My name is Octavius Septimus Stalk, but my friends call me Oss. I live in the City of Keys, a town of gears, keys, locks, and wonder. Our forefathers banished magic long ago, bolted the doors and locked everything up tight to keep people out and the town's secrets in. Four Lock Lords control what information is left, and everyone else is left struggling to survive.
Despite what Thorne, my naïve lover, thinks, I was an orphan, but not a victim. When I walked the streets at the age of 12, I learned fast where to steal the best food, how to use my daggers, and where to hide my would-be attackers' bodies. No one suspected me of such violence. No one knew then or now that I have magic inside me.
Now, power-hungry men intend to release the magic for their own benefit - at the expense of the rest of the city. We will stop them, even if Thorne must battle his own kin, even if I must reveal my hidden talents and the role I seem destined to play.
©2015 Amber Kell (P)2015 Dreamspinner Press
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"This is Fantasy done right, my friends!"
Now, this, ladies and gentlemen is how you do Fantasy right.
This story is absolutely amazing!
The world building is startlingly impressive. The characters are smart, funny, ruthless, vulnerable, and real. The storytelling is rich and thoroughly entertaining. The narration was hands-down terrific and pitch perfect.
Octavius Septimus Stalk (my friends call me “Oss”) is one of the best characters I’ve read in a long time. From the first few minutes I was hooked. It opens with a bang, I was immediately and absolutely immersed in the narration, and I loved every minute.
I can hardly wait for the next installment!
"If you love steampunk..."
Oss is in charge of some of the keys that help keep the magic of the City of Keys locked down safe. He might actually be more than that….
His boyfriend is Thorne, a sweetheart, who will do anything for Oss.
When the magic that Oss holds within rises to the fore, the entire city faces major changes and nobody knows what will happen when the Master Lock is opened.
I have to say – I’m not a steampunk fan – BUT I’m a total Keys fan!
This is less romance and more adventure than I usually like – thus the 4 star rating rather than 5 – but the world building is phenomenal, the characters are three-dimensional and fascinating (I love Oss’ anti-hero role and his adherence to his own unique moral code) and the adventure is fun and moves us along at a fast pace.
Thorne and Oss are well matched (good foils for the other) and sweet.
If you’re looking for a book focused on romance – this isn’t it – but a romantic tale with a fair amount of feels and a fantastically unique world – this is your book!
Derrick McClain is a great narrator – especially for this story. His style is crisp and clean and well suited to the world in Keys. He makes it clear who is speaking and really infuses emotion into the story. What I like most is how easy he is to listen to for hours and how much he brings a story alive.
For both the narration and the audio 4.5 of 5 stars
"An exciting blend of fantasy and romance!"
Unique, sexy and fun
The story is told from Octavius’ point of view, and I found him to be a very likable character. His love interest, Thorne, is a sexy sidekick. They are an established couple as the story begins, so this allowed the plot to focus on other issues. I think that worked well because there is a lot to understand about the City of Keys and it’s happenings. Oss and Thorne are a great match, but since it is a first person narrative there were times I wondered what was going on in Thorne’s head.
Derrick McClain does a wonderful job of narrating the story. He is Oss, and his voice adds humor and passion in the right places. He acts out all of the characters in a unique way, and I found myself being able to keep track of who was saying what during the dialogues. There are a lot of characters in the story, so this aspect of the narration was important and well done.
Amber Kell created an unusual world in the City of Keys. I love fantasy and all the sub-genres that can go along with fantasy stories. Her creation is a steam punk world and it also has magic. So, it really is a blend of a few of my favorite kinds of fantasy realms. I think that one of the issues that goes along with reading (or listening to) fantasies is that the reader has to understand the world and the unique aspects of the author’s creations in order to feel comfortable and absorb the story without feeling confused. Sometimes I have to read parts of a fantasy book a few times to really get it. Thankfully this wasn’t the case with Keys. It did take me a few chapters to get into the flow of the story, and be able to visualize the world the author constructed. That was probably because it is a unique world with an interesting history, and allowing it all to digest in my brain took some time.
"Charles Dickens Meets meets Harry Potter's Magic"
In the books of Charles Dickens there are several stories of street urchins living under oppression, poverty, and cruelty. Living in destitution, hunger and danger such as in Oliver Twist led to hopelessness. In Keys: City of Keys, Book 1 [Audible Edition] our hero Oss is living in the horrors of a Dickensian world but he is smart, patient, skilled in weaponry and lives within a network of fellow street smart young adults and children who share the movements and secrets of the bad guys.
Like some of the wizards and witches in the Harry Potter series Oss has some magical powers chiefly control over locks and the ability to heal faster than normal folks. Oss is not a candidate for sainthood. He feels no remorse about murdering in order to stay safe even if knifing and killing someone is a much greatly penalty than deserved in what he perceives as the offense. He hates the gentry who live their lives in comfort and never help the poor. It is odd then that Oss's romantic partner is a member of that aristocracy.
Some readers will find Oss without morals, others will find him justified and more than a few will just see him as the hero of the story and not consider his morality. This is especially so as his enemies wound or kill good guys and embroil Oss in their evil plans. Oss is not evil. He is kind to his fellow rapscallions, friends, and his aristocratic lover as well as lover's brother, a Lord.
Hero or ruffian as the action progresses anything goes because the fate of the City (Oss's world) and it's inhabitants is at stake. In fact as the plot develops Oss finds he is top member of a new kind of noblemen who will have one of the greatest parts in future of a new world for his City.
I'm looking forward to next audiobook in the series however since the second book hasn't even been written yet it may be years before there is an Audible edition.
The talking locks
I like the light relationships the characters had,
Good narration , great story
This is the first part of a three part story. I really enjoyed this fantasy story with a steampunk twist. I had really great, 3 dimensional characters, a sweet romance, a mystery and some action and intrigue. Pretty high body count as well, if you care about that sort of thing. The story is told from Octavius’ POV. He is a former “street rat” who is trying to turn over a new leaf through his new job as a “key keeper” in the city of Keys. What no one knows (not even Oss) is he and his friends are much more than that. And that realization and future implications for other books is the heart of the story. Although, the romance between Octavius and Thorne is really sweet and satisfying, it is really not the point of the book. It is kind of like icing on a great story cake. This is my first book by Amber Kell and I really look forward to the next two. Although we get a satisfying ending, the story is not complete.
Derrick McClain does an excellent job narrating this story. His characterizations and multiple voices were great. I did wish he had pushed through a little more emotion with some of the scenes, such as when Oss believed that Thorne betrayed him. It sounded a bit flat. But overall, I really enjoyed it.
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