Welcome to the Smoke and Key Blog Tour! This marks one of seventeen stops on the Fantastic Flying Book Club (FFBC) blog tour hosting Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton, a historical mystery set during the dawn of the 20th century but the dusk of our characters lives–as they reanimate in a subterranean world they shape into their new home. Dig in to find out more about the book and author, read my review, enter a giveaway to win one of two (2) copies of the book, and visit other stops along the tour. Now, let’s unearth some long-buried histories and mysteries!
About the Book
Smoke and Key
by Kelsey Sutton
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: April 2nd 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Magic, Horror
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…
Awakened by a desperate plea, a young woman tumbles through the bottom of her grave and into a wonderland of nightmare proportions the locals call Under. Unable to recall who she is or any trace of her previous life, she follows her predecessors’ examples and adopts the name Key, after the lone object found in her grave. With the help of an intriguing boy named Smoke, her new friends, and the strange key fastened around her neck, Key is determined navigate a labyrinth of dirt and danger to unearth her true identity and past despite their insistence that doing so is impossible.
Key fights to maintain her grip on her sanity as her past comes back to haunt her, seizing her with visions of times long forgotten. With each new truth she uncovers, Key begins to suspect that magic and shared history are somehow responsible for their present existence, though she is not sure how. But proving so and digging deeper becomes more perilous at every turn as one by one Under’s residents fall victim to a mysterious assailant willing to kill to keep the dead from telling tales.
With eloquent prose, Sutton conjures a dark and deadly tale of the bygone days of the Edwardian era, calling it back to life. Subtle details about the community, fashion, customs (including language and literacy among different classes and women), and trinkets the characters cling to and the underworld they build hint at the time, place, and society they once lived in. Sutton adeptly renders every facet of Under–the sepulchral time capsule that defines their new home–in such a way as to inspire both curiosity and dread. Although the overly detailed romantic elements seem to impede the pace of the mystery, Sutton shows prowess with human folly and matters of the heart.
In Smoke and Key, Sutton summons a cast of mysterious, foreboding characters and makes them accessible, reassembling them slowly and carefully as the story progresses. Key, the main character, is very real, possessing many qualities that are likable and unlikable. She is an independent, strong, spirited, shy, curious, and caring young woman readers will adore. While many of Key’s decisions seem questionable, her motives and her heart often seem to be in the right place.
Smoke is charming and frustrating in many ways as well. A skilled fighter, mischievous friend, observant listener, and patient, caring love interest are just some aspects of his repertoire that will endear him to readers–despite some of his moody behavior. Though he acts as a protector and guide in the worlds both above ground and below, Smoke does not overshadow Key. He empowers her to speak her mind, work through her own thoughts and feelings, and fight her own battles–supporting her and her decisions in ways even the most well-intentioned men in her life have not.
Journal, too, proves to be a good friend in spite of some of his earlier transgressions. He overcomes significant emotional obstacles and his own temptations to right wrongs and help those he cares for. In many ways, his growth appears more substantial than Smoke’s does.
In Smoke and Key, Sutton tills a compelling mixture of forbidden magic, dark histories*, and labyrinthine mysteries to cultivate a tragic narrative of loss, vengeance, redemption, and love in its many shades. Sutton’s gripping mystery explores what it truly means to have freedom of choice, the breadth and depth of the decisions we make and those we do not, and the consequences of those choices for ourselves and others.
*Some suggested trigger warnings for this book include suicidal thoughts, self harm, and abuse.
I received a free advanced copy of Smoke and Key as part of the FFBC Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Kelsey Sutton is a young adult and middle grade author. She lives in Minnesota, where she received a dual bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Bemidji State University. She will soon have a master’s degree from Hamline University. Her work has received an Independent Publisher Book Award, an IndieFab Award, and was selected as a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013. When not writing, Kelsey can be found watching too much Netflix, ordering a mocha at the nearest coffee shop, napping with her rescue dogs, or browsing a bookstore. You can visit her online at www.kelseysuttonbooks.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter or Instagram.
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ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY:
- Win (1) of (2) copies of SMOKE AND KEY by Kelsey Sutton (US Only)
- USA Only
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(Runs April 10th through April 23rd)
*Click the Rafflecopter Link below to enter*
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Happy Reading! ^_^