Wow! The Time Key by Melanie Batemen was absolutely brilliant! I have read many books for blog tours, and have given several 5 star reviews, but most of those books did not have the same caliber of story line, character development, and perfect mixture of period, mystery, science-fiction, and fantasy. I can only imagine how much time it took this first-time author to perfect her story, filling in all the holes she wished to fill, and keeping the reader completely mesmerized the entire 312 pages. The beautiful illustrations at the end of each chapter definitely were something to look forward to - how wonderful that the author could bring her own scenes to life through word and picture.
The novel has a mysterious narrator, whose identity we do not know until the very end. This narrator follows Stanley Becker, a 36-year-old Englishman from the year 1897. He is a man so depressed, that he has drunk his life away for the past six years due to tragedy that befell his family. In the first scene of the book, he is about to take his own life, but instead witnesses, and intervenes on, an eerie disturbance in the street that will change his life forever.
Characters range from close acquaintances to Stanley, to gypsies, to a vaelie (read the book to find out what that is), to other-worldly demons, and even a goddess. The novel is full of danger, surprises, confusion, and consequences, but perhaps most importantly, love and change of perspective.
Even though there are many thrilling, dangerous, and scary moments in the book, The Time Key also includes poignant moments of longing, self-reflection, sacrifice, and bravery. It will appeal to a wide range of readers, and will keep you guessing.
The concept of the time key itself is a little confusing to the reader because of its intricacy, as well as how traveling through time can (or cannot) affect the past, present and future. However, those moments of confusion made complete sense to me. How else could we connect to our protagonist, if not by feeling the same feelings he felt? He took many leaps of faith by time traveling, understanding little of the consequences. I truly felt I was taking Stanley's journeys, physical and emotional, with him.
I literally read this book in all my free time, and finished in three days. It was so good, I just had to keep picking it up. I think the Epilogue may have been my favorite part. The last chapter I was content with, but, well, you will see what I mean. Read this book and tell all your friends about it!