Book Review -The Mahogany Door and Interview with Author J. Mark Boliek

The Mahogany Door: Book 1 of the Bruinduer Narrative

By J. Mark Boliek

355 pages – Ages 9+

Published in 2011 by Split Rail Books

First my review of the book then READ ON for an interview with Mr. Boliek!

What would you do if you could save someone who was lost in a different world? Years ago, JT, Kali, Michael and Charlie traveled to the world of Bruinduer through The Mahogany Door, a magical portal. The friends thought Charlie died in Bruinduer, but he didn’t. He is just trapped and the others now realize it and they vow to get him back. JT, Kali and Michael have to travel back through The Mahogany Door. They’ll face old enemies, fight in a war, cross a desert, have to find trust in Billy (their guide in Bruinduer) and convince Charlie (who wasn’t happy to see them) to come back home.

I have to say, when I first started into the story I thought it was going to be too much like the Witch, Lion and the Wardrobe, but it wasn’t. The story of The Mahogany Door is unique. The story really kept me reading (seriously, I couldn’t put the book down (see my Dad’s comments below)). I like how the book is told by a narrator telling the story to young kids.  The reading level was good for 9+ readers and there really are no parts that are slow. There are also some nice illustrations throughout the book.  I recommend it to everyone!!!!! The book leaves open questions like -Who is the man telling the story? -Why did Kali leave? -What’s with Billy? Hopefully these questions will be answered in the next book in the series -Kali’s Regress!

PLUS not only can you enjoy The Mahogany Door book, you can you get a music CD with songs about the book. The songs are really great, my favorite is called “Rear View Mirror” . You can listen to the music by clicking HERE. Also an enhanced version of the eBook is available at the iBook store  (iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch) where the songs are embedded in the book and the reader can play the song when they get to the song’s assigned chapter. How cool is that?!?  To learn more about The Mahogany Door, J. Mark Boliek and the music please visit J. Mark Boliek’s website by clicking HERE.You can purchase the book and CD on Mr. Boliek’s website or at The Regulator Book Shop by clicking HERE

I give it 5 out of 5 book worms!

DAD’S COMMENTS -I really did not like this book because my son ignored everything I said when he was reading it. The book got him into a lot of trouble because he couldn’t keep his nose out of it. (Seriously, a book that can keep a nine-year-old engaged for that amount of time has to be good!)

I liked the Mahogany Door so much that I asked Mr. Boliek if he would answer some questions about his book and music. He was very nice to let me do the interview. READ ON!!! 🙂

   I really enjoyed the CD that came along with the book (my favorite song is “Rear View Mirror”). So which came first, your idea about the book or the music?

The book was definitely first, then the music. I created the soundtrack for the book as a way to create something new in the world I developed and as a way I can relate even more with my audience. I listen to a lot of music as I write, and there are many songs that influence me, and I know that the audience that I want to reach also enjoys music. My wife has a
master’s in music degree and my brother-in-law is a wonderful musician. I noticed that my family and friends not only love or play music, but we also love to write it. Two and two together, we tried to capture the characters in song, and I hope we did a good job with it.

“The Mahogany Door” was an awesome story. I read on your website that you had the story in your head for a long time. What made you finally write it down? Did you always think that you would write it as a kids book?

Not to sound too sappy, but it was a story that I just had to write. And what is even more interesting is that the story in its form now is very different from the original idea. The plot has changed multiple times as I have lived more and more of my life. I also had not planned on writing it as a kid’s book. There are some very dark themes in the story, and as I first wrote, it was very much an adult tale. It had a lot of Stephen King influence in it. After the events of September 11, 2001 happened, I made it more kid friendly, because many kids born after the terrorist attacks on that day would see the world as a different place than it was when I grew up. I wanted kids to know or at least have the sense that even though bad things might happen, there is still a lot of good in the world, and our futures are what we make of them. I also would like for it to be a story families can share together.

 Your book has a lot of symbolism in it. What does Bruinduer represent and where did you come up with the name for Warhead Dale?

Bruinduer – is a Dutch Afrikan word that means “Brown Door”. A door represents choices that we make every day. We have the choice to walk out of the front door and make the world what we want it to be. Maybe not form it quite like Michael and the characters do in the book, but we can decide whether we are going to make it good or not so good. It can also represent the opening to one’s soul, the heart so to speak, in this personal case, an opening to my soul and how I have had conflicts with some of the choices I have made in my life.

Warhead Dale is a play on words. A Beachhead is a military term that describes a line that is protected on a beachfront until reinforcements can arrive and after that the unit can then move forward to advance on its enemy.  “Beachhead Dale” really didn’t sound all that good, so as Beachhead is a military term, I replaced, “Beach” with “War” and thought it sounded better. A dale is just a valley of sorts. It represents the place where JT, Kali, and Michael begin their fight to save Bruinduer. It also plays a larger role – but it would take a long time to explain it, but you will find out more in books 2 and 3.

What’s with Billy? He’s really mean in Michael, JT and Kali’s dreams and pretty nice in real life.

Billy represents 2 things. There is a very distinct difference between perception and reality. As I was younger, Religion and God (spirituality) made a lot of sense to me. It was very cool going to Sunday School and my youth group. As I got older, a lot of bad stuff happened in my life, and a lot of that bad stuff that happened, I blamed God for. Religion didn’t seem like such a cool thing to me anymore. As I started taking my journey with faith when I got older, I did not recognize a lot of what religion stood for or what God was so the journey became very scary for me. As I got a little further down my path I started to realize that God had not really changed – my perception of him had.  As you see through the book, the trio see God as something that may want to hurt them and is very mean and scary, but as they travel through Bruinduer, they realize that he is trying to help them – all they have to do is listen.
So first, Billy Represents God and religion in my personal life. The second thing that he represents is pure motivation. If I did not have Billy screaming at the trio in their dreams, there may not have been any reason for them to make the trip to Warhead Dale – and with that, I would not have had a story. 🙂

 I really enjoyed “The Mahogany Door” and I am happy to see that the sequel “Kali’s Regress” is in the works. What do you hope readers learn or find in your books and music?

I really hope that readers have as much fun reading the books and listening to the music as I have writing the stories and songs. If readers take more out of the stories than that, then I am very happy about that too.

**Thank you Mr. Boliek!!**

Categories: Age 9+, Good Books

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7 replies

  1. Looks like I’d love this one! It’s definitely going on my must-read list. And maybe it will give me license to ignore my kids for a few hours. 😉

    Great job on the interview.

  2. This sounds like a good book. I listened to the music and I liked it.

  3. It’s cool how you interview authors! Good Job! Hopefully someday I will be able to on the Sir Books-a-lot blog.

    • All I do is ask for an interview and they usually say yes because they are really nice! So you should try it (with your parents permission). Just e-mail an author (mostly a favorite author that you have read their book) and ask to do an interview!

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