Lou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Fresh out of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they embark on a hunt for information about Isobel Key, a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.
They set out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but Lou isn’t prepared for the knowledge that awaits her. She must face her own demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past.
Flashing between seventeenth century Scotland and a contemporary romance, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY is a mystery that will please readers of all ages.
Description taken from Goodreads.
I’m not a fan of witch stories, but I had to try this book because it’s by Jen McConnel, and I love the fontwork on the front cover.
THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY was good and bad in many ways. It did surprise me as a witchy read, but it also didn’t. I felt like Lou was really plain next to Isobel, and she fell in love with Brian way too easily. I’m not at all a fan of instalove, so I couldn’t go for the romance. In those terms, I really didn’t love Lou. It wasn’t really anything about her, I actually did like her friendship with Tammy (even though the two didn’t seem to get along more often that they actually did) and I thought she was a good character, but I felt like I didn’t see enough of her. It was that, and she paled in comparison to the vibrancy of the characters in the historical part of McConnel’s story.
I had hoped to see more from Lou. Even though she was a letdown of a character, she still kept the plot steady and I enjoyed her role in what happened. The two stories tie together really well and I liked that a lot.
Then there was the historical aspect of THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY. In my mind, this was a lot more fun to read about. The book is very well-researched and I felt like the settings were real. I felt bad for Isobel, and she was a real character to me. In a way, this is the story of a villain–but it’s also really not. I loved watching her grow up and seeing her change as time went on, as well as never succumbing or giving up. She was a great character and I always wanted her to break through in the end.
All in all, great world building and historical writing. If Jen ever decides to write historical fiction, it will be one heck of a ride. I think that my disappointment in Lou was more than made up with the way that the two stories worked in tandem, and I’m really interested to see how things will change in HER SECRET INHERITANCE (the second book in this series). Overall, I would recommend it to historical/paranormal fans. For those of you wondering about the New Adult label on this book, don’t worry if you’re not usually a fan of NA. I really am not either, and this reads just like a YA book despite the fact that Lou can’t really be classified as a teen. 3 stars.