Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

The Black Key by Amy Ewing | a safe but solid conclusion to the Lone City trilogy

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Synopsis: For too long, Violet and the people of the outer circles of the Lone City have lived in service to the royalty of the Jewel. But now the secret society known as the Black Key is preparing to seize power. And while Violet knows she is at the center of this rebellion, she has a more personal stake in it—her sister, Hazel, has been taken by the Duchess of the Lake. Now, after fighting so hard to escape the Jewel, Violet must do everything in her power to return to save not only Hazel, but the future of the Lone City.

Since I reviewed the previous books in The Lone City trilogy, I’m sort of obligated to review the conclusion, The Black Key. The Lone City series aren’t the type of books from which I would expect a knock-out, twisted, action-packed conclusion from, which is why The Black Key is simply average to me in terms of an ending. But, Ewing tried many new things in this one, making it arguably the best book of the series.

The Black Key picks up where it left off, with the announcement that Hazel, Violet’s sister, in the hands of the cruel Duchess. After meetings with the Black Key society, formulating of plans by the White Rose residents, and spreading the knowledge of the royalty’s cruelty to the current surrogates, Violet decides to pick up the pace on her sister’s condition by traveling to Duchess’s mansion herself in a disguise. As she gets entangled in secrets and promises, Violet searches for her sister and vows to keep her safe whilst making plans with the Black Key, who are becoming less and less subtle with their demands. The Duchess, Lucien, and even Carnelian come out with secrets of their own as death and lies engulf the Jewel. Violet must harness the power she has, along with the surrogates, to finally end the battle.

A staggering but addictive story: Much like the rest of series, the plotting of this book is slow and more drama-oriented, than action-oriented. Many of the events that took place in the book were fairly entertaining, revealing, and the most shocking. With such a concept paired with an inevitable ending, one would expect the utmost emotion out of this book, and it did fall flat to an extent. There were a few moments that touched me, mostly toward the end, but due to the very simplistic writing style, many of the elements in this series tend to be blase, which is shame considering the emotional potential this concept could have. It was a very fast read though, and held my attention easily.

A predictable and unpredictable Violet Lasting: Violet is a very typical YA heroine. Many readers name her a Mary-Sue, but more than anything, it was the quietness and blandness of her personality that bothered me the most. She is still, unfortunately, boring as hell, but I loved her leadership role in collecting the surrogates and fighting until the end. Violet did some risky shit in this book, and she had to get her hands dirty while doing it. Heroines going through significant pain for something they believe in is what makes them real, and I hate how the writing just regresses Violet’s character. She had such a large role in this book, by showing off her Paladin heritage and strength, especially as a female, in such a sexist and demeaning world. She could have been a special character if only the writing gave her character, and all the secondary characters in fact, a large push by actually having some life in it. Either way, Violet was cool in this novel and left me with an okay feeling at the end.

The side characters I (finally) learned more about: The twists and turns concerning the Duchess and her past were unsurprising but interesting, as I’ve always been fascinated by the Duchess. I do think her character was wasted on the superficiality of her drive, but it was entertaining nonetheless. Ash actually did some shit in this book, and I am supremely glad for that because he was essentially useless throughout this series. Lucien and Garnet, I grew to love in this one. I’ve always adored Garnet, and I liked how his emotional side was brought out in this book. Lucien was always a bit boring to me, but his character took major leaps in this one, and I began to somewhat feel for him. Even the petty Carnelian and lowkey childish Coral had me in my feelings, and I wish this book wasn’t so damn short and concise. All of these side characters have the tendency to disappear right off the map after the proof that they aren’t as one-dimensional as they used to be. Their full potentials as characters aren’t explored in the least, but I should have expected it.

The Black Key is a safe but solid conclusion to The Lone City trilogy, and it sucks that I couldn’t love it more. While this series as a total was typical, trope-y, and cliche in a lot of moments, it was addictive, easy to read, and shocking in many ways through its unique concept. It’s not something I will miss, but I enjoyed it well enough.

-Haven

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