Cover Image: The Pomegranate Gate

The Pomegranate Gate

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book.

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Me he visto gratamente sorprendida por The Pomegranate Gate, la primera entrega de The Mirror Realm Cycle de Ariel Kaplan. Me llamaba mucho la atención el momento histórico simulado en la historia, con la expulsión de los judíos sefardíes de España, un poco como cuando supe que The Bird King de G. Willow Wilson transcurría en la Alhambra. Pero me he encontrado mucho más de lo que esperaba.


Kaplan ha logrado crear un mundo fantástico repleto de lirismo y magia, con raíces en el judaísmo pero con toques de trascendencia política. La acción se desarrolla simultáneamente en dos mundos, el humano y el mágico de los Maziks, unido solamente durante las noches de luna llena gracias al portal del título. La narración recae principalmente sobre dos personajes (aunque hay más puntos de vista), Toba Peres y Naftaly Cresques, dos seres aparentemente humanos pero tocados por algún don que les hace diferentes a los demás y que en muchas ocasiones les ha condenado al ostracismo. Me gusta la voz que la autora le da a cada uno, dos personas buenas que se ven arrolladas por las circunstancias pero que siguen intentando tomar siempre la decisión adecuada aunque quizá no sea la que más se avenga a sus intereses. La decisión de expulsar a los judíos que no se conviertan al cristianismo de su hogar, impulsará a miles de personas a un viaje sin un destino claro y nuestros dos protagonistas se verán arrastrados por la marea, pero con un fin mucho más inquietante.

Me encanta la representación del mundo mágico de los Maziks, en una imagen especular pero deformada de la geografía y política del mundo humano. Mientras que en uno de los mundos tenemos la Inquisición, en el otro sufren la presencia de La Cacería. Pero en todas partes cuecen habas y las intrigas políticas están a la orden del día y arrastrarán a los dos a una huida en la que irán descubriendo sus especiales capacidades y se aclararán sus orígenes, supuestamente mundanos.


Me gustaría sobre todo hacer hincapié en un personaje secundario que primero parece no tener apenas relevancia, Elena, la abuela de Toba, pero que luego adquiere un rol fundamental. ¡Por fin un personaje femenino de más o menos avanzada edad con importancia en un mundo fantástico! Me apasiona como se referencia la sabiduría popular que muchas veces se desprecia pero que contiene perlas de conocimiento. Mención aparte merece también la señora mayor que ni siquiera recibe nombre en todo el libro pero sin cuya presencia Naftaly estaría totalmente perdido.

La novela va creciendo conforme va avanzando, con unas ramificaciones inesperadas que hacen que sea prácticamente imprescindible leer la segunda entrega no solo para comprender toda la historia si no para continuar disfrutando de las apasionantes aventuras de los personajes. Y es que el último cuarto del libro los componen bofetadas constantes de revelaciones inesperadas que te hacen mirar a los capítulos anteriores con otros ojos. La intriga está muy pero que muy bien utilizada a lo largo de toda la novela, pero como digo esa última parte es de las que te pega a las páginas y te deja sin dormir hasta que acabas de leer. Os recomiendo mucho esta lectura, no os arrepentiréis.

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This is the first book in a Jewish folklore inspired fantasy trilogy. I always love reading about other cultures and oral traditions, and I enjoyed this read as well. Like many other debut, heavy fantasies, this book suffers from some slow pacing issues. I really enjoyed the characters, though. Of course, Naftaly and Toba but also the side characters as well. I'm interested to see where book two will go.

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Ariel Kaplan's The Pomegranate Gate is the first instalment in the Mirror Realm Cycle series. This fantasy series is inspired by the history of the Iberian Peninsula during the High Middle Ages. Specifically by the Spanish Inquisition era and Jewish folklore.

In The Pomegranate Gate Kaplan masterfully blends the history of the Iberian Peninsula, Jewish folklore, mythology and fantasy to create an enthraling unputdownable story with wonderfully complex, flawed and intriguing characters.

The Pomegranate Gate will be perfect for fans of historical fantasy, especially Katherine Arden's Winternight series. The book will also resonate with people who enjoy reading stories steeped in mythology and folklore, especially underrepresented mythologies and folklore.

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i wish i liked fantasy, but i haven’t found a book i click with. this story was interesting but i found myself feeling like it was a chore to get through

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Thank you to the author Ariel Kaplan, publishers Kensington Books and Erewhon Books, and TLC Book Tours, for an advance paperback copy of THE POMEGRANATE GATES. Thank you also to NetGalley for an accomanying widget. All views are mine.

Three (or more) things I loved:

1. The style of the writing is really beautiful! She gives just enough detail, which creates a lovely pace, contemplative and yet comfortably swift, like riding in a boat along a river of her words!

2. I love Naftaly's character trajectory, that he is a dream walker with his father, and the tragedy this leads to for him is staggering! A great turn for the character and the story.

3. I love how she writes the character with visions. It's not stuffed with ableist language and stigma, just the very functional observations that if others knew about his visions, they could misjudge him. Try to thwart his freedom. Excellent writing!

4. These skills are fantastic! This girl can translate the same passage into Italian with one hand and Arabic with the other hand simultaneously!🫨

5. I love the shade character, and I'm really interested to see where it goes in Kaplan's capable hands.

6. Magical Spontaneous Creation of Animal Life? Omg now that is cool. Can't wait to see where this goes!

7. I'm a huge fan of the glossary at the back of the book and the extensive use of Yiddish in the text. This elevates the difficulty, I think, but also the reward level of the read.

Three (or less) things I didn't love:

This section isn't only for criticisms. It's merely for items that I felt something for other than "love" or some interpretation thereof.

1. I'm not a giant fan of giving the cast at the beginning of the book. None of the information relates to the rest, or anything, for the matter, making it impossible to remember. It makes me feel like I'm having a huge cast thrown at me all at once.

2. Honestly, there are a lot of great things about this book, but I got lost a third of the way through. I pushed through to the end because I kept hoping I would find my way and re-engage with the material, but I never did. I finished with a murky idea of what I'd read after a certain point of the storyline.

Rating: 🪄🪄🪄.5 magical skills
Recommend? Yes
Finished: Sep 15 '23
Format: Advance hardback, SMPI, Digital arc, Kindle, NetGalley
Read this book if you like:
✨️ magical skills
🧙 character driven story
🦄 fantasy
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 large cast

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This book took me completely by surprise. Kaplan creates an intriguing, unique magic system that combines Jewish mythology with a version of Arabian mythology set in a fantastical version of Spain during the time of the infamous Spanish Inquisition and expulsions of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula. Kaplan includes so much political intrigue and a large, yet unique and fully developed, cast of characters with relationship reveals that subvert expectation. Kaplan kept me fully engaged and made me eager to read the sequel as soon as I can get my hands on it.

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This is a relatively enjoyable YA read with nicely developed characters. Was impressed by the writing, especially the plot development!

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This story is set during the Spanish Inquisition and features Jewish protagonist. It is the beginning of a fantasy trilogy highlighting Jewish mythology and tradition. Jewish tradition and mythology are deeply embedded in the story. There is a glossary and a list of characters and places, which helps the reader keep track of the many characters and places mentioned. There are a number of “gate cities” and gates between the “real” world and the mirror world of the Maziks, and the titular Pomegranate Gate is one of the gates. Toba and Naftaly are two young people fleeing the Inquisition and they both have connections to the Maziks, although they don’t initially know this. The world-building was terrific.

Thank you to NetGalley and Erewhon Books for the opportunity to read an advance readers copy of this book!

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In The Pomegranate Gate Kaplan builds two parallel worlds. One is based on Inquisition-era Spain. The other, realm of the semi-immortal Maziks, is far more fantastical, and is inspired by Jewish folklore and mysticism. Jews faintly remember Maziks, but as old wives’ tales, except for the humans with intermixed bloodlines who retain traces of magic. Passage between the worlds comes through a gate in a magical pomegranate grove during the full moon. Maziks cannot survive in the human world after the moon sets, but humans can live in either.

The novel’s world-building is rich and fully developed. The complexity of the conspiracies and betrayals will keep readers guessing. A secretive Inquisition-like institution manipulates Mazik kings and society even more disturbingly than the historical one. The plot involves drawing two humans into these poisonous politics, along with the mysterious heirlooms they possess, an amulet and a book, to save this immortal realm from self-destructive autocracy. As the first of a trilogy, the ending leaves some plot elements unresolved.

The two main characters, Toba and Naftaly, are humans with Mazik connections they do not understand. They are both endearingly quirky and faulty. For example, “Naftaly was a tailor…somewhat lacking in his ability to perform basic tasks, such as sewing in a straight line. His father insisted he would improve. It did not seem to matter much to the trajectory of his life that he had not done so…What he wanted, more than anything, was to be a help to his parents rather than a hindrance, but he’d failed rather spectacularly in that regard.” Being heroic is the last thing either would expect of themselves, and yet both win over other characters’ loyalties and the reader’s heart.

This trilogy will appeal most to readers who recognize its clever uses of Jewish lore, but it’s top-notch for all readers of historical fantasy.

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I enjoyed this book, but it was definitely a slower pace. I liked the mystery in the magical realm and the Jewish folklore included inn the story. I wish it had moved faster and kept my attention a bit better.

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This was a really compelling and beautifully written tale with a great setting and well drawn characters. I thought the character interactions were fabulous, particularly between Barsilay and Naftaly, Naftaly and the Old Woman and Toba Bet and Asmel. There was a lot going on plot-wise, but the narrative was clear and the author did a good job at keeping everything neatly packaged. Similarly, there is a lot of political intrigue, both in the human and the Mazik realms and I feel that this will continue to expand over the course of book 2. Overall, I found this to be an original and entertaining read and I will definitely be picking up the sequel.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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"The Pomegranate Gate" is the first in a series of an epic fantasy that is inspired by Jewish folklore. It takes place in Seafarad, which is a mythical version of Spain during the time of the inquisition. This is a portal fantasy as the main character Toba accidentally goes through a magical gate and arrives into another world. She meets Naftaly who is protecting a magical book (passed down in his family) that he is not allowed to read. The two of them go on many adventures together.
My favorite aspect of this book is the found family and the character development. The backstory added to my love of the characters. The magic system was intriguing as well.
The prose was well done, but the pace was a bit slow for me and the book was a bit long. I wanted to know what would happen next, but it just took awhile for it to get there.
My thanks to NetGalley for a review copy.

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DNF because it wasn't holding my attention, but I may try again as an audiobook at a later date.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you Netgalley, author, and the publishers for allowing me the opportunity to read this e-arc. I look forward to reading more.

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I did not finish at about 30%, I just couldn't stay engaged in the story. The premise seemed promising and I hope others enjoy it.

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I think this is an underrated book that more people should read. There are less than 1k reviews on goodreads and it was pretty good!! Is it the best adult fantasy I've read? No. But I still immensely enjoyed it and think more people should read it. Again, I wish books would be shorter though. I swear, every book I look at is over 450 pages when they definitely don't need to be. I understand that fantasies are different, but still.

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I fell in love with pomegranates, both the fruit and its depictions, while in Israel in 2018. I wound up buying a set of Shabbat candlesticks engraved with pomegranates along with some artwork while we were there. Also, one of my sons lives in Los Angeles and his neighbor has a pomegranate tree - and we recently got to sample one right from the tree! So when I saw a fantasy book called The Pomegranate Gate, which imagines a fantasy-Spain during the Inquisition and featuring Jewish protagonists, I jumped at the chance to read it. The length of the book (almost 600 pages) intimidated me a bit, but I finally settled down to both read and listen to it (audiobooks are the best!) and I was not disappointed. I got absorbed in the complex story line quickly.

The Pomegranate Gate is an intriguing beginning to an expected fantasy trilogy highlighting Jewish mythology and tradition. It imagines not only an alternate/ fantasy Spain (Sefarad) during the Inquisition (late 1400s) but also a mirror realm. The portions of the story set in the “real” world could be considered magical realism, which is one of my favorite genres, but the mirror world features Maziks, who look mostly human but are not mortal and have extensive magical powers, making this more a “high fantasy” story.

Jewish tradition and mythology are deeply embedded in the story. There is a glossary and a list of characters and places, which helps the reader keep track of the many characters and places mentioned. (It still was a bit hard to keep them all straight.) A little knowledge of Hebrew (even just a smidge of “prayer book Hebrew”) will enhance things, but isn’t necessary. For example, there’s a character referred to as Adon Sof’rim, which translates to Lord of Books. There are references to mikveh, tzitzit and other Jewish traditions and practices along the way.

There are a number of “gate cities” and gates between the “real” world and the mirror world of the Maziks, and the titular Pomegranate Gate is one of the gates. Toba and Naftaly are two young people fleeing the Inquisition and they both have connections to the Maziks, although they don’t initially know this. Some of the side characters are wonderful, especially the woman only referred to as “the old woman.” She is feisty and funny. The world-building was terrific.

Thank you to NetGalley and Erewhon Books for the opportunity to read an advance readers copy of this book, although I was rather late to it. I bounced between the ARC and the published audiobook, courtesy of my public library. The narrator, Vivienne Leheny, did a great job with the various voices and accents. All opinions are my own.

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The Pomegranate Gate was an interesting read. I stayed interested in the storyline through the whole book but it felt dragged out and too long. It could have been shortened. I liked Toba's character but once Toba Bot came again I preferred her. Naftaly's character was okay. He felt his character building was lacking. I am not sure what else I could say because this was a good book, but it could have been shorter.

I will probably continue with the series or at least read the next book because the ending of The Pomegranate Gate indicated the real action will be in book 2.
Thank you Erewhon Books and NetGalley for a complimentary copy of The Pomegranate Gate.

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I really wanted to enjoy this. It sounds exactly like the kind of book that I would really connect with. For some reason I just could not connect with the world and characters.

I genuinely believe this is an issue with myself, and much less with the book itself. I will say the beginning of the book is complex but no more so than The Night Circus or The Starless Sea. The prose is lyrical and gorgeous, but I never felt the desire to continue reading the book. It was far too easy to put down, and for that reason I did not finish it.

I definitely think this will find its audience, especially those who enjoy atmospheric “vibey” kind of books. I’m hopeful that I will be able to give this another chance at some point, and if I do I will update my review.

3/5 stars for the beauty and prose

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