I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire. Smoke unfurling out of an upper window and a hectic orange light cascading across the terrace.
By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the loss of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy – one whose death decades ago haunts her still.
For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.
The Key in the Lock is an atmospheric novel told in dual timelines, following Ivy Boscawen as she mourns the death of her son in 1918 and looks back on happenings 30 years ago when a young boy, William, lost his life in a fire.
The novel has a haunting, mysterious feel running through it. We wonder what really happened all those years ago, and we feel Ivy’s grief – both for her son, for William all those years ago, and for her own situation (Ivy’s life didn’t quite pan out the way she wanted it to)- strongly.
I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but books like this make me wonder why I don’t read more! In The Key in the Lock Beth Underdown has beautifully crafted a slow burning novel that touches on lots of important themes, and addresses them sensitively. There are some surprises along the way and the writing is easy to follow, creating a readable and enjoyable piece of historical fiction that I really enjoyed.
Many thanks to Viking Books for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest review.