Octavius Septimus Stalk, otherwise known as Oss, is no one special—at least in his own eyes. He has a boyfriend who loves him and neighborhoods who look to him for guidance, but Oss doesn’t see it hat way. He’s just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
In the City of Keys, magic is banned and the few who are born with it disappear. For this reason, Oss, one of the city’s key keepers, keeps his secrets close to the vest. He doesn’t even tell Thorne, his boyfriend, about his power to speak to and unlock any and all locks he encounters.
As the millennia nears, rumors spread about a prophecy that will open the door between the City of Magic and the City of Keys, a prophecy that some think is bogus and others take literally. Oss would rather stay out of it and continue to keep his head down, but when his boss passes away and the new one sets him up to take the fall for stealing the keys to the City Locks, Oss is thrown into an adventure of epic proportions, finding himself the key to the prophecy.
With Thorne by his side, Oss fights against corrupt city officials, crazy magical creatures, and power-hungry aristocracy of his City in order to save the people he loves and all of the City of Keys.
Okie doke. So I’ll start by saying that there are things about this book that are absolutely amazing and other things that just didn’t work for me.
The good bits:
- I am absolutely awed by this world. I love the way the author created it from keys. It’s a lock-filled, gear-powered world of supposedly non-magical people. Even the jobs revolve around keys and the like. It’s steampunk meets fairy tale and I like it.
- I love Thorne. I mean, give me a guy who doesn’t back down and doesn’t give up because he knows best and I will fall head over heels (almost) every time. And that is Thorne exactly.
- The prophecy, while obvious who the key players in it are, is crafted very well to fit not only the world, but the journey and tone of the story.
- There are parts of Oss that I really liked. He’s the anti-hero of this world, a little crazy and murdery, but still likable. He knows where he came from and even though he’s crawled out of the hole, he doesn’t look down on what he used to be or the way he grew up.
Things that didn’t gel:
- I liked Oss, but he’s a bit inconsistent. Take his relationship with Thorne, for example. Oss is crazy standoffish, especially when Thorne brings up anything remotely smelling of commitment, yet less than halfway through the book, he’s head over heels and ready to see where his relationship is going.
- Like I said earlier, the world of keys and gears and prophecies is amazing. When the author brought fairies and dragons and the like into the plot, it felt off. To me it was a case of trying to hard to make something great into something else.
- There are pieces of the story that are never really explained—like the vine that grows up the tower of keys. The reason for it is alluded to and even mused upon, but is never given true ground as to why and how.
While there are parts of this story that were good, it was not what I hoped for. Altogether, I liked the story, but I didn’t love it.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.