Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton | Mysterious and creepy with romance

Posted April 14, 2019 by Sophia

Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton | Mysterious and creepy with romance

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Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton | Mysterious and creepy with romanceSmoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton
Published by Entangled: Teen on April 2, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: Publisher

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…

A copy of the book was provided for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore does not affect the opinion or content of the review.

Kelsey Sutton sucked me right into Smoke and Key.

I thought Smoke and Key would be a fascinating murder mystery set underground with the dead. But as I got in the story, I discovered I was so so wrong. From early in the novel, Sutton sucks me into the world of Under. Key wakes up dead with no memories other than a key around her neck. Others who live in Under are the same as well, and like Key each of them has an item they came with they identify themselves with.

Mysterious and creepy.

Smoke and Key is everything I thought a world of dead people would be – mysterious and creepy. When Key awakens in Under, she has a feeling everyone around her is in the world for a reason – she just can’t remember why. As she sets out to discover who she is, some of the residents are murdered brutally with no return. Key hopes that as she discovers the reason why everyone is there, she’ll solve the cause as well before she is murdered.

Sutton creates an atmospheric world while building a mystery that kept me turning the pages. There were moments where I thought I would know how the story will play out in the end, but I would turn out to be entirely wrong. Sutton continues to do this until near the end when everything circles together.

A little romance underneath.

Sutton includes a good amount of romance in her latest novel developing throughout that I enjoyed. Despite the romance being a trope I normally have a dislike for, Sutton turns the tables and handles it nicely. There is also a good balance between the romance and everything else in the story, so it doesn’t overshadow the plot despite ultimately being a love story.

Superb character development.

I adored all of the characters who made up the world of Under. Each of them has individual contributions to the society that is developed. What’s neat about Smoke and Key is the story is in two timelines that come together in the end. One timeline is in the present in Under while the other as Key discovers her past that led them all to this world. Having the two timelines allows readers to see how the relationships have developed.

Smoke and Key is a beautifully written novel with magic and romance built with mysterious and creepy vibes.

smoke and key kelsey sutton

About Kelsey Sutton

kelsey suttonKelsey Sutton is a young adult and middle-grade author. She lives in Minnesota, where she received a dual bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Bemidji State University. She will soon have a master’s degree from Hamline University. Her work has received an Independent Publisher Book Award, an IndieFab Award, and was selected as a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013.

When not writing, Kelsey can be found watching too much Netflix, ordering a mocha at the nearest coffee shop, napping with her rescue dogs, or browsing a bookstore. You can visit her online at, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

Website| Goodreads| Twitter | Facebook

Sophia started blogging in February 2012 for the hell of it and is surprisingly still around. She has a GIF for nearly everything, probably listens to too much K-Pop and is generally in an existential crisis of sorts (she's trying her best). In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Communications and minor in Women's Studies. More of her bookish reviews and K-pop Roundups can be found at The Arts STL.

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5 responses to “Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton | Mysterious and creepy with romance

  1. Um excuse me but this sounds incredible?? I love atmospheric writing and the world of Under intrigues me. I love mysterious and creepy, and we all know how much I live for character development! Adding this to my TBR, great review!

  2. Ooooh, a book about dead people? Sign me up! I have no idea how this book slipped my attention, but it did *hides* Love your review and I love the fact that the romantic element was done in a way you enjoyed. Yay for alternate timelines, I love stories like that. And with that, my TBR gets bigger. Thank you Soph and as always, great review 😀