Published by Entangled: Teen in April 2019
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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…
Note: I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review in any way. All opinions shared are my own.
I didn’t know what to expect going into Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton. The synopsis sounded interesting, and I assumed it would wind up with Smoke and Key together based upon the title. It truly turned out to be a page-turner. Sutton crafted a mysterious story that makes the reader wonder what happened before all the people died and ended up in Under. It’s fantasy with mystery and some romance thrown in. The story did get confusing at times, but I really loved it and had difficulty putting it down.
In Smoke and Key, Key wakes up in a coffin and winds up falling into Under. This place is literally under people’s graves and perhaps an in-between life and the afterlife. The problem is no one knows who they are or remembers their life before. No one knows why they’re in Under. All they have are items that they fall with. Key starts having flashbacks to her life, and people start turning up murdered. Somehow it’s all tied to their life before death.
The best part of this story for me was the mystery. I was completely engrossed in finding out who everyone was and what happened before. The story did get confusing at times when you’re trying to sort through the flashbacks versus what’s happening in real time. Overall though, I think I was able to follow the story fairly well. The biggest thing that confused me was the relationship between Key and Kathleen in her past. View Spoiler »I initially thought they were blood-related sisters, but they are actually best friends. That distinction completely changed my understanding of events unfolding, and things starting making so much sense after I realized that. « Hide Spoiler
Despite the title, the romance in the story isn’t the main focus. Yes, romance plays a big part in the mystery of everything. This story just isn’t really about two people falling in love. It’s about Key, Smoke, Journal, Ribbon, and everyone else in Under, and figuring out why they’re there.
I can understand how Smoke and Key may not be for everyone. It can be confusing at times. I’m hoping the story is cleaned up a bit between the copy I received as an eARC and the finished copy. However, I honestly hope that if you’re intrigued by the synopsis, you give Smoke and Key a chance. I truly found the mystery very intriguing. I figured out who was behind the murders pretty early on, but I was engrossed in understanding the history of the people. By the end of it all, I had a fondness for everyone in Under.
Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton is available for preorder today! It will be released on April 2, 2019.