I absolutely loved this book! It was a bit uneven in its pacing and narrative tone, vacillating between charming irreverence/dark humor and unrequited love and genocide, so I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first, but the characters were wonderful and I learned quite a bit that I didn’t know before about Jewish folklore and mysticism.
“The Pomegranate Gate” by Ariel Kaplan is the first in a series about the adventures of a girl named Toba whose grandmother is hiding her secret of her half-Mazik (a type of immortal being with magic) identity with the use of a sapphire amulet that she can never take off. The amulet renders her unable to scream and unable to run. These traits are not useful when all Jews are evicted from their homeland or forced to convert to Christianity. Toba and her family elect to flee.
On the journey, Toba stumbles into a gate between worlds, a realm where the Mazik live that can only be accessed by them on the full moon, and becomes lost in that other realm, where she discovers the truth of who she is and complications ensue. In the mortal plane, Toba’s grandmother Elena joins forces with Naftaly, the fumbling son of a tailor who has visions and dreams of the Mazik realm.
The universe was so intriguing and a fresh take on the tired fairy tale/mythology retelling genre, and that kept me reading. The characters were also compelling and well-developed, with thoughtful motivations and complexities.
This was a fascinating story of love, loyalty, family and faith, and I’d pick up the next book in the series.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advance review copy. I am leaving this review voluntarily.