned what exactly his race is. They have four children together.

The Hex was a very original concept for realm travel. As different realms and portals are a common element in fantasy, this was a unique twist on how to accomplish it. The realm travel itself is used for general travel, trade, envoys, and some darker things as well. The only way to travel is through the Beyond, guided by a Hex that protects the travelers. Another added layer to the story was the sanctioning of the Hex due to a customer complaint. The members of the Hex are still reeling from being sanctioned and are not on the best of terms. Working out the strain on the relationship, while searching for Daniel, was quite a bit to sort out. They are not supposed to be travelling in the Beyond, but for Daniel, they will risk the consequences of breaking the sanction.

With all these great fantasy elements, what did not work for me? I simply felt there was too much going on for a novella. The world building was great, the idea of the Beyond, and the different realms were thoroughly described. Ms. Elliott is truly gifted at world building. However, there seemed to be more in the way of how to travel, what is in the Beyond, and dealing with dragon politics, that Esther’s story got sidetracked. The strife within the Hex also added to that issue for me. I wanted to know more about these characters, especially Esther, but with all the other aspects going on, the characters were not fully fleshed out. Again, I love that Esther was a 60-year main female character, but I did not get fully invested in her, or the others in the Hex. Daniel and Kai were sweet, but again, we do not get enough of them. I could not get completely invested in the characters.

I would still recommend this book. It is a quick read with unique elements. There is a great deal packed into it and I just wanted more of this world to read.

You never stop worrying about your kids, even when they’re adults. Kate Elliott’s action-packed The Keeper’s Six features a world-hopping, bad-ass, spell-slinging mother who sets out to rescue her kidnapped adult son from a dragon lord with everything to lose.

It’s been a year since Esther set foot in the Beyond, the alien landscape stretching between worlds, crossing boundaries of space and time. She and her magical traveling party―her Hex―haven’t spoken since the Concilium banned them from the Beyond for a decade. But when she wakes in the middle of the night to her grown son’s cry for help, the members of her Hex are the only ones she can trust to help her bring him back from wherever he has been taken.

Esther will have to risk everything to find him. Undercover and hidden from the Concilium, she and her Hex will be tested by false dragon lords, a darkness so dense it can suffocate, and the bones of an old crime come back to haunt her.
There are terrors that dwell in the space between worlds.

My thanks to TOR for approving an ARC for an honest review
Find out more about Kate Elliot on her website at:
Purchase The Keeper’s Six on Amazon

Kate Elliott has been writing stories since she was nine years old, which has led her to believe that writing, like breathing, keeps her alive. As a child in rural Oregon, she made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction.

Her most recent novel is Unconquerable Sun, gender swapped Alexander the Great in space. She is also known for her Crown of Stars epic fantasy series, the Afro-Celtic post-Roman alt-history fantasy (with lawyer dinosaurs) Cold Magic and sequels, the science fiction Novels of the Jaran and YA fantasy Court of Fives, and the epic fantasy Crossroads trilogy with giant justice eagles.

Her particular focus is immersive world building & centering women in epic stories of adventure & transformative cultural change. She lives in Hawaii, where she paddles outrigger canoes & spoils her schnauzer. 

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