First up, I'd like to thank Darkfallen and Greta from Paranormal Wastelands for inviting me to be part of the Bloggerhood of the Traveling book. When I heard about this I thought it would be fun and that the book sounded really interesting. I'm so glad I've had the opportunity to read The Key.
But no signature would guarantee that I would or would not read or like this book. And considering that Canadian postage is costly -- I'll likely pay $10 to ship this to the next stop -- it's only the amount of confidence I have in knowing what I find interesting, combined with the fact that I value Dark and Greta's opinion on books, that let me decide to do this.
How did it go? In short, I'm so glad that I did! My message inside of the key reads: "A delightful tale. I loved it!" Now let me tell all of you why.
The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
A teenage girl suffering from a family tragedy, Maddie Clevenger is oblivious to the ancient mystery surrounding her. She’s young and incredibly unlucky, in life and in love. She should be enjoying her senior year of high school, but instead she is tormented by a reoccurring nightmare and a very real stalker. But all that changes when Chase Donovan, an Air Force brat with a protective streak, shows up at school. Will Chase be the key to helping her solve her stalker problem? Will he be the key to solving the mystery surrounding her family’s past?
The summary is adequate, but it really does not do this book justice. The Key has one of the most interesting and original mythologies that I have ever read, combined with mythological beings that are a far cry from your typical vampire / werewolf / zombie staples which tend to populate this genre. I felt that Felicia Rogers' choice here was absolutely genius and both her creature selection and the mythology she built for them enriched the novel in every imaginable way.
The story starts at word go and never lets up. The chapters a short and sweet, leading the reader to fly through the pages without effort and allowing the story, which is told in several different characters points of view, to be where it needs to be at every key moment without causing a lot of jarring or "who am I with now?" that might have plagued it if the chapters had been handled differently.
The various things going on in the book -- the mysteries, the pace at which the mythology is introduced, the romance between Maddie and Chase, the growth of Dougal's character -- all blended together flawlessly for me. I was always curious about something and I was never bored. Truthfully, I read this book in two sittings and only stopped because I was tired. I could not put it down.
An extremely interesting and likable cast further add to the appeal of The Key.
Maddie is a pretty normal girl and I feel that most readers would find her easy to relate to. She is having trouble fitting in at her new school, ends up with a pretty creepy stalker (who is even more creepy as things move along...) and then has a new guy come to her rescue. Despite all of the craziness going on in her life, I felt that for the most part Maddie held together pretty well. She is not the most active heroine that I have ever read about, but she was not hopelessly passive, either. It's more that she does not realize what she is in the beginning. As her life changes and things become clearer she begins to take a more direct role in what is happening.
I liked Chase right away. Felicia Rogers did a fantastic job of making me genuinely like him despite the fact that the plot requires him to "auto-pilot like" Maddie. Yes, I am telling you there is insta-love here. Despite this, Chase comes across as a very genuine character who really cares about Maddie and I found myself cheering for them, and for him as he discovers what is causing the pull between them and his destiny. I think that was one of the neat things for me. Chase does not start out as some type of supernatural bad-ass creature. He has a special gift and he has to figure out what it is during the book.
And my character praise would not be complete if I didn't talk about Dougal. Is he the world's creepiest stalker? You betcha. But as we learn more about him, and the truth of his past and his future, it is hard not to feel for him. I don't want to get totally into all of the "whys" here, because that would involve spoilers, but yet again Felicia Rogers shows that she is great at letting her characters grow, even when the character in question is the villain. I have to applaud that very loud, because that's not easy.
Warning: here be insta-love. There. I gave you a heads up. I must also tell you, though, that since this story reads more like a detailed fairytale / myth / legend that the presence of insta-love did not bother me, especially since it was not instant on the part of both characters. The timeline for the story was very compact, which tends to make insta-love feel even more instant. But yet again, in the kind of story that The Key is, that tends to make sense.
I like the fact that both Maddie and Chase did question the attraction that was pulling them together. While for a large part they did go with it, they also realized that something strange was going on and eventually they do find out what that is. (Which leads to how real what they are feeling is, which is well addressed and handled.) The romance and the mythology are so carefully intertwined that there is no way that one could survive without the other, so this is very much a take it or leave it situation.
There is also an aspect of the romance that plays very heavily on dramatic irony and this is very well done. (I can't tell you specifically what happens, but it ties into Chase's paranormal element.) This leads them to a bit of trouble down the road that allows what they feel about each other to grow further as their trust in each other is strengthened.
Lastly, I liked how the present day situation parallels what happened in the past. I felt that this aspect of the romance, which tied it, the main plot and the mythology together, was absolutely brilliant.
I loved The Key. It had a lot of the elements that I enjoy in a story: great world building and mythology, likable characters, a sweet and memorable romance and a plot that held my interest and kept me turning the pages. I will definitely be checking out more work by Felicia Rogers.