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Book Review: Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton

Smoke and Key

 

Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Romance

Plot: 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 names—from 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 burnt to a crisp. After being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she was—and what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden—before she becomes the next victim…

Opinion:  

Death, lost love, walking corpses, corsets, propriety, falling from graves, curious momentous and magic.

Finally.

The spooky Historical Romance that your Gothic little heart was searching for.

Smoke and Key was just as beautiful, dark, sorrowful and mysterious as I’d hoped it would be.

Kelsey Sutton is Queen when it comes to ingenious and creatively mind-bending YA plots. She brings fantasy to life and completely astounds me with her imaginative ideas for books. Countdown clocks to death in Gardenia, a book of poetry about a girl living a life of imagination in The Lonely Ones, and a world where emotions take human form in the Some Quiet Place series?!

*Swoon*

But my newest Kelsey Sutton obsession centers on Smoke and Key. It’s an eerie Gothic mystery dripping in fog and Tim Burton tendencies. The story takes place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and moves between Key’s memories of her life and her time in Under. It is a time when young ladies are thrust into corsets and skirts, where propriety is everything, and when being caught with a member of the opposite sex in public, without a chaperone, is downright scandalous! It is a YA Crimson Peak (without the weirdness) and Corpse Bride mashup, stuffed with romance, murder and magic.

Under is neither heaven nor hell, it is a place in between, or so its inhabitants think. The place is downright creepy, and I was enamored with every moment of it. There is only dirt, cold and corpses in this depressing place and each person who walks its floor possesses the names of the objects they came with: Key, Smoke, Ribbon, Journal, Pocket Watch, Doll. The characters and the world of Under is like a funhouse for the dead. It’s filled with charismatic characters whose flesh and organs are literally decomposing before the readers eyes, and they’re tipping over the Looney Tunes side of the sanity spectrum.

Though there is no clear indication of what age characters like Key, Smoke and Journal are, I would have to guess that they are in their late teens or very early twenties. I found Key to be an absolute dream and am so grateful the author didn’t turn her into an immature wailing female. Key is the picture of poise and manners, even in death, and she comes off as an incredibly strong-willed lady of the dead. Match her up with the brooding, curious and dashingly Gothic Smoke, and we’ve got ourselves the match-up for every bleak black heart out there!

But obviously, the real addiction here is the thrilling ride the reader takes as they begin to uncover what Under is, and how these people got there. As Key’s memories begin to surface, she gets snippets and clues of her life when she was alive. A big house with a girl who calls her sister, a boy in a library, and American with an infectious grin and a knack for fighting. Each memory brings Key closer to learning about herself and how she died, but it also brings her closer to the dark side of her life.

This book brought out so many emotions in me while I was reading. Sadness, longing, excitement, disgust, curiosity. I LOVE the world this author created and the characters that fill its pages. It was so different from every YA Fantasy story currently out right now, and it is bound to be a favorite if you love a Gothic tale with magic. I devoured every page and am still hopelessly looking for more…*sigh*.

I’m going to be looking at cemeteries with longing in my eyes now.

 

5-stars

 

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Binding of Bindings · Book Promo · Books · New Releases · Pre-order · Upcoming Releases

Binding of Bindings #12: My Top 15 Anticipated April Book Releases

I thought this was going to be a nice, cheery, colorful and happy post about 15 books that I CAN’T wait to be released for April.
But….as I started adding each book on to my list…
….it started turning
super sad and dismal.

I love it.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

 

~* My 15 Anticipated April Book Releases *~

 

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1. White Rose by Kip Wilson

Release Date: April 2, 2019
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction

White Rose

White Rose reflects on the life of Sophie Scholl, who was a young German anti-Nazi activist born in 1921 and who died in 1943. This book documents her time in the White Rose, a non-violent resistance group, and the eventual capture of her and her brother as they were convicted of treason.

I don’t know about you, but i have a hardcore fascination for anything WWII. This sounds like an AMAZING story, and thankfully I received an ARC of it from Edelweiss!!

 

2. Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton

Release Date: April 2, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Smoke and Key

I am SO STOKED for this release!

If you don’t know Kelsey Sutton, YOU NEED TO.

She comes up with these intricate and creative plot ideas, blends it with detailed characters and settings, and just turns you into a bumbling blathering bandicoot.

For example:

In Smoke and Key a girl wakes up in this dark, cold underground place with no idea of where she is or how she got there. Around her neck is a Key, the only clue to her identity. She comes across a boy named Smoke, who explains the she is dead and has fallen out of her grave into “Under“, a place filled with inhabitants who are named after the items they carry. “Under” is creepy, filled with secrets, and downright gritty.

Sounds trippy, right?

I JUST pre-ordered Smoke and Key on Wednesday, so I am SO excited to receive it on the release day…because it sounds…

 

3. Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, Book 1) by Emily A. Duncan

Release Date: April 2, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Romance

Wicked Saints.jpg

So apparently, Wicked Saints follows two characters, Nadya and Serefin. Nadya is a cleric (priest/religious leader) with magical powers and is being hunted by Serefin, a Prince who is also a mage.  It is described as a Gothic tale full of secrets, bloodshed, treachery and callousness.

Psh…sign me up.

 

4. Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Release Date: April 2, 2019
Genre: Adult/Fiction/Feminism

Women Talking.jpg

Women Talking is for the mature reader, due to acts of rape and physical/mental abuse.

It is the story of eight Mennonite women meeting in secret to share their horrific stories of abuse that has reached more than a hundred girls. It is the story of how the men in their colony have drugged and raped them, and how the women come together to decide if they should stay or leave.

This sounds like it’s going to be a difficult read to get through, but due to it being based on a true story, I definitely want to give it the attention it deserves.

 

5. We are Blood and Thunder by Kesia Lupo

Release Date: April 4, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy

We are Blood and Thunder.jpg

This is the story of two young women who must come together in order to break a spell that has brought a cloud of disease and devastation of Duke’s City. For years the city has been sealed off from the rest of the world, not allowing anyone in or out.

After Lena is accused of being a Mage, she fights to escape the city, just as a young women named Constance, tries to get back in. Together the women must work together in order to save the city and the people within.

I love a Fantasy story, especially one that involves two badass women who save the day…hopefully.

 

6. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

Release Date: April 4, 2019
Genre: Ya/Fantasy

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe.jpg

The story of a seventeen-year-old captain of a mining ship seeks revenge on the River Raiders who robbed her two years prior.

Though the story sounds like a Pirates of the Caribbean type of tale, it centers more on grief, redemption, forgiveness and the path to find one’s self. It follow Poe as she tries to come to terms with her past, while also embarking on an exhilarating adventure.

 

7. The Last by Hanna Jameson

Release Date: April 9, 2019
Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

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The Last is described as a tale that combines a “nuclear apocalypse and murder mystery“. Now if that doesn’t grab your psychotic attention, I don’t know what will.

It starts with a man named Jon arriving at a hotel in Switzerland. Whilst there, news reports come flooding in of a nuclear attack on major cities. As hotel guests begin to flee, only twenty guests remain at the hotel, and Jon tells the reader of their story.  As the world is crumbling around them, with little knowledge of what is actually going on in the world, a young girl is found dead.

I received this title from Netgalley, and am really intrigued by the premise of this story. I think it is either going to turn out to be INCREDIBLE, or a dud…but we shall see!

 

 

 8. How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

Release Date: April 9, 2019
Genre: YA/Contemporary

How to Make Friends with the Dark.jpg

Ahhhhhhhhhh chit!

We’re gunna cry during this one guys!

How to make Friends with the Dark is the story of Tiger after she loses her mother. We follow her as she deals with her loss, is put through foster care, and tries to navigate a world where she now feels lonely and isolated.

This book has a TON of amazing reviews on Goodreads praising the writing and story. Just makes sure you grab a box of tissues and a fuzzy blanket before settling into this one.

 

9. The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr

Release Date: April 9, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction/Thriller/Mystery

The Lost History of Dreams.jpg

A Gothic ghost story with a chilling mystery, YES please!

The Lost History of Dreams is the story of Hugh De Bonne, and his wife and muse Ada. After Hugh dies suddenly, his cousin Robert Highstead, a post-mortem photographer, is called on to transport Hugh’s remains for burial. But when the niece of Ada comes forward to recount the truth of Hugh and Ada’s marriage, a secret begins to emerge.

It sounds creepy, it sounds spooky, and it sounds like it’s right up my “Forever Halloween Season” alley.

 

10. The Dream Peddler by Martine Fournier Watson

Release Date: April 9, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

The Dream Peddler.jpg

Geezus, this post is just dripping in grieving characters and sadness, isn’t it?!?!

Well, here’s another one.

Robert Owens is a traveling salesman in the business of selling dreams. After the disappearance of a young boy rocks a small town into shock and grief, Robert begins to use his magic to help the inhabitants. But despite his effort to help, some of his dealing turn disastrous.

This author had me at “selling dreams“.

 

11. Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge

Release Date: April 9, 2019
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Mystery

Dreaming Darkly.jpg

Another Gothic Mystery/Thriller, because the April Book Gods have answered my little gothy prayers!

Ivy has just been shipped off to Darkhaven to live with her rich uncle following the death of her strange and abusive mother. As Ivy begins to adjust to her new life, she starts to uncover some well-hidden family secrets. Secrets that have her waking up from nightmares. But when one nightmare causes her to wake up covered in blood, she starts to realize that maybe there was a reason behind her mother’s crazed behavior.

SPOOKY!

 

12. Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller

Release Date: April 9, 2019
Genre: YA/Contemporary/Feminism

girls on the Vergs

Ahh…a good old fashioned girls road trip!

Except this road trip consists of two best friends and a girl they barely know…to get…an abortion.

On the same night that Camille learns she has been accepted into a prestigious theater program, she also learns that she is pregnant. Felling like she has no other option, she decides to get an abortion. With nobody to turn to, as her best friend disagrees with her decision, she reaches out to a girl from the theater to accompany her.

This book documents a woman’s right to choose, and the strength it takes to go against social expectations.

 

13. The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters

Release Date: April 16, 2019
Genre: YA/Retelling/Fantasy/Historical Fiction

The Raven's Tale

I JUST mentioned this last week in my Binding of Bindings: Top Ten Retellings of 2019 post last week, so we might as well give it some more promotion, right?!

The Raven’s Tale is a retelling/adaptation of the early life of famed poet Edgar Allen Poe. It is the story of his need to escape his home life, the love of his life, and the Muse that falls into his life. It sounds like it is going to be a beautifully haunting tale, which is perfect for any Edgar Allen Poe lover!

 

14. Last Girl Lied To by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Release Date: April 16, 2019
Genre: YA/Mystery/Thriller

Last girl Lied To.jpg

Last Girl Lied To is an emotional thriller about the disappearance of Trixie, and her best friend Fionas’ search to find her.

Though Trixies’ death was ruled a suicide, Fiona thinks that Trixie is actually alive. As Fiona hunts for clues as to what may have caused her friend to leave, she begins to realize that the friend she thought she knew may have been a complete stranger.

 

15. Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Release Date: April 24, 2019
Genre: Poetry

Shout.jpg

An anticipated release for months, April is finally making our wants and desires come true.

Twenty years ago, Laurie Halse Anderson released her book Speak, the story of a young girl who is the victim of rape. Still a favorite and an incredibly important story that has been shared across the world, Anderson still can’t fathom how rape culture still exists.

In Shout, Anderson has compiled countless stories, moments from her life, and poetry that is a love letter to every person who fights to rid our culture of sexual abuse.

THIS is the one we have all been waiting for.

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Keep those beautiful heads up, those eyes reading, and remember to stay witchy! XoXo

 

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