Book Reviews

{Review} BEYOND THE GATE (A Kathy Ryan novel), by Mary SanGiovanni

Published by Lyrical Press Genres: Alien Contact, Cosmic Horror, Dark Fantasy, Dark Fiction, Horror, Lovecraftian, Mystery, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Psychological Horror, Supernatural, Suspense, Women Sleuths
Format: eARC

Kathy Ryan’s work as an occult investigator often leads her to the outskirts of society, law, and even reality…

Knowing that other dimensions exist is one thing. Venturing into them is quite another. In the course of its experiments, Paragon Corp—a government-sourced theoretical physics research institute—has discovered a supposedly empty alternate world. There is strange, alien flora but seemingly no sentient beings…just a huge, abandoned city that a team of scientists is sent to explore.

Then the scientists disappear. Kathy Ryan is hired to make her first foray into an alternate dimension in order to locate the team, bring them back, and close the gate for good. Instead, she discovers that this supposedly dead city may be nothing of the kind. Her rescue mission has become a terrifying race to prevent the potential destruction of the boundary between two worlds—before mayhem reigns over both…

3 Stars.

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Horror After Dark Review

BEYONE THE GATE (A Kathy Ryan novel), is the fourth I’ve read featuring the paranormal specialist, written by author Mary SanGiovanni. While each story is complete on its own and can be read independently of the others, there is a slight build up of personal information that I enjoyed discovering by reading them in order.

The character of Kathy Ryan is complex and mysterious. Little is known outside of the fact that she specializes in occult cult-like activity, that engages in attempts to open “gateways” to other dimensions. Kathy’s job is to keep them closed.

“. . . Kathy Ryan had to sew up a gaping hold into another dimension . . . “ 

We begin in the town of Haversham, with police talking to people from the enigmatic Paragon Corporation about a most disturbing and inexplicable . . . disappearance.

“. . . When you’ve been patrolling Haversham as long as Lefine and I have, you hear it all: Psychotic creatures parading around as nurses over at the hospital, doorways to Hell in the woods, UFO’s, cryptids, even giants . . . “ 

When Kathy gets the call to go down and help, information isn’t rapidly forthcoming. The fact that she was “known” and called to begin with, tells Kathy all she needs to know.

She’s there to clean up someone’s mess.

“. . . The world is strange–stranger than people think. I just do my part to keep it together and sane.” 

Aside from Kathy, I honestly wasn’t very invested in many of the other characters. This could be partly because I love the recurring character, or simply because the others were all second-stage to the expert in this novel.

“. . . We found hell, a quiet kind of hell, and that’s the worst kind . . . “ 

The beginning started out strong, but about a third of the way in, I began to get a little bogged down with a large amount of speculation on what Paragon discovered. Since this was all “new” territory, much of it just didn’t stick with me, or flat-out confused me.

“. . . human beings make terrible witnesses, because they see what they want to, or worse, what they really don’t want to . . . “ 

Overall, while I still love the concept of Kathy Ryan and her occult knowledge, this particular book just felt like it went too far into territory that was overwhelming in terms of names/locations towards the end.

I did enjoy the general idea, and a lot in the beginning of the book. My main issue was that too much “unfamiliar” knowledge was being thrown around, with little chance of really understanding it before even more new concepts were introduced.

“. . . Didn’t gates work both ways? . . . “ 

Still, it was worth it for reading more about Kathy Ryan, herself.

About The Author


Mary SanGiovanni is American horror and thriller writer of over a dozen books, including The Hollower trilogy, Thrall, Savage Woods, and the Kathy Ryan series, as well as numerous short stories and non-fiction. She has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (The Hollower, which has been cited as an inspiration for Slenderman), and the winner of the Lavinia Kohl Award for Excellence in Literature, and the Necon Legend Award. She has the distinction of being one of the first women to speak about writing at the CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA. She has a Masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, Pittsburgh, where she studied under genre greats. She is currently a member of The Authors Guild, The International Thriller Writers, and Penn Writers. Her website is


I am an avid reader/reviewer and collector of books--primarily horror, supernatural, and supernatural-themed thrillers.

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