A Hall of Keys and No Doors


Ella Keyes loses her twin brother to a fatal car accident, and she can’t help but blame herself.  In order to cope she spins a cocoon of safety and familiarity.  Her ‘perfect’ life starts to spiral out of control when her grandmother dies and she inherits Grammie’s house, complete with a set of magic keys. These keys might be causing strange occurrences in her life, both for better and for worse.  As she struggles to gain control she realizes that she has to choose between being stuck in the past forever or finally moving on.

There is a strong theme of Ella needing to confront her grief issues, and she’s pushed to do so through the magic keys.  She’s struggling with dating, family, and money problems.  There are issues that the keys are presumably making her experience so that she’ll be forced to accept and overcome her brother’s absence.  

The concept for this story is amazing, and quickly draws the reader in.  Characters and the world building were well-defined and extraordinarily believable. Emmie Mears is an #ownvoices author, and her portrayal of the LGBTQ+ characters in her novel is both sensitive and accurate. There are some issues with the novel, however. Unfortunately, the plot wanders through many conflicts, in different directions.  Instead of feeling progression through the main conflict, one feels disconnected and all over the place.  There were also many grammar issues which detract from the reader’s ability to fully immerse themselves.  Perhaps with a bit more editing this story would have gone from good to great. 

MB Rose