Review| Smoke & Key – Kelsey Sutton

Smoke & Key by Kelsey Sutton was released on Tuesday. This book sounded like something different than the books I normally read, but very interesting. A big thanks to Entangled Teen for providing me with an ARC to read and review. Today I’m going to talk about what I thought of this book!

A sound awakens her. There’s darkness all around. And then she’s falling…

She has no idea who or where she is. Or why she’s dead. The only clue to her identity hangs around her neck: a single rusted key. This is how she and the others receive their names—from whatever belongings they had when they fell out of their graves. Under is a place of dirt and secrets, and Key is determined to discover the truth of her past in order to escape it.

She needs help, but who can she trust? Ribbon seems content in Under, uninterested in finding answers. Doll’s silence hints at deep sorrow, which could be why she doesn’t utter a word. There’s Smoke, the boy with a fierceness that rivals even the living. And Journal, who stays apart from everyone else. Key’s instincts tell her there is something remarkable about each of them, even if she can’t remember why.

Then the murders start. Bodies that are burned to a crisp. And after being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she was—and what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden—before she loses her life for good…


I can honestly say that I’ve never read anything like Smoke & Key! The concept of this book was so interesting. Our main character wakes up in a place she doesn’t know and doesn’t remember who she is. I can’t imagine how creepy that is. Everyone in Under is dead and has no memories of who they were before arriving to this place.

No one remember their name in Under, so they’re name comes from the item they arrived with. So we have Key, Journal, Pocket Watch, Spoon, Ribbon, etc. I have to say it was a bit confusing at first reading about characters with these odd names. I thought it was a good solution though! Smoke & Key is very mysterious. At first you really have no clue where Key has ended up and the other characters are introduced slowly!

That’s when things get interesting though, because people start ending up dead. Yes, they’re already dead, but they will be permanently dead if burned. I loved the aspect of mystery in the story. I had no clue who to trust and in all honesty, the light bulb in my mind didn’t go off until right before the murderer was revealed. I love it when the author is able to keep me guessing until close to the end.

Smoke & Key is told in the present and we also are taken back to Key’s memories. We slowly start learning about her life and events that took place before her death. I love that we also slowly get to see the other characters in her memories and start learning their names. The big question in this story is, how is she remembering everything?

At times the memories did confuse me a bit while reading. Sometimes it’s mentioned that Key starts to slip into a memory and at other times it just happens without any notice. While I think they played a big part in this story, it wasn’t always clear what was going on.

This was definitely a fast and fun read, but there were a couple of things that prevented me from giving a higher rating. Key had/has magic and it’s mentioned a few times during the book, but I missed a bit more information regarding how that worked and everything like that. Also, at times I think the romance aspect took over a bit too much of the story. And last but not least, the ending was rather abrupt. In my opinion it felt kind of rushed.

That being said, like I said before, I really did enjoy this book. This is the first time I’ve read a book where the characters are dead from the start. I loved finding unique stories like this and I hope this author gives us more unique stories in the future!

I definitely liked that Smoke & Key was a darker book than I normally read in YA! Have you read any books like this? Let me know in the comments.

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