The Return of the Key

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The Return of the Key

Last Free Dates: 11th Feb 15 to 15th Feb 15
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...Modern themes crossed with old ideas produce a charming, intriguing fantasy, great for younger readers and good for older ones too. ...

As the election sparks racial violence in Trinidad, sixteen-year-old Eliza and her grandmother take sanctuary in South England. Eliza, whose parents were from different feuding groups, quickly finds the sleepy little town she’s now moved to has its own perils. People have gone missing, a fishing boat swamped at sea, and after an encounter with an intruder Eliza finds herself torn between two worlds – and holding the key to the fate of both.

Traditional English folklore interweaves with the tale of a modern, mixed-race, girl escaping her homeland to create a gripping adventure. Perfect for younger readers, it held this older one enthralled. “The Return of the Key” reminds me of Susan Cooper’s “The Dark is Rising” series, and that is no minor praise.

Eliza is intelligent and likeable, not given to self-pity and a very strong lead character. Her interactions with Gwen, her new best friend, are a joy. The constant theme of being caught in the middle – between Trinidad and England, dreams and reality, and the two halves of her racial heritage – really make Eliza stand out as a character and a heroine. This isn’t just a quest between worlds, it is her quest to find her place in these worlds.

It is hard to discuss why this book is so good without spoiling it. The writing is good, the story well-paced, and there are no obvious typos, spelling mistakes, or grammar errors. It is written in an older style with occasional asides to the reader e.g. “Eliza could not have known…” which works very well with the fairy-tale elements of the story.

The only reason this is not a five is that there are occasional formatting errors where a sentence splits to a new line in the middle, and because one crucial scene takes place off-screen – you see the results, but not the action – and while it is nice it didn’t slow the pacing down, without that scene the ending feels a little rushed.

Modern themes crossed with old ideas produce a charming, intriguing fantasy, great for younger readers and good for older ones too. If this author can keep the standards up for her next book, she will be one to watch.

This book was featured in the newspaper column - click for details
Rating: 4
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