Moody, teenage clever clogs Erin meets her match in the magical but malignant Devilskein. At first I thought they deserved each other. Our author’s upfront revelations of Devilskein’s fantastical powers and horrific motivation and the more gradual revelations as to why Erin lies about her past change this.
Amid the caustic wit and at times frantic action, Erin grows to understand the upsides and downsides of having a vivid imagination and about friendships both real and contrived via the vivid worlds opened by the right keys. The only thing that grated was the heavy-handed use of brackets (although I do exactly the same myself).
All praise to Arachne Press and the Carnegie Award judges for unearthing this South African diamond. Alex Smith’s novel pays homage to other classic and contemporary writers whilst being unique in its own right.