The author of this book has kindly offered a signed copy for a lucky reader. To be in with a chance to win, just leave a copy below or on our Facebook page.
The draw will take place on December 1st.
The draw will take place on December 1st.
Claire could see Liam was tense, his eyes pale against the black balaclava, his hand clenched around the bolt cutters he was holding. The others avoided his gaze: Ansel patted down his balaclava where it jutted over his beard while Mick tapped his gloved fingers against the wall of the van, but Claire held it, staring him down as the vehicle lurched over the rutted farm road.
The opening paragraph of Gatekeeper. This hints at the action one is about to read but this book has much more; attempts at understanding the natural order of things, a struggle to realise one person’s vision and all that that entails, the sacrifices true dedication demands.
This was a read with a difference - an attempt to reintroduce wolves into their natural habitat with no media, no public knowledge and just the hope they will thrive and be discovered (and left alone) by the public as and when. An unusual subject, the story is told from the viewpoint of an animal activist, one whose passion for her cause is tangible. Her beliefs and passions are well-meant but an altercation with a more violently disposed activist means she is kicked out of the group. That, however, is just the start of her journey.
The story winds around Claire, the protagonist, both in her ambitions personally and professionally. The reader can feel every high and low, every spark of anger, every emotional high. This is representative of the author’s ability to convey the moment in time, the present action by use of language that is neither flowery nor over-indulgent. What is more than apparent is the author’s knowledge of her subject; extremely well-detailed, this is truly dedicated research.
Claire is a strong, independent - and fiery! - woman but this is no feminist story. She can deal with Liam but finds it difficult to cope with trust on those that enter her life on this strange pathway her life suddenly turns. From living isolated in a desert to being placed in a metropolis with no one really knowing her cause, the reader warms to Claire despite her detached independence; there are flashes of the vulnerable girl inside but not for long. This is a woman on a mission, caring for wolves and their environment with a focus that borders on the deadly. She has to complete tasks that are not for the weak-hearted (if you’re looking for a gentle, environmentally-cosy, cuddly wolf teddy-bear tale, then this book is most definitely not for you); this is hardcore survival in our modern world. For Claire as much as for the wolves.
The story also makes you realise how humans have destroyed an eco-system that sees these characters working to put things right. There were occasions when the reader feels not a lot is happening but the story then develops and opens up in areas that make you realise there is always something going on in the background - from Claire being harassed by Liam, her original antagonist, to supporting characters that have more depth than when they first appear in the storyline. Such as Blaine, the instigator of the plan.
Originally a project by the rich, methodical and enigmatic Blaine, cut-throat decisions have to be made. He aims to release wolves back into their once-natural environment undercover but checked on by chosen Gatekeepers. However, Claire soon realises to be a chosen Gatekeeper, one has to be above dedicated, above sentimental and more than self-sufficient. She crosses people she doesn’t know are her allies, people who are enemies, people she thinks she can trust but is never really sure and her love interest will never know her true mission; a life with him is even sacrificed to a certain degree. Claire is not only physically strong (able to defend herself when needed) but mentally tough and passes tests she didn’t even realise she was being put through.
Gatekeeper is a modern tale of animal welfare, environmental issues but is far from a fairytale with a happy ever after and more than relevant in our lifetime. It is a gritty, harsh and oft-times depressing tale that throws the reader hope. Does Claire succeed? Does she survive the harsh endurances for the wolves? Do the wolves make it? And is this at all possible in reality?
You’ll have to read it to find out!
Kay Sexton has been a finalist for several writing awards including the Sunday Times Short Story Award, the Willesden Herald Fiction Contest and a winner of the Fort William Festival Contest. She particularly enjoys collaborative projects. One of which, a words and pictures exhibition with Irish painter Fion Gunn, was shown at two London galleries, Dublin’s National Botanic Gardens and the Tsinghua University, Beijing. Gatekeeper was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize.
Before turning to writing, her jobs included charity chief executive, tree-planter, glamour model, and mortician's receptionist. She has had several hundred short stories and articles published, as well as two non-fiction books.
Kay can be found on www.kaysexton.com