“Full of dark mystery and unexpected twists.” Meg Kassel, author of Keeper of the Bees
A sound awakens her. There's darkness all around. And then she's falling...
She has no idea who or where she is. Or why she's dead. The only clue to her identity hangs around her neck: a single rusted key. This is how she and the others receive their namesfrom whatever belongings they had when they fell out of their graves. Under is a place of dirt and secrets, and Key is determined to discover the truth of her past in order to escape it.
She needs help, but who can she trust? Ribbon seems content in Under, uninterested in finding answers. Doll’s silence hints at deep sorrow, which could be why she doesn't utter a word. There's Smoke, the boy with a fierceness that rivals even the living. And Journal, who stays apart from everyone else. Key's instincts tell her there is something remarkable about each of them, even if she can't remember why.
Then the murders start. Bodies that are burned to a crisp. And after being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she wasand what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hiddenbefore she loses her life for good…
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Kelsey Sutton is the author of The Lonely Ones, a middle-grade novel in verse that received a starred review from Kirkus. She is also the author of Some Quiet Place, and its companion novel Where Silence Gathers, both published by Flux. She is also the author of the YA e-book original GARDENIA.
Read an Excerpt
A voice penetrates the silence.
At first, it's just a string of syllables without meaning. I float in the unending darkness, disoriented and drowsy. The voice calls to me again. Frowning, I try to concentrate. When it comes a third time, I finally understand some of what it's saying. Wake up.
My eyes fly open.
Darkness surrounds me. The voice reaches out a fourth time, still muffled but easier to comprehend now. Please wake up, it's pleading. At last I try to answer; the only sound that emerges from my throat is an odd grunt. The beginnings of hysteria stir within me. All right, I think. Be logical. Find out where you are.
Slowly, I work out that I'm lying down. Whatever is against my back and shoulders is plush and foul smelling. I lift my hands, blinking, and touch a smooth ceiling. What is this place? How did I come to be here?
I strain to hear the voice, but it's gone. Now confusion gives way to fear and my hands become fists. I shove at the ceiling — it doesn't move. A frenzy overtakes me as I begin hitting it. The grunt has progressed to a hoarse shout. Wherever I am is so quiet, so still that I know I'm alone. Panic burns through my veins and I attempt to roll over in the tiny space, kicking and clawing. Then someone screams, "Let me out!"
It takes a moment to recognize that it's my own voice, weak and rough. Suddenly a new sound vibrates through the stillness, a thundering crack.
Then I'm falling.
Air rushes past me. Acting on instinct, I spread my limbs out in a wild attempt to save myself, but there's nothing to latch onto. Faint lights shine below. I blink, too shocked to scream again. The ground — or whatever awaits at the bottom — approaches rapidly. I glance backward and see long hair and a skirt flapping like a sheet in the wind.
There's no time to notice anything else; I'm seconds away from the ground. Somehow I think through the panic and curl up into a ball to brace for impact. I do so just in time, and as I crash down, the entire world trembles. Earth billows up around me, and a shock goes through my limbs. There's not as much pain as there should be, though, only a slight disturbance on the skin and bones I landed on.
Trembling, I open one eye and watch the dust settle. A thousand questions churn in my mind as I uncurl and look around.
"Hello? Is s-someone there?" I manage to whisper. The words shake so badly even I can hardly understand them. I'm sitting in what appears to be a narrow alley. Everything is dirt, even the walls on either side. Lit torches appear sporadically, giving this frightening place an orange tint. The small flames sputter every few seconds, and it's the only sound I detect around me. A faint musty smell fills my nose. I push myself up on unsteady legs and turn in a circle, searching for anything familiar or living. I cup my elbows to protect myself from terror rather than cold.
"Hello?" I call again, louder this time.
There's movement out of the corner of my eye and I spin toward it. A face peers around the edge of the doorway. One of the torches is directly above it, casting flickering shadows over the little girl's face. I recoil instinctively, gasping, and the girl vanishes back into the house-like structure made entirely of earth.
But it's too late. I saw her. I saw the way her eye dangled from its socket and how her skin was half withered away.
I retreat until my back hits the wall behind me. This is a dream, I think faintly. So I squeeze my eyes shut and will myself to wake up. Nothing changes, though. Intending to run from this place and the appalling girl, I slide away from the wall and into the path.
"She won't hurt you. Doll's afraid of her own shadow," a voice drones.
I let out a small cry and stagger back yet again. This time my heel catches on something and I land hard on my bottom. I frantically search for the speaker. The words came from another doorway, one opposite where I spotted the young girl. No one else appears, though, and it takes several attempts to speak again. "Who's there?" I squeak.
Seconds pass. Then the same voice answers, "No one."
His tone is so reasonable, so indifferent, that I'm able to gather my thoughts. Perhaps this person can help me? Swallowing, I strain to see in the gloom. "If n-no one's there, then how are you talking to me?" I challenge, finding a bit of courage.
"Perhaps you're talking to yourself."
Instead of responding, I get to my feet. I dare to step closer, and when nothing leaps out or attacks, I take another. There is someone beyond the threshold — the light is just enough that I can make out the details of his appearance. It's a boy.
He sits in a wooden chair, bent forward, wrists dangling atop his knees. Between two of his fingers is a single, unlit cigar. The holder containing it is lovely, shining white like a pearl, the edges adorned with carvings. As for the boy himself, his features are hidden, but I can see a shock of blue-black hair against the back of his neck and curling over his ear. His profile is lithe and ... sad, somehow.
"Who are you?" I whisper, stopping again.
The boy doesn't react. "Weren't you listening?" he asks without glancing up, as though he's carrying on a conversation with the dirt. His accent is distinctly American. "I'm no one. We're all no one."
"I'm someone," I say without thinking. It doesn't make any sense, because of course I am, but suddenly I need to prove it's true.
An odd sound escapes him, something that is more bark than laugh. The edges of it are sharp and mocking. "Oh, really? Then what's your name?" Now his head tilts slightly in my direction, though not completely.
Curious, in spite of the alarming strangeness all around me, I fiddle with my skirts and resist the temptation to move even closer. "It's ..." I begin, then trail off. This shouldn't be a difficult question. Yet I don't remember. It's a sensation similar to fumbling in the dark, reaching for an item that should've been there, and finding empty air. How can I not know my own name? Everything has a name. I can tell him what the oceans and continents of the world are called, so why can't I recall that one word that defines the entirety of my being?
The boy lets me struggle for a few seconds. "See?" He doesn't sound smug, just resigned. He still doesn't turn. I want him to see me, to say that this is a terrible nightmare. There's a bleak feeling spreading through my chest, a sinking sensation, because there can't possibly be any good answers to the question I'm about to ask.
"Where are we?"
The torch closest to us is dying. It makes a pathetic sound, and I'm so distracted by the dwindling flames that I almost don't hear the boy. "... one of those, are you? Need to have everything said out loud." I wait for him to go on, refusing to rise to the bait, and he sighs. He puts the cigar to his nose and takes a long inhale. "You're dead, darlin'. This isn't hell, but it's the next best thing."
"You're lying," I manage, frozen despite everything inside me urging me to run.
His shoulders lift in a careless shrug. "Wish I was."
"I think I would remember dying."
"Not in this place, you wouldn't. No one remembers anything here. Also, why don't you try finding a heartbeat? Go on. I'll wait."
My hands rise of their own volition. The skin they flatten against is cold. Too cold, I think numbly. I stand there, waiting, praying to sense that steady thump, thump, thump.
It feels like my lungs are swelling, horror trapping all the air and protests. In that instant, I realize I'm not breathing. The corset; it must be too tight. Disregarding rules of propriety, I reach behind me to undo the strings. The dress hinders every effort, but I stubbornly keep at it. When the stillness lingers too long, the boy finally looks at me. "You don't need to breathe ..." he starts to say, impatience coloring the words. Our gazes clash.
Every thought I have vanishes. I nearly bolt again. The boy is pale ... too pale for someone living. His eyes are a too-light shade of blue and his lips are nearly white. His shirt is buttoned up the front but open at the collar, revealing the raised tissue across his throat and the line of stitches closing it up.
No one would survive a wound like that.
A sound of terror escapes me as I retreat. The boy studies my face, and now there's obvious interest in his expression.
"Wait —" he starts.
He says something else, but his words are overpowered by the roaring in my ears. There's no sign of the little girl as I burst out of the alleyway and into another. There are more doorways, more torches, more moving things in the darkness. It's a maze.
Mindless with terror, I sob and stumble along. "Help! Please, help! Anybody —"
My face slams into a wall.
No, not a wall. "What we 'ave 'ere?" a new, deep voice rumbles above my head. The brogue of someone who works in fields and has calluses on his hands. Fingers catch hold of me, huge and rough, and I scream as I try to yank free. The grip on my arms tightens as though I'm no stronger than a child. The man pins me with one hand and explores my face with his other — I'm so shocked that the next scream catches in my throat. An acrid smell assails every sense. Before I can look up or demand release, he continues. "Aye, dis is a new bake. Boys, come greet our latest arrival! Gracious, you're a juicy lassie."
Indignation shines through the terror fogging my mind. "Let go of me!" I finally snap, flattening my fists against the man's chest to put distance between us. I kick at his shins, and he chuckles. Torches approach from every side, held aloft by hands of all shapes and sizes. My gaze flicks over the people surrounding us, and colored spots mar my vision when I see the various states of decay they're in. Exposed tissue and gaping teeth and flapping skin.
I shriek yet again, a high and piercing sound. Then I happen to catch a glimpse of my captor's face, and I go mute with horror.
He might have been a man, once. But what I see now is purely a monster. His skin is charred and peeling, his scalp red and shining. The tips of his fingers and ears and nose are missing, and he has no eyes. Empty sockets leer down at me.
I open my mouth to scream again.
"Let her go, Splinter."
Through my terror, I recognize that voice — it's the boy with the unlit cigar. Several moments go by as I search for him in the crowd. Eventually I see his silhouette leaning against one of the dirt buildings close by, hands shoved in his pockets. That cigar dangles from his lips.
"An' if I don't?" the hideous Irishman snaps. Seconds tick by, thick with tension. The boy doesn't say a word; he just stares. Slowly, the steel grip around my middle relents. The man spits on the ground next to my foot. Or, at least, he tries to — nothing leaves his mouth. "Was just a bit o' fun. Not much else to do round 'ere." He stomps off.
Some of the creatures still eye me with curiosity. So much pale skin. So many dark eyes. My stomach quakes when I realize there's nowhere to run.
After another moment, the boy shoves off the wall, pocketing his cigar. The moment he approaches, the crowd begins to disperse, taking their torches with them. Like black iron, they meld with the darkness. One of them hesitates, though, and glances back at me. A man in rags who's less rotten than the others. The hair at his temples is a distinguished gray and there's a slight limp to his step. Our gazes meet for an instant, and then he's gone.
The boy reaches my side and touches my elbow. "Are you all right?"
It's too soon after being assaulted by that monster. I jerk away. "Don't touch me!"
He eases back and puts some distance between us. "Are you all right?" he repeats carefully.
I push my hair out of my face, shaking so badly that there's no way to hide it. "Yes, I'm fine. Just fine." No matter how many times I say the words, they don't become true. He waits, giving me a chance to regain my composure. Eventually I can think again, and the need for answers intensifies. "You said this is hell?" I whisper, keeping my focus on the direction the creatures disappeared.
Now I believe it.
I can feel the boy looking at me as he answers. "Well, we call it Under."
At this, I frown. "Why —"
Obeying, I arch my neck back. Instead of sky, there's a ceiling, of sorts. More dirt and what appear to be tree roots. Scattered among these roots are splotches of shadow, though it's too far away to tell their purpose or origin. "What are those?"
"Those are the holes each of us fell through. Our graves are right over them."
The word graves jars something within me, and suddenly everything makes sense. Opening my eyes in that dark, soft space. The closeness of those smooth walls, the muffled noises above. Something cracking beneath me. Then soaring through open air and hitting the ground.
It was a grave. My grave.
He's telling the truth.
If I had any food in my stomach, it would be surging up right now.
Tearing away from the sight of those holes, I face the boy. I know I should thank him for saving me from Splinter, but there are too many questions to ask. "So this is it? This is the afterlife?" My voice is faint. I want him to lie to me. I want him to tell me there's something more, something better. Whoever I was in life must have spent time in a church, because I find the thought of wooden pews and stained-glass windows comforting.
But he only shrugs again. "For some, I suppose. Judging from the size of the graveyard and the number of holes above us, there are many who don't fall."
"If that's true, why did we?"
"Who knows? Maybe it's unfinished business. Or it only takes a particularly loud noise. Or we're just too stupid to stay dead." He begins to walk, and after a brief hesitation, I hurry to follow. Splinter might come back, or some other creature from a nightmare, and this boy has proven to be an excellent protector. His long-legged strides make me break into a run to keep up. The space is so narrow that our arms brush.
Neither of us attempts conversation, and I realize this place isn't as quiet as it seemed in the beginning. There are sounds echoing through the giant cavern. A laugh, a hiss, a whisper. A reminder there are monsters here. How can I know that this boy isn't one of them? He did save you, a tiny voice reminds me.
Glancing at him sidelong, I find his profile is appealing. His eyelashes are long and dark. He has a generous mouth. Upon our first meeting, I remember with some shame, I'd been too horrified by the wound across his throat to notice anything else. "What's your name?" I blurt. He raises a thick brow at me, and I bite my lip. "I mean, what do they call you here?" After a long moment, he murmurs, "Smoke."
I'm about to reply when I recognize where we are. We've reached the location where I fell; the indent my body made is in the dirt. There are the doorways where Doll peered out and I first encountered Smoke.
Now that I'm not running from something, there's more time to absorb this place. In every direction, there are crude houses of dirt with no spaces between them, as if the occupants were trying to create a city. There are no cobblestones or carriages, no trees or signs. Just passages that end in darkness and these earthen homes. But if I squint just so, it's easy to imagine a sky beyond the line of roofs, the faint colors of dawn.
Eventually I realize not all of the structures are the same — some of them have square openings next to the doorways, crude imitations of windows. Of course there's no glass, though. There must be torches inside a few of the dwellings, because shadows dance on the ground, cast by gentle flickers from within. In a way, it's almost comforting.
While I examine our surroundings, my eyes feeling so huge they might as well swallow the rest of my face, Smoke watches me. "You'll have to pick one of your own, you know," he says. "A name, I mean. Usually we just use whatever we fell into Under with. Splinter, Smoke, Doll."
Something we fell into Under with? Unconsciously, I run my hands over my stomach and sides and thighs, searching for any kind of pocket. His eyes track the movements, an odd tightness to his mouth. My hands halt and I wonder if it's possible for the dead to blush. But now I know there's nothing else on my person besides the dress.
For the first time, I notice a weight against my skin, near the center of my chest. I reach for it ... and my fingers collide with something curved and hard. It hangs from a chain around my neck and glints gold in the firelight.
Smoke smiles, a ghost of what a smile should be. "Nice to meet you, Key. Welcome to Under."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Smoke and Key"
Copyright © 2019 Kelsey Sutton.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
First let’s just gush over the beautiful cover. Funny how a beautiful cover can draw a person in to buy a book. But not only that, the synopsis of this book made me want to read it, so different and original. A group of characters who are named after the possession they carried with them to Under when they died…oh and they are all dead. There is Smoke and Key (ah the name of the book) and Ribbon, Journal, Doll, and Tintype to name just some of the characters. They have all fallen from their graves to Under, but are all being killed, again and Key is trying to figure out why, before she is next. What I liked: This book is an original with mystery and romance and the story unfolding throughout in life and death. The characters are built through understanding dawning the more Key’s memories come back to her. I love the premise of this book and what it has to offer. What I didn’t like: I found myself getting lost quite a bit with the constant jumping back and forth between Under and Key’s memories from when she was alive to present. While I like how the characters came together from living and dead, it was discordant at times and difficult to follow. I am not sure if all the characters from Under are explained from the sporadic writing. However, while I found the book confusing at time, I still give this a solid 4 stars and recommend it. Maybe you are a better reader than me and will not find the jumping back and forth confusing. If so, bravo and you will find the story richer for it.
Imagine waking up as you were falling, but you’re different than you remember. The difference… you’re dead. You don’t know how you died, you have no memories. Now, those who were with you are slowly disappearing, and you have to find out why before you’re next. While this was a bit of a slow start for me, it was still an interesting story. The characters and the plot kept you guessing. It was interesting to meet some of the characters, such as Smoke, Journal and Ribbon. The story is told from Key’s perspective and the details of the world created was great. There was a romance aspect but it’s wasn’t a main factor. Kelsey Sutton’s writing is stunning. It’s engaging and she tells quite the story. The pace was just a bit slow, which kept this from being a 5-star review. I’m interested to read more of her work.
Fantasy, paranormal and mystery fans who are looking for a different type of read will enjoy picking up this one. Key wakes to find herself in a dark, tightly enclosed space with only a voice coming from nowhere. Then, she falls. Landing in the Under, a strange place that many have fallen from their graves into after their deaths, her memories have who she was and who she knew during life are gone. Instead, she needs to find her place in a society of dead people...most who are at least partially decomposed and suffering the same memory loss. Soon, she finds some friends but, at the same time, her memories start to return. Then, the impossible happens. Someone is brutally murdering the already dead, and Key begins to suspect it has something to do with her and the object whose namesake she now carries—the key around her neck. I'm not sure where to start with this review, since there's no way I can possibly bring the story across in all of its rich strangeness and curious atmosphere. It takes place in a space under the dirt, where types of living spaces have been carved out of the dirt. And the characters are partially decomposed, except for Key, who although laying in her grave for years, has somehow remained pretty much intact. The dead are friendly enough and have formed a type of townish society. It's an odd setting with a dismal atmosphere, and it works. Each character, named after whatever object they might have possessed when they 'fell', gains a surprisingly rich personality. Everything is coated with a sense of mystery and curiosity, and as the plot unfolds, all of it gains in depth. The characters hook and each possess their own surprising history. The mystery itself isn't so much a hunt for clues, but unfolds as the memories return in dreamlike flashbacks. While a bit predictable in some respects, the mixture works and makes it hard to put the book down. There's romance in here too, which is warm and yet, strange in its own right thanks to the characters being dead. This leaves an odd feel to it, which isn't necessarily bad or good. Simply different. I received a complimentary copy and am giving this 4.5 and rounding up.
So, honestly even though it started with what was supposed to be a pretty exciting or sudden frightening event, I felt as if it started a bit slow for me. It took a bit to get in. A third of the way through it did pick up, and I became invested in the characters and what was happening. As I continued to read I started thinking of what might be the twist. While I thought I knew what it might be, the author definitely kept me guessing till the end with the true motivations. There was at least one twist I did not see coming, even as who certain characters were fell into place, one or two still were surprises when I found out who they had been in the world before. While I get who and why all of this happened, I feel like the twists and turns made it harder for me to believe exactly how it all went down. It was original in how it ended and its overall plot, but I wouldn't put it as a top read of mine for the year. However it did keep my attention for the most part, and had some good moments and interesting character development, it maybe be more for you than it was for me.
Unusual supernatural story! Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton! The story opens as the main character awakens in a cramped space, then feels a falling sensation. She discovers that she’s fallen into Under, which is a place where some people go after they die. Others start being terminated by being burned by a murderer. The only way Under residents die is through being burned because they are already dead. A strange story about the people who reside in Under and what happens when they gain their memories back. My favorite part of the book details the relationship memories of Smoke and Key. A little bit of magic used in the inappropriate way and revenge fuels the plot. Being slow at times and the unusual world-building earn 3 stars! *I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration and all opinions and thoughts are my own.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours. Holy cow, this was fantastic! I know I say that often about books, but this really was a spectacular read. I even doubt I’ll be able to give the book justice by this review, but here’s to trying anyway… Set in the mysterious place called Under, Key tries to uncover the truth about why she’s fallen out of her grave and, more importantly, who she really is. Because all her memories are gone, and so are those of the other undead there. I love the mystery itself in this one. It was so mind-boggling since readers’ knowledge are limited to what Key witnesses. Also, considering the fact that everyone in Under doesn’t have memories as well just adds to the thrill! The main character wasn’t that interesting but the whole concept of the book absolutely won me over. I wouldn’t normally enjoy books that have boring MCs but I was surprised to have loved this. It was so engaging to find out more about the past, the place and how everyone got to be in Under. The backstory wasn’t what I expected, but it certainly was fantastic nonetheless! Unique and exhilarating, Smoke and Key really deserves 5-star ratings. I could not put this book down!
I received this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. I enjoyed this story, but it somehow felt like the beginning and middle dragged on while the ending came too quickly. The pace of the story felt off and it somewhat affected my judgement of the story. Another thing I noticed was while I loved the story, it felt familiar to me. Like I had read this before with some minor details and names changed. It felt so familiar, I could plot it out from the beginning exactly what happens. Did that subtract from the story? No. It just means it's the kind of story I would like and read, with just a hint of deja vu. I did lower my rating due to pacing and the time I read it. I started reading this after hearing news of the death of my friend, and while I wanted something distracting, this story hit a bit too close to home. This probably wasn't the best time to read this story, but the mystery pulled me in and I couldn't resist. Overall, I liked the story. I thought the mystery aspect was well thought out and interesting. I wished pacing was a bit different, but it didn't take away too much from the story overall. I would absolutely recommend this if you're looking for a creepy, quick read. Perfect for Halloween time!
"I NEED NOT BE FULL TO BE SIGNIFICANT. I NEED NOT BE WHOLE TO BE BEAUTIFUL." "Smoke And Key" by Kelsey Sutton had me checking my pulse, feeling my heartbeat, and gasping for air. Our main character Key wakes up to a strange voice calling her awake. She is in a confined space; the ceiling is right above her, and the walls are all around her. Violently, she starts pounding and screaming, and then.....she falls. Into a strange land where the sky is made of earth. A young girl approaches her, but something is not quite right. The young girl is decaying from various parts of her body. Our main character takes off and runs where a voice guides her to a young boy; Smoke. Who looks almost alive except for the wound across his neck that he couldn't possibly have survived. Smoke Tells her she is dead along with everyone else here. The people of the underground don't have any memories of before they died. They don't know their names or why they are the only ones here. They have accepted the underground, and their deaths and have found peace, or so they claim. But Key isn't like the others, Key wants to live again. Key starts having memories; she knows she is the reason these people are dead. A serial killer is on the loose and the dead start dying. will her memories reveal the murderer on time? Will she be able to find the door? will she be able to lift the curse? and send these people and herself into a peaceful, everlasting slumber? "Smoke and Key" is a fast-paced paranormal dark fantasy novel. I found the concept unique and captivating. The book is thoroughly enthralling and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I read it in 2 sittings and could not put it down or get it out of my head. For those 2 days reading it, and the many after, it captivated my life completely. It is beautifully written and intricately described. I love how the author creates a rich atmosphere in the book, and it feels like your right there. The book contains mystery and once it was solved it took me by surprise. I love the way the mystery is solved part by part and it feels like your putting jigsaw pieces together. The love triangle is very competitive and is also woven into a mystery. It is uniquely done. There are elements of humour thrown throughout the book. Our main character Key is very relatable and loves to read. I think this book is suitable for anyone above the age of 14. I found it a bit creepy, but it wasn't disturbing. Our characters have a 1960s Ireland aesthetic. I rate Smoke and key by Kelsey Sutton 3 out of 5 stars. I very much enjoyed this book but I feel as if though it is not something that will stick with me. I do hope to read more by Kelsey Sutton. "Smoke And Key" is full of dark witchcraft murder and mystery that keeps you guessing "HE TASTES OF TOBACCO LEAVES, GIN, AND A HINT OF BLOOD.FORBIDDEN."
Smoke and Key is an interesting mysterious read and I know my review isn’t going to do it justice. It’s set in a dystopian world and has a tainted edge. It’s dark and has a twist. Imagine waking up in a place close to death. Everyone has lost their memory and your body feels undead. The name given to you links to the object given to you in your new skin. Key is new to the dystopian world but she’s also different. She is the start of the cracks. Everyone has a story but nobody can remember how it started. A key needs to find a door but this mystery is more than meets the eye. With the arrival of Key a chain of murders occur. Love is just a game if you don’t understand the players. This story starts like a horror movie and I will admit I was scared walking down the dark path. It offers mystery, suspense, magic and romance. This isn’t your typical romance. It isn’t your typical murder mystery. It’s strange and enchanting. It’s addictive and ugly. It’s hard for me to rate this book because it was executed perfectly but it left a strange taste. It’s the start of a series and offers something different. It’s not my typical read, and it’s not for everyone, but I couldn’t put it down therefore I’m rating 4 stars. It’s unique and twisted. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
in smoke and key, a dark young adult paranormal historical mystery (say that three times fast), a young woman wakes up in the under. she only knows herself by the name of key. and soon she learns that everyone who inhabits this place is dead. but she has memories she shares with another, a boy names smoke. and these fragmented memories seem to hind at the moment of her death. but someone doesn't want her unraveling that mystery. and soon the others in under start to turn up deader than they already were. and so key has to find a way to access all her memories and solve the mystery of this killer. it's a whodunit, so no spoilers here. but an enjoyable, atmospheric young adult read. **smoke and key will publish on april 2, 2019. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled teen) in exchange for my honest review.
Such a thrilling and enticing YA Novel that will leave readers on the edge of their seats wanting more. I absolutely love the names of the characters and how each of them symbolize an object that is crucial to the story. Each page was a different conflict with so much drama and resolution that my eyes were just glued to the page and I could not stop reading. Each page was a new twist and turn and went in unexpected directions that nobody saw coming. We will consider adding this book to our YFiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
This is such a beautiful and sad story. I loved it so much, the whole concept of Under and the curse made it epic. What started as a simple love affair soon resulted in many deaths and a mystery that needs to be solved before any soul can rest in peace. In Under no one has a name. Everyone is simply called by whatever they had on them at the time of their falling. So, Key is Key because that's what she had on her when she fell. She is the new arrival and everyone is trying to teach her the ways of Under in their own way. She meets Smoke and feels things that the dead should not feel. Then there is Journal, always reading something and researching. People around her are good and she starts making friends. But in the shadows, a danger lurks, a murderer is on lose and only Key can solve this mystery. Because no one remembers their lives from Topside, it is not easy to learn the truth. Key, however, feels that there is more to this place than meets the eye. This in-between place where they are neither alive nor dead is holding some secret and only when it is unraveled will they be able to cross-over. The story is told beautifully and the mystery is kept until the very end. It is the kind of novel that will make you hold your breath and sit at the edge of your chair while you try to make sense of everything going on in the Under. I really enjoyed reading it and would definitely recommend to all fellow readers.
"Smoke and Key" is an intriguing and macabre YA mystery. We follow Key into the world of Under as she wakes in her grave and then falls through to a world underneath the graveyard. She and the others of Under retain their memories of the world without any autobiographical memories. As such, they call themselves by the name of the object on their person when they fall into Under. Each person is in a different state of decay, depending on how long they were in their graves before falling into Under when their appearance freezes, giving some grisly descriptions. Key, luckily, is pretty well preserved. She also feels that her memories lie just beneath the surface, and as though she can remember who she is. Drawn to Smoke (found with cigar and fancy cigar holder) and Journal (found with his journal), she feels that she can solve the mystery of Under which the others have been resigned to live. The only way to die in Under is to be burnt to ashes. When bodies begin showing up burnt with their tongues cut out, Key will need to solve the mysteries not only of Under itself but also of the murderer, before it is too late. This was a quickly moving and mysterious book with an element of horror (from the descriptions of people and the murders) that follows Key as she begins to dismantle the unknown through slowly arriving memories and searching. While the mystery is deliciously slow, the book reads very quickly as it is hard to leave Under without knowing the truth. The ending is left rather open, and we do not find the final end to the story- I would have liked more closure, but I understand why it was left as is. Overall, this was a creepy and quick read that had me rapidly turning pages to learn more about Under and about its enigmatic residents. Readers of YA mysteries who like a touch of horror will enjoy this engaging fiction. Please note that I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC which I received from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
“You’re dead, darlin’. This isn’t hell, but it’s the next best thing.” She hears a voice imploring her to wake up. She falls and finds herself surrounded by dirt. In Under she meets a group of strangers whose bodies are in different stages of decomposition. While they can all remember general knowledge they do not remember anything personal from their lives. Each awoke with an item that was buried with them, an item that helps their owner decide their Under name. The girl who wakes at the beginning of the book becomes Key. She meets Ribbon, Smoke, Journal, Handkerchief, Doll, and many others. Shortly after Key arrives in Under the first murder occurs and there’s no waking up from this death. ‘We are ghosts, but we are the ones being haunted.’ Key’s flashbacks provide frequent snippets of information about her life before death, building towards revelations that may hold more danger than she could imagine. I found the flashbacks interesting but expect readers who aren’t a fan of multiple flashbacks could find their frequency and slow drip of information irritating. I liked getting to know the main characters but found many of the minor characters interchangeable. Content warnings are included in my Goodreads review (Schizanthus Nerd). Overall this was an enjoyable read (one I can see myself rereading) and I am interested in reading more of this author’s books. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Entangled Teen, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC, for the opportunity to read this book.