Digital ARC provided by Entangled Teen and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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…
Smoke and Key is a stand alone young adult historical paranormal read with a mix mystery and romance and a really morbid feel to it.
The story begins with a girl falling from her grave to a place called Under where she meets other people who have fallen like her. As soon as she falls, she meets a man called Smoke who tells her she’s dead & she has to spend the rest of her afterlife in Under. No one in Under remembers their name or their past. Everyone gets their name based off an item that was buried with them. She is called Key because that’s the only thing that was in her possession when she fell into Under. There are lots of other side characters who are also named after their possessions like Journal, Ribbon, Doll, Handkerchief, Tin type etc. All the people she meets in Under are in semi decomposed states however she’s the only one who’s only preserved. She soon makes friends but she can’t seem to give up on finding out why she’s in Under. When a series of murders takes place after her arrival & Key starts regaining her memories she’s in a race against time before she becomes the next victim.
What I Liked:
- This was a very unique yet macabre concept that I’d not come across before.
- The authors writing style was very easy to follow.
- I loved the setting of the book. I liked the dark & creepy atmosphere & the fantasy aspect of this book.
- The book was written in Key’s POV and it kept jumping from the present to the past in a series of flashbacks. I found it a lil confusing at first but eventually you seem to connect all the dots. Some might find this hard to understand but once you understand what’s happening you get the hang of it.
- We got to meet plenty of interesting characters like Smoke, Journal, Ribbon and learned how their stories were somehow connected to Key. I enjoyed the backstory more than what was happening in the present.
- I loved Key as a character. She is a pretty likeable main character who’s brave & stubborn. Smoke on the other hand is such a broody & mysterious character. I loved the romance between these two. They have an instant connection from the beginning some might find that weird but as we progress with the story we get to know why. And I’m a sucker for insta love.
- From the secondary characters I liked Journal & Doll.
- I loved how the author build a mysterious and somehow beautiful but morbid world.
What I didn’t like:
- There’s kind of a love triangle which I don’t seem to enjoy.
- I managed to predict who the villain was.
- I would have liked a little bit of a backstory on one of my favorite characters Doll which we didn’t get.
- Even though there’s a lot of mystery and tension built throughout the book but it felt like nothing much was happening especially in the present.
The book is mainly about the amount of damage jealousy can cause and how it can spiral out of control and take everyone down in its path.
I enjoyed all the characters & the story very much. This was my first read by the author and it won’t be my last.
Would I recommend it: YES!
If your looking for an odd but original plot, a fun yet macabre read you should definitely give this a go.