Author: Amber Kell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages
At a Glance: Keys is an excellent steampunk/dystopian story, in the grand tradition of the Steampunk genre, but it is a world all of its own.
Reviewed By: Angel
Blurb: My name is Octavius Septimus Stalk, but my friends call me Oss. I live in the City of Keys, a town of gears, keys, locks, and wonder. Our forefathers banished magic long ago, bolted the doors and locked everything up tight to keep people out and the town’s secrets in. Four Lock Lords control what information is left, and everyone else is left struggling to survive.
Despite what Thorne, my naïve lover, thinks, I was an orphan, but not a victim. When I walked the streets at the age of twelve, I learned fast where to steal the best food, how to use my daggers, and where to hide my would-be attackers’ bodies. No one suspected me of such violence. No one knew then or now that I have magic inside me.
Now, power hungry men intend to release the magic for their own benefit—at the expense of the rest of the city. We will stop them, even if Thorne must battle his own kin, even if I must reveal my hidden talents and the role I seem destined to play.
Review: Keys is an excellent steampunk/dystopian story, in the grand tradition of the Steampunk genre, but it is a world all of its own. It isn’t classic or traditional Victorian era, more retro-futuristic, I suppose. Regardless of how it is classified, I couldn’t put it down.
Keys has several of the beloved tropes: steam-powered technology, magical/supernatural elements, and class systems, but it isn’t an alternate time-line to our reality like many of the genre. I loved Keys for its differences as well as its similarities to this genre.
Kell has created a fascinating world that is similar to our own with just a touch more. It grabs you with its metal arms, embracing you and taking you deep into the City of Keys where you get lost to the magic of this author’s brilliant creation. I am still suffering a bit of a book hangover because I didn’t want it to end. Never fear, though, as this is a complete story with promises for more adventures coming later. Thanks for that, Madame Author!
I loved the characters, all of them; human, magical and clockwork. They are full of life and passion, and that includes the bad guys as well. The city itself is a major character too, and I wanted to know more about the legends and prophesy that drove the story. Oss is a fantastic narrator and I loved him immediately. While I was a bit mistrustful of Thorne, he slowly won me over by the end of the book. Marbrey, the Duke Lear, and Affie round out a stunning cast. Amalia, too. She better make a reappearance, just saying.
I sped through the book because it was entirely engaging and a wonder to read. Longer than many of Kell’s previous stories, every word is economically used and valued. And with the promise of more to come, I eagerly await whatever treasures this author has coming from this verse.
Thank you for an awesome read, Amber Kell.
You can buy Keys here: