REVIEW: THE SKELETON KEY BY TARA MOSS

SKELETON KEY, THE
Author: Tara Moss
Macmillan Australia RRP $22.99
Review: Monique Mulligan 

The Skeleton Key (Pandora English, #3)YOUNG adults and paranormal romance lovers who haven’t dipped into Tara Moss’s Pandora English series might want do some catch-up reading. The Skeleton Key is the third in the Pandora English series and those who’ve been reading the series from the start seem to think this one is the best yet. I haven’t read the first two books, and while it’s possible to read The Skeleton Key as a standalone book, I think readers will benefit more from reading it as part of a series. As Tara said when I interviewed her, “You should have no trouble reading the third and latest novel, The Skeleton Key, as a one off, though I hope it will make you want to go back and read the first two in the series to see how her journey unfolds.”

Pandora English is 19, an orphan and has recently moved from a small town to live with her great aunt in Spektor, a Manhattan suburb that doesn’t appear on any maps. By day she works as a lowly fashion assistant to Skye DeVille (who has stopped showing up in daylight hours) at the coincidentally-named Pandora magazine. By night, she is a supernatural scion (lineal descendant , a daughter of the Lucasta family; she knows she is The Seventh (the one who comes every 150 years at the time of revolution), but not what that specifically means for her. As part of her small-town upbringing, she was taught to ignore her supernatural abilities; now, in Spektor, she is only just realising how strong her abilities are.

The Skeleton Key opens when the Crow Moon is rising. Pandora has a date with Civil War soldier Lieutenant Luke, who will be flesh-and-blood for one night only. During a romantic stroll in Central Park, Lieutenant Luke disappears. How is his disappearance linked to her role as The Seventh? To find out, Pandora must use her skeleton key and discover the secrets that lie in the forgotten laboratory of Dr Edmund Barrett. If she does not succeed, the dead will rise on the next full moon and terror will reign.

I’ve read a couple of Tara’s crime novels so I expected good, tight writing. I wasn’t sure how she’d write for a different, younger market, but I soon found that she was just as capable of spinning a fun, paranormal fantasy as an edgy crime novel. I did find it a little slow at times, especially early on, but it soon picked up the pace and took me along for the ride, teasing out a plot that was fun and interesting for the most part. The requisite love triangle is sure to have fans taking sides (team Luke or team Jay?), while the creepy bits as Pandora dodges hungry vampires and figures out how to avoid a revolution is sure to cause shivery goosebumps for those with overactive imaginations.

The Skeleton Key is a good YA read – but if possible, read The Blood Countess and The Spider Goddess first. A fourth book in the series, The Cobra Queen, is set to be released in December 2013.

Available from good bookstores and Pan Macmillan Australia. This copy was courtesy of Pan Macmillan.