Keys (City of Keys #1)

Author: Amber Kell

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy Links: DSP and Amazon

Type: Novel in a Series

Received from Publisher


Blurb: City of Keys: Book One

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 twelve, 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.


Review:  This was fantastic! Keys is a totally unique and intriguing dystopian steam punk book with fascinating characters. Witty dialogue. Lovable misfit characters. Magic. There’s just so much to love about this book. I’m feeling some raving coming on because this book was so damn good. And there’s so much more to come!

Book one of this new series features the lovable but ruthless once street rat turned Key Keeper, Oss. He’s worked his way into a respectable full time paying position. Oss came from the 4th district where all the poorest folks live. People don’t always have homes or food to eat. Desperation often leads them to criminal actions. And those more powerful come there to prey upon it’s inhabitants because nobody cares about them. Oss may not look it but he’s fierce and smart. Growing up on the streets forces a kid to grow up fast. Oss is grown up now. He keeps his nose out of trouble these days. He’s sleeping with a super sexy guard named Thorne who wants them to be more than lovers.Thorne is rich and his brother Duke Lear. One of the Four Lock Lords. Meaning one of the four most powerful men in the City of Keys. Oss comes from the streets and has done some really bad things. None of which he regrets because he’s a survivor and some people deserve to die. But he’s not the kind of guy Thorne will settle down with. Or so he thinks. Thorne is pretty sure he wants Oss forever.

Things get kind of weird and Oss learns there’s a prophecy to release all the magic locked away below the city. And of course he’s right in the middle of it. Oss has a secret that only one other person knows. He can open any lock just by asking it to. In a city of keys and locks that’s a pretty powerful tool to have at your disposal. It’s also a reason to keep it a secret. The city of Keys is a town where the rich are powerful and the rest are at their mercy. Oss has no desire to be someone’s tool to use.

So I totally loved this book. Reading this book from the POV of Oss was a pure delight. He’s funny and loyal to those few friends he has. Smart and calculating. I love how bloodthirsty and unapologetic for it he is. In his mind, some people just deserve to die and he has no problem doing it if needed. He says he only looks out for himself, but as the book goes on, you see he’s got a few people he looks after. So he’s not the hardened loner he likes to think of himself as.

Thorne is big and strong and totally adores Oss. There’s a line in the book saying only Thorne can get away with saying these sweet and sappy things to Oss and it’s so true. I loved Oss and Thorne together. So sweet and sexy even when everything in their lives is a mess, they find love with each other. Their playful dialogue is pretty damn good too.

The world building was awesome. I’ve never read anything quite like this. The city and the men who run it were pretty fascinating to read about. So much corruption and greed you were definitely rooting for the underdog. And don’t know who you can trust so everyone is a possible threat. The imagery is vivid without bogging you down with details. You see everything as Oss does his thing so there’s never a dull moment. The book moves at a fast pace and I didn’t ever want to put it down.

Obviously I highly recommend this one. The characters are intriguing and complex. The story completely engaging. I can’t wait to see what comes next. Surely Duke Lear and Maybre get a chance at love? How will magic effect the city? What will become of Alfie? How will Oss handle his new status in the city? Just a few things I’m dying to know! Great book.

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