A story that captures the imagination from reading the opening pages, for me, is either going to lose momentum and fall flat on its face or is going to keep the reader engaged, excited and entertained to the very end pages. I have just finished reading The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly and this is a book that falls into the later of those two categories – an exciting and thrilling read that blends the mystery of a puzzling 50 year old treasure hunt and sinister obsessions with a family legacy packed with secrets and lies.
In the late 60s / early 70s, Frank Churcher, an artist, wrote a book. This was no ordinary book; The Golden Bones was part picture book filled with his artwork and part treasure hunt. It was a fairy story about Elinore, a murdered woman whose skeleton was scattered all over England. Clues and puzzles in the pages of The Golden Bones led readers to seven sites where jewels were buried: one by one, the tiny golden bones were dug up until only Elinore’s pelvis remained hidden.
An interesting concept that really took off and was a worldwide sensation which resulted in the formation of a community of treasure hunters called The Bonehunters. Whilst most of The Bonehunters were simply harmless armchair treasure hunters trying to solve the clues in the book, some took it to new levels obsessing to a very dangerous, murderous degree. The book made Frank a rich man, but with consequences – his daughter Nell was stalked by fans who could not tell fantasy from reality, eventually causing her to become somewhat of a recluse.
In 2021, the 50th anniversary of The Golden Bones, things are about to be stirred up again. The book is being reissued along with a new treasure hunt and a documentary crew are charting everything that follows. With the Churchers reunited, Nell is appalled, and terrified. During the filming, Frank finally reveals the whereabouts of the missing golden bone. And then all hell breaks loose.
Overall, I loved this novel – it was extremely intriguing and exciting, packed with thrilling twists, turns, suspense and secrets. It is a story of two families ultimately destroyed by success and the pursuit of fame, obsession, arrogance and control.
The Skeleton Key is a dark and intricate psychological thriller featuring armchair treasure hunters that will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, crazed fans, conspiracy theories, dark family secrets, obsession and manipulation. The story covers different timelines to tell the tale, going back and forth from 1969 to 2021, focusing on two families: Churcher and Lally – best of friends, later joined together through marriage. It spans 50 years and the writing of a fairytale treasure hunting book that has serious consequences for both families.
The storyline is wonderfully plotted with some excellent plot twists that just make this such an intriguing story and one that is extremely hard to stop reading. The characters are wonderful with great depth that is slowly revealed the more you read – they all have their baggage, making some more likable than others, some becoming more despicable the more that is revealed about them, but all written with such expertise that you can’t help wanting to know more about each and every one.
I thought that The Skeleton Key was a fantastic read. A sophisticated and intriguing story, narrated mostly by the character Nell, that has been expertly written and one that keeps the reader engaged with the characters and plot. With many different layers to the plot, it never feels rushed to a conclusion, only revealing secrets when absolutely necessary to progress the story. A complex story of two very intertwined families that is easy to read and get caught up in.
I found The Skeleton Key to be a very exciting read with many layers. It started with a bang and only got better. An excellent storyline with excellent well fleshed out characters that you will either love or hate the more you discover about them.
An exciting mysterious thriller that you won’t be disappointed to read.
RRP: £16.99 (Hardback) / £9.99 (Paperback) / £0.99 (Kindle)