This is my second time entering the BBNYA and honestly first off, I’d just like to recommend it to all small press and indie authors. With an entrance fee of €20, it’s relatively affordable compared to most contests, and they do a wonderful job of getting their entrants exposure even if you’re not a finalist. Also, if you don’t make it to the finals, you can still get the judges’ feedback on your excerpt. (2k words for the first round and 10k words for the second)

Odriel’s Heirs was a fifth place finalist in the 2021 BBNYA, so it got in on blog tours and reviews, but since The Gatekeeper of Pericael was only a semifinalist in 2022 BBNYA, they sent me feedback on my first 10k words. And I really love it because I think it showcases how differently people can feel about the same book. So I wanted to share it because I think it really emphasizes the need for more than one beta reader or critique partner, and I also think it helps give perspective when you get rough reviews, because yeah, your books not for everyone. But some people will love it, and that’s still amazingly cool.

What our panelists thought

(To be clear, each judge wrote one bullet in each section):
Writing Style

  • Good, enjoyable. Gets stronger/better as it goes on.
  • Nice use of description. The language used for some of the descriptive passages is beautiful and really evokes the feelings of the magical jungle.
  • A little shaky at the start with a bit of extra ‘explaining’ thrown in, but settled down later in the extract
  • So good. I was sucked into this story right away, and even though a lot of information was introduced, it was done so well that I constantly understood everything that was happening without any confusion, brilliant!
  • Easy to read, very descriptive, easy to get drawn into.


  • Definitely feels unique and intriguing
  • Feels a little old for mid-grade in some parts but too young for teens in others
  • I wasn’t sure at the start but was gripped by the end of the extract
  • Quite interesting
  • I really enjoyed this and felt so engrossed in the story throughout.  It’s very original and so interesting! I’m desperate to find out what happens next, especially as the excerpt finished in the middle of a dramatic scene
  • Loving the story so far. I’m curious about the worldbuilding and the magic system. The story feels original so far. Would read on


  • Porter as a MC is a bit flat right now, but I’m invested
  • Anyone knows when summoning ANYTHING, you don’t insult them. Porter should have known better. This annoyed me.  Ames is fun though
  • I really liked Porter
  • Excellent characters
  • Good characters and they are all different.  Especially enjoy the different characters reacting to each other

Emotional Response

  • I don’t really feel that invested in the story. Perhaps I’ve picked up Porter’s distaste for the magical land. If the MC doesn’t care, it’s hard for the reader.
  • I cared about what was happening with Porter and Ames
  • Characters made for you to easily emotionally respond too
  • I just loved this so much.  It felt exciting, compelling and interesting too.


  • Good balance of various elements, intriguing storyline, feels like a refreshing portal fantasy.
  • I’d like to give it a higher rating, but we have been given a whole lot of worldbuilding very quickly with not a lot of motivation or emotion.
  • An interesting book that has great characters
  • A good solid book.
  • So good!!  Would rate higher if I could. It’s so brilliant, I enjoyed it so much 🙂

Thanks so much to the BBNYA for this amazing feedback, and I can’t wait to hear what the judges think of Idriel’s Children this year!

Upper Middle Grade is so hard to market, so I’m so incredibly grateful for any feedback. Thanks again, BBNYA

2 thoughts on “Book Blogger Novel of the Year Award Feedback – The Gatekeeper of Pericael

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