- Date published: 1st December 2012
- Publisher: Pan Macmillan AU
- Format: Paperback, 286 pages
- Series: Pandora English, Book 3
- ISBN 13: 9781742611631
- Categories: Fantasy
- Goodreads / Booktopia / Bookworld
- Source: provided for review by publisher
- Challenge: Australian Women Writer’s Reading Challenge 2013
With the full moon set to rise once again, Pandora has a very special date looming. Her beautiful spirit guide, Civil War soldier Lieutenant Luke, will be a flesh-and-blood man, if only for the night, and she hasn’t been able to stop thinking about it. But a chance encounter with playboy Jay Rockwell sees that very human attraction start all over again – even though Jay doesn’t remember their previous relationship, or the fact that Pandora saved him from a gang of ill-tempered undead supermodels.
Meanwhile, Pandora – with her special skeleton key – is slowly unlocking the mysteries of the haunted mansion where she lives with her great-aunt Celia. What sinister experiments did the architect Dr Edmund Barrett conduct there before he died? Where is his laboratory? And what are the strange noises emanating from the basement?
On the centenary of the mysterious fire that supposedly killed Dr Barrett, he returns to the mansion. He has a message for Pandora. But he has brought with him a dark force that threatens to tear apart the delicate balance between the worlds of the dead and living…
The third Pandora English novel is just as quirky and fun as the previous books, filled with humour, action and ZOMBIES! The Skeleton Key follows Pandora as she uses the special key to unlock the secrets of her great aunt’s house and the creepy suburb of Spektor. And my, what she finds is definitely creepy!
One of my favourite things about the series is Pandora, because she’s so familiar and relatable, without the ‘endearing’ traits of having low self-esteem or bad coordination. She has to make a conscious effort to be brave, to face her fears, she’s not afraid of new social settings but is understandably nervous, and she worries about things before going to bed each night. But Pandora isn’t whiny, doesn’t expect special treatment and is very much in control of her life. All admirable qualities in a main character! I also love that The Skeleton Key allowed us a glimpse into Pandora’s great-aunt Celia, and we get to see her witchy powers in action.
An increasing source of discomfort for me, as the series goes on, is Pandora’s attitude regarding the two men in her life: the ghostly Lieutenant Luke and the handsome Jay Rockwell, who is blessedly normal. I understand the conflict they cause for Pandora, who craves both the normalcy that Jay provides and the supernatural help that Luke gives her. But I don’t like that she is constantly skipping between the two like a pendulum. She rationalizes going out on a date with one right after the other, and when she’s in their company she completely forgets about the other until she gets home, and then she has a long think about the situation she’s gotten herself into. I think a lot of confusion would be avoided if she stopped seeing both until she cleared her thoughts, but I guess that’s not entertaining to read about.
I really like the supernatural world that has slowly developed over these three books, but there are many more questions to be answered so I’m glad that it looks like there are a few more books to come. As usual, the necromancy/zombie lore used in this book is well researched and doesn’t feel like it has been contrived to fit the story, which is great, and I beginning to really enjoy the unique spin that Moss puts on her supernatural creatures. I also liked the place that the house has in this book – it has been almost like another character in the books, and now with some of its mysteries revealed, the feeling has been compounded.
The Skeleton Key is not to be missed by fans of the Pandora English series, and readers who enjoy paranormal romance with more emphasis on the ‘paranormal’ than ‘romance’ should give the series a try. I am looking forward to following Pandora’s further adventures as the series progresses.