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The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly


The Skeleton Key by Author Erin Kelly
UK Publication: September 2022
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★★]

This ARC was provided by Hodder & Stoughton (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Creepily Dark


Summer, 2021. Nell has come home at her family’s insistence to celebrate an anniversary. Fifty years ago, her father wrote The Golden Bones. Part picture book, part treasure hunt, Sir Frank Churcher created a fairy story about Elinore, a murdered woman whose skeleton was scattered all over England. Clues and puzzles in the pages of The Golden Bones led readers to seven sites where jewels were buried – gold and precious stones, each a different part of a skeleton. One by one, the tiny golden bones were dug up until only Elinore’s pelvis remained hidden.

The book was a sensation. A community of treasure hunters called the Bonehunters formed, in frenzied competition, obsessed to a dangerous degree. People sold their homes to travel to England and search for Elinore. Marriages broke down as the quest consumed people. A man died. The book made Frank a rich man. Stalked by fans who could not tell fantasy from reality, his daughter, Nell, became a recluse.

But now the Churchers must be reunited. The book is being reissued along with a new treasure hunt and a documentary crew are charting everything that follows. Nell is appalled, and terrified. During the filming, Frank finally reveals the whereabouts of the missing golden bone. And then all hell breaks loose.

From the bestselling author of He Said/She Said and Watch Her Fall, this is a taut, mesmerising novel about a daughter haunted by her father’s legacy…

My Thoughts: Let’s take a moment to look at that beautiful cover is it not a work of art? When you plunge into the story you realise that art is as much a part of this book as the treasure hunt our two aging male protagonists are artists who have been involved with “friendly” rivalry since forever and their works of art are an integral part of the story from the illustrations in The Golden Bones to the controversial art gallery show “Intimacies” these art works are beautifully described and I am gutted this was not an illustrated book, I am also gutted that The Golden Bones as described in gorgeous detail is not out there for me to add to my keeper shelf. You may have already guessed but this is a very visually described book and I love that.

Onto the story – on the surface this is a book about a treasure hunt that leads to readers becoming obsessed with the family who created the book. Underneath this is so much more it is an exploration of family, friendship, rivalry, artistry, adultery, obsession, responsibility and the modern world. One of the things I enjoyed most was the use of the internet and the question of how easy is it to go off grid and how anonymous you truly are online.

This is how fairy tales should be done, dark, bloody and with endings that are not happy for everyone.

Who would like this? If you are a fan of traditional (not Disnified) fairy tales I think you will appreciate this one. Anyone who enjoys fiction about messed up families give this a go and anyone who loves artistic descriptions definitely check this out.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Remedial Stitcher #

    I’m intrigued!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 11, 2022

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