by Lorie Lewis Ham
& Jeri Westerson
This week we have a review of the final Booke of the Hidden book by Jeri Westerson, The Darkest Gateway. We also have a fun Halloween related guest post by Jeri. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of The Darkest Gateway, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
The Darkest Gateway by Jeri Westerson
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham
The Darkest Gateway is the fourth and final book of the Booke of Hidden series by Jeri Westerson. The third book, Shadows in the Mist, left us hanging so I was anxiously awaiting this one.
The series began with Booke of the Hidden, in which Kylie Strange has moved across the country to Moody Bog for a fresh start after breaking up with her boyfriend Jeff. All she wants is to open a simple teashop, but things don’t stay simple when she discovers the Booke of the Hidden behind a wall during her remodeling. Once she opens the Booke, demons and monsters begin to escape and it becomes her job to catch and return them before too many people are hurt or killed. She does that with the help of a demon named Erasmus Dark, who is somehow attached to the book, and a small group of Wiccans.
Everything comes to a head in The Darkest Gateway. Halloween is near and the Booke is releasing more and more monsters. Also, Kylie’s ties to the Booke are getting stronger-which is both good and scary. The townspeople are being stirred up against Kylie and the Wiccans, blaming them for all the bad that has been happening-which is true on one level, but they are also the ones who have been stopping it. Kylie decides that the only hope for all of them is to destroy the book, but the only one that can do that is Satan himself. She is also determined to sever Erasmus from the Booke so that destroying the Booke won’t destroy him as well, because she loves him. His love for her has brought about some unusual powers he has never had before. Sheriff Ed seems to have reconciled himself to the fact that she did not choose him, and is still there fighting by her side. He too may have actually found love in an unusual place.
After they tell the community the truth, many of them join the group in their fight against the monsters and it was great to see so many coming together and forming some very unexpected alliances. We also uncover Ruth’s secret, which was a nice twist. Can they possibly stop the Booke before it unleashes untold terror on Halloween? Will Kylie survive her trip to the Underworld to face Satan?
This book has so many interesting twists and turns, which made for a wonderful and satisfying final book to this series. Jeri is also very good at creating interesting and complex characters in all of her books.
The Darkest Gateway is filled with so much action that you won’t want to put it down! I can’t wait to see what Jeri has up her sleeve next!
Traditions of Halloween
By Jeri Westerson
From Ghoulies and Ghosties and Long-leggedly Beasties and Things that go Bump in the Night.
I’ve always liked that phrase. It says so much about the things in the shadows that we can’t see, and how that plays with our imaginations. And nothing quite plays with our imaginations as much as Halloween. Humans have a long history with what to do with the dead, how to imagine death, and what the dead get up to once they are dead. Besides terrifying weather, earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions, nothing gets us going—religiously speaking—like the dead.
In our western European traditions, we’ve tried to deal with it in a mish-mash of Christian belief with old earth religion beliefs. And it is at this intersection where we find our earliest traditions about Halloween.
But it wasn’t all pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns. In fact, pumpkins are New World fruit. So back in the Old World, Scotland to be exact, they carved out turnips. And believe me, those were far scarier than a smiling pumpkin.
As for witches, we tend to think of two types: the sweet or sexy siren from Buffy or the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, or the green-skinned, long-nosed cackling variety, cornering the wayward child in the woods or trying to go after a young girl with a scarecrow, a tin man, and a cowardly lion. The long history of witches comes from all different corners of the globe, in varying cultures. Some of the witches were always seen as evil, but some were more benign, even helpful. “Double, Double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble” comes to us from the Weird Sisters from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, who do very witchy things and do a little prophesying, too. For several centuries thereafter, this is what we think of when we say “witch.”
One of the other symbols of this time is the Devil, or any old demon will do. After all, all sorts of hobgoblins were afoot after dark, doing their mischief, souring the milk, tangling our hair while we sleep.
And then, of course, because we are talking about All Hallows Eve, or Hallowed (Holy) Evening and referring to the dead whose spirit finds it a pleasant time to go wandering, there is the image of the ghost and the skeleton.
People have liked dressing up as these various creatures of imagination for a long time, either partly in fear of them or to appease them. Halloween has its roots in the ancient, pre-Christian Gaelic festival of Samhain (pronounced SAA-wn), which was celebrated on the night of October 31. The Gaelic people, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, believed that the dead returned to earth on Samhain. People would gather to light bonfires, offer sacrifices, and pay homage to the dead.
During some Gaelic celebrations of Samhain, villagers disguised themselves in costumes made of animal skins to scare away unwanted ghostly visitors. In later centuries, people began dressing up as ghosts and devils, and in exchange for food and drink, they’d romp about, entertaining the crowds. This custom was called “mumming”, and dates back to the Middle Ages, a precursor of trick-or-treating.
In later centuries, in Scotland and Ireland, young people took part in a tradition called “guising,” dressing up in costume and going from house to house, to receive a bribe of fruit, nuts, or even coins to perform some kind of “trick”—singing, reciting a poem, or something else—replacing the earlier custom of mumming.
Trick-or-Treating in the United States
The earliest known reference to “trick or treat”, was printed in the November 4, 1927 edition of The Blackie, Alberta Canada Herald:
“Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.”
Some American colonists celebrated Guy Fawkes Day which commemorates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, a Catholic-led conspiracy to blow up England’s parliament building and remove Protestant King James I from power. In the mid-19th century, large numbers of new immigrants, especially those fleeing the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s, helped popularize Halloween.
In the early 20th century, Irish and Scottish communities revived the Old World traditions of “souling” (people would pass out pastries called “soul cakes” in exchange for praying for the dead) and guising in the United States. By the 1920s, however, it had gotten out of hand. Pranks had become outright vandalism, acts of violence, and arson causing real damage amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you remember the Halloween scenes in the Judy Garland movie Meet Me In St. Louis and the bonfires and pranks the kids got up to, it could get pretty terrifying.
By the 1930s, the U.S. President got into the act and, hoping to eliminate the excessive pranks on Halloween, pushed for an organized, community-based trick-or-treating tradition of passing out candy to costume kids coming to their door.
As the years went on, Halloween had become big business, first in candy sales, then in home décor. I don’t think I have to tell you that it is second only to Christmas for consumer spending.
We’ve come a long way from our fear of those “beasties” in the dark. And maybe it’s a good thing. Or is it? I think we’ll always be a little afraid of things in the dark, things we can’t quite see, can’t quite understand. That’s what Halloween has been about all along.
To enter to win an ebook copy of The Darkest Gateway, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, with the subject line “gateway,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 19, 2019. Only US entries. If entering via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
You can find more Halloween fun in all the October issues of KRL and KRL News and Reviews! You can also listen to the last 2 episodes of the Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast for some stories perfect for your Halloween listening!
You can use this link to purchase this book from Amazon. We have also included a link to Jeri’s other recent supernatural book that was just released, The Daemon Device. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link, and it doesn’t go through if you read KRL in your email:
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.