Title: The Secret of Isobel Key
Author: Jen McConnel
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Pages: Ebook; 220
Release Date: December 2013
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Content Screening: Nothing of note
HDB Rating: 3 Key to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy shorter stories that span continents and time periods.
Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / BookLikes
Lou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Fresh out of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they embark on a hunt for information about Isobel Key, a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.
They set out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but Lou isn’t prepared for the knowledge that awaits her. She must face her own demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past.
Flashing between seventeenth century Scotland and a contemporary romance, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY is a mystery that will please readers of all ages.
Louisa Ann is our present day main character. Recently graduated from a University in Boston, she's at a turning point in her life. She's unemployed and frustrated. When she's offered the opportunity to travel to Scotland, she jumps right in. Who wouldn't? This is where things get interesting. Louisa finds out that she's somehow linked to Isobel Key. That there are secrets that she doesn't know about her past. Told in alternating points of view, we see the story from both time periods as the mystery unravels.
Here's the big problem I had. I thought that the chapters from Isobel's point of view were fascinating. They take the reader back to the 1700's, during the witch trials, which is a period I'm particularly interested in. I was enthralled by Isobel's story line as she had to fight the persecution surrounding her. I honestly would have been thrilled to read a whole novel about this topic. The history in these chapters was beautifully woven into fiction that kept me reading.
Louisa's chapters though? They felt boring to me. She did touristy things, pined over hot tour guides, and all the while had to put up with Tammy. In fact, I think it was Louisa and Tammy's friendship that didn't feel real to me. I constantly felt like Tammy was only put there to keep Louisa from feeling totally confident about herself. Even when she was on the right track, she second guessed herself. It got on my nerves. In my opinion, this book would have been more effective if Louisa was just by herself on this adventure.
Things did pick up towards the middle. As Louisa discovered more about the past, I found myself more invested in the story. Still, I never really felt like I was fully in love with Louisa's story line. It got to the point where I'd skim her chapters to get back to reading about Isobel. So points go to The Secret of Isobel Key for being about a topic I'm invested in. Points also go to this book for being well researched. Other than that, I still feel rather lackluster towards it. So, three star rating it is.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.