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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Crossing Gate by Asiel R. Lavie is the first book in The Waltz of Sin and Fire series. Lenora is anxiously waiting for her third attempt going through the Crossing Gate which will allow her to enter adulthood. Her family is relying on her to succeed this time even if becoming an adult comes with various hardships but a job will give them everything they need. But Lenora never thought to be involved in a revolution that brings her up against society's control. She never could have predicted the stirring of emotions when she forms a connection with a stranger who will make her want to break the law. A grander conspiracy lies behind why she can't make it through the Crossing Gate. This allows her to explore her newfound emotions, to delve into the secrets that lurk within the kingdom, and the courage it takes to find her voice against the kingdom's control.
Asiel R. Lavie delivers a must-read that hits all the right notes with elements of the dystopian genre to find one's voice under the rule of an oppressive kingdom. The story features vivid themes and a rich voice that creates a gritty setting, a strong female lead, and sheds an important light on society. The themes explored include the transition into adulthood, the journey of adolescence, trust, betrayal, relationships, family, oppression, emotions, and the revolution against society. Each theme is important as Lenora's journey into adulthood comes with challenges, hardships, and a fight. Lavie captures the reality of a teenager coping with adulthood through the lens of a dystopian society. The kingdom is a rich setting for this story to unfold as it is rooted in a coming-of-age journey that focuses on sin, emotions, adulthood, and trust.
The story has an urgent poignancy that is reminiscent of today's society. The story has a warning of sexual assault, violence, and suicidal thoughts that may be triggering for some readers. The story also features themes of oppression, government control, starvation, death, and sacrifice. Relationships are a key element in Lenora's life as she's coming of age and discovering herself because this teaches her who to trust, how to trust her own feelings, and provides her with allies that are necessary for a revolution. Sins and emotions are portrayed in a unique way in that even your sins and feelings are under the kingdom's control. The Crossing Gate is about finding your voice in an oppressive society told through a story with strong dystopian themes that explore emotions, sacrifice, oppression, and empowerment.